A deal on a revised renewable energy target could be struck within days, with the federal government and opposition to meet by the end of the week.
Momentum to break a political impasse over the previously bipartisan target is building as peak business groups join in the push for a compromise and Labor prepares to give a little more ground.
Months of uncertainty over the target, which requires 20 per cent of Australia’s energy to come from renewables by 2020, has stalled investment in clean energy and cost jobs.
The coalition wants to slash the 41,000-gigawatt hour target, amid concerns it would overreach the 20 per cent goal and push up power prices.
It has landed at a 32,000GWh target, while Labor is backing the clean energy industry’s compromise of 33,500.
Last week, government MPs Dan Tehan and Sarah Henderson broke ranks and called on cabinet to approve a 33,000GWh target because of fears of job losses in their regional Victorian seats.
That figure is supported by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other peak business groups, which believe it’s a compromise that would provide stable investment in both renewables and traditional energy.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten indicated Labor was willing to move to 33,000GWh if that delivered a bipartisan target – considered essential by the clean energy industry.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt wrote to Labor’s Opposition spokesman Mark Butler last week to request a meeting and the two parties will meet by the end of this week.
The Clean Energy Council, the sector’s peak body, is standing by its compromise of 33,500GWh but welcomes any shift in the government’s position and will consider proposals on merit.