Federal Labor has come under attack for stitching up a deal with the Coalition government to reduce the Renewable Energy Target from 41000 to 33.000 gigawatt hours per annum by 2020.
The Greens say the deal will mean fewer jobs and less clean energy on the north coast, which continues to set the standard in the uptake of renewable energy.
And the North Coast Environment Council Inc and North East Forest Alliance have jointly condemned the failure to exclude native forests from being fed into power stations.
Greens spokesperson, Dawn Walker accused Labor of ‘caving in’ to both Tony Abbott and the fossil fuel industry.
This deal means more coal, more pollution and less investment in clean energy.
‘The north coast region continues to set the standard in renewable energy with some of the highest up-take rates for solar power in NSW and several large scale solar projects in the pipeline, like the 99kW Lismore Community Solar Farm to be constructed at Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre and East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant,’ Ms Walker said.
‘Many north coast suburbs have more than a quarter of households with rooftop solar.
‘The Greens want to increase the Renewable Energy Target to power Australia with at least 90 per cent renewable energy by 2030. This will give investors the certainty and stability they need to plan.
‘This cut will harm the future of large scale solar in Australia. Labor has helped Tony Abbott protect the big polluters with a deal for a slower transition to cleaner, cheaper power.’
The Australian Solar Council also criticised the decision to cut the RET, with Chief executive John Grimes saying that ‘A deal at 33,000 gigawatt hours won’t deliver any outcomes for big solar in Australia’.
Meanwhile, North Coast Environment Council Inc spokesperson Susie Russell said the deal was a major blow for both the genuine renewable energy industry and the future health of our region’s forests.
‘We know from nearly 50 years experience of woodchipping, that the logging industry views everything except A Grade sawlogs as ‘waste’. So the likelihood of intensive damaging logging has just got worse,’ Ms Russell said.
‘The renewable industry didn’t want this. They know that not only will it damage their brand, but that it steals from the limited funds available to kickstart renewable energy projects, as well as cheating and effectively lowering the Renewable Energy Target: as energy created from this dirty, high emission and unsustainable source will be counted in our fight to decrease greenhouse gas pollution.’
North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh said he was concerned that burning trees that have been storing carbon for decades, would result in high CO2 emissions as well as damage to biodiversity, soils and water catchments. ‘Burning trees is not carbon neutral,’ he said.
‘The best thing we can do to ameliorate climate change is to leave our recovering forests alone so that they can take-up and store ever increasing volumes of carbon as they mature.
‘ This would make a real difference to climate change.
‘Feeding trees into furnaces for power is just as polluting and environmentally damaging as coal.
‘This needs to be clearly ruled out as a substitute for genuinely renewable power such as solar and wind.’