The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has warned that the Abbot
Government’s decision to reduce the Renewable Energy Target (RET) puts
Australia’s low-carbon future in jeopardy. The Abbott Government recently announced
that the RET, set by the former Labor Government at 41,000 gigawatt hours of
energy to be delivered from renewable sources by 2020, will be reduced to 33,000
gigawatt hours, or 33,000 billion watt hours of electrical energy.
Expressing disappointment with the decision, GBCA’s Chief Executive
Officer, Romilly Madew said that the RET target of 41,000gw hours was bilaterally
agreed upon before the election. However, the ongoing uncertainty around the
RET has damaged Australia’s renewable energy industry both locally and
internationally as well as efforts across the economy to reduce emissions, impacting
Australia’s global standing as a sustainable economy open to innovative
technologies and solutions.
According to Madew, the RET has supported investment in renewable
energy solutions across the nation, reducing emissions and energy bills for
building owners and tenants alike. Listing out some of the positive outcomes of
the Renewable Energy Target, she said that it has encouraged more than 15,000 businesses
to invest in solar power, and supported more than 13,000 jobs, benefitting the
economy and boosting the country’s international competitiveness.
Many of the 855 Green Star-rated projects around Australia have invested
in renewable energy solutions, with research confirming that such buildings
produce 62 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average Australian
buildings, and use 66 per cent less electricity than their non-green counterparts.
Observing that low-carbon and even carbon-positive buildings are achievable and
affordable, Madew said that the industry’s shift to sustainability should be
supported by the right policies and programs.
Analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance reveals that new investment
in Australian large-scale renewable energy projects fell by 90 per cent over
the year to March. Of the $206.9 million invested, $160 million came from government
agencies such as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy
Finance Corporation that the Coalition government wants to scrap.
Madew explains that encouraging renewable energy use reduces
emissions, encourages innovation and technology advancements, and ultimately
boosts Australia’s international competitiveness and attractiveness to
investors. However, slashing the RET only sells Australia short, leaving it
behind other countries that are embracing renewable energy opportunities and
preparing their economies for a low-carbon future.