The once unlikely prospect of a bipartisan national energy policy is on the agenda as the Federal and State Governments wait to receive full details of the energy blueprint report from chief scientist Alan Finkel.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offering a “truce” in the ideology wars on energy, which could be put to bed by the Finkel report.
Only disruptive former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose support for coal in the belief that it will deliver lower power prices, is a dissenting voice, while the Prime Minister’s office is believed to be canvassing views on climate change among Government backbenchers.
A key point of the report is the adoption of a Clean Energy Target (CET), a “technology agnostic” policy designed to cut pollution and encourage more investment in the energy sector.
Dr Finkel reportedly argues that not implementing such a scheme would be more expensive to the economy than the current status quo of doing nothing.
A swathe of business and community groups, including the Business Council, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Aluminium Council, the Australian Council of Social Service, the ACTU, the Clean Energy Council and the National Farmers Federation have written to the Government urging action, saying that the current statis is damaging the economy.
In an open letter to the Government, they said: “Without reform we will endure higher prices, reduced security, lost investment opportunity, and high emissions.”
The CET would require electricity retailers to buy a set amount of power from low emission power generators.
Dr Finkel reported suggested that Australia move to a Clean Energy Target, which would cut in at about 0.7 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt hour, boosting to both gas suppliers and renewable energy producers.
It could also potentially cover coal-fired power stations which have carbon capture and storage technology.