20 per cent Renewable Energy Target confirmed

Renewable energy

Credit: Dirk Ingo Franke/Wikimedia

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Furthermore, there is a provision that could extend the exemptions to other industries, such as food production and pasteurised milk. If the price for renewable energy rises to a certain level, the Government will be able to refer it to the Productivity Commission to review.

Greens deputy leader Christine Milne said the big parties had provided a boost for big polluters.

"Under this deal between the big old parties, the polluters will get windfall gains from cheaper electricity without having to pay to install the renewable energy in the first place,'' Senator Milne said. "How is that fair or reasonable?

"[Both] parties have been using Australia's clever and clean renewable energy industry as a political football. Both...bend over backwards to sandbag the old polluters, but neither is willing to give priority to the renewable energy powerhouse that the Australian community wants."

She warned that the public will pay for the deal. "Every Australian should remember that this deal to exempt polluters from the renewable energy target puts the full bill for moving to the renewably-powered economy into the pockets of the community, letting polluters benefit from the shift while bearing none of the cost,'' she said.

"Will the Government and Opposition vote to give renewable energy credits to Gunns for their native forest furnace at the planned pulp mill?"

Senator Milne moved a raft of amendments to the renewable energy target legislation.

These included a requirement lifting the target to 30 per cent by 2020. As part of this, she sought an amendment that would have the target reviewed every two years. Another amendment sought to remove the exemptions for polluting industries.

Earlier this morning the Government and Opposition voted against the Green amendments.

The passing of the Renewable Energy Target bill now guarantees that the focus returns to the Emissions Trading Scheme. If that bill is defeated in November, it will likely become a trigger for an early, double dissolution election.

"The next major priority for our parliamentarians [then], in the months leading up to the crucial UN climate negotiations at Copenhagen in December," said ACF's Henry, "is to strengthen and pass the emissions trading legislation to show Australia is prepared to walk the talk on climate change action."

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