Monday May 29, 2023

Bowen to move quickly on climate change


The federal government will tackle climate change head on during the first week of the new parliament.

The proposed bill will be “simple yet powerful”, Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

It will legislate the government’s 43 per cent emissions reduction target and will also require the climate change minister to report annually to parliament on Australia’s progress.

Upgrades to Australia’s electricity grid and a national electric vehicle policy are also high on the agenda, he said.

Mr Bowen remains open to working with independents who took a bigger emissions reduction target to the election.

“If there is a good idea which improves, not undermines, the bill, I’m happy to hear it and work with it,” he said.

Within weeks of being sworn in as minister, Mr Bowen faced a perfect storm of coal-fired power station shutdowns, a cold snap and spiking gas prices.

The federal energy regulator suspended the energy market for a week, amid complaints the market-based system was broken.

International pressures like the war in Ukraine sent shockwaves through global energy markets, but Labor pointed the finger at the former coalition government for Australia’s energy shortfall.

The new government says a decade of underinvestment in renewables led to the recent failures in the grid.

But while the short-term crisis has eased, the energy minister faces a challenge to sell the Labor government’s long-term energy plan while keeping electricity on and prices down.

The contentious capacity mechanism proposal, spruiked as a safety net during Australia’s transition to renewables, will not impact the emissions reduction target, Mr Bowen said.

Under the mechanism, to be introduced from 2025, the government would pay electricity providers to have standby power available to meet demand.

The body set up to design the mechanism says all current power generators, including coal and gas, should be included.

The proposal has been criticised by industry groups for not addressing the existing issues in the energy market and potentially delaying the transition to a system with lower emissions

– AAP.


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