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20 per cent Renewable Energy Target confirmed

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Policy

Renewable energy

Credit: Dirk Ingo Franke/Wikimedia

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Voted in today, legislation giving Australia a 20 per cent renewable energy target also seems to be giving the country's biggest polluters a free kick.

Under a compromise deal with Malcolm Turnbull's Opposition, the Federal Government has put in place legislation requiring 20 per cent of Australia's electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2020.

"This is to date the most significant piece of climate change legislation in Australian history," said Mathew Warren, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council.

"The Renewable Energy Target legislation will be the foundation of clean energy policy in Australia for the next decade."

The move will create many new clean energy jobs and is to be applauded, said the executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Don Henry.

But it was also disappointing that under the legislation "more compensation has been granted to big polluters, the costs of which will be unfairly borne by households and small business," he said.

Indeed, the deal negotiated by the two major parties will effectively exempt Australia's biggest polluters from the 20 per cent target.

Under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, now holed up in the Senate and waiting approval in November, the most emission-intensive industries would get 90 per cent of their permits free.

Industries the next step down would get 60 per cent of their permits free.

The deal worked out between the Government and Opposition will see these industries not have to meet the target. Under the compromise, only a fraction of their electricity will come from renewable energy.

These industries include aluminium, carbon black production (which makes lubricants), carton board manufacturing, ethanol, flat glass and glass containers, integrated lead and zinc, magnesia, methanol, newsprint manufacturing, pig iron, paper, silicon, soda, titanium oxide and zinc.

Companies that will benefit include Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Alcoa, BlueScope Steel, BP, Nork Hydro, Royal Dutch Shell, OneSteel, Caltex, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, CSR, Woodside, Boral and Mitsubishi. Under this deal, they will only have to get one to seven per cent of their electricity from renewable energy sources.

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