LAUNCESTON, Australia, Oct 18 (Reuters) – It would be easy to dismiss the Australian government’s discarding of a renewable energy target as a Donald Trump-like attempt to cling on to polluting fossil fuels in the face of the rise of cleaner alternatives.
Certainly, the decision by the centre-right Liberal Party federal government to end subsidies for renewable energy projects and reject advice to set a clean energy target has the appearance of being an abandonment of efforts to mitigate climate change.
There will be no shortage of accusations that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seems eager to walk in the footsteps of U.S. President Trump, who has made it a priority of his administration to support coal-fired power, while expressing doubt about the veracity of man-made climate change.
But rejecting Turnbull’s new energy policy, announced on Tuesday, out of hand would be a mistake as it contains several important factors that may actually go some way to solving the Australian paradox of being a country rich in virtually every source of energy, but also suffering some of the highest electricity prices in the world.
There are two central pillars of Turnbull’s new plan, a reliability guarantee and an emissions guarantee. This means electricity producers will be set targets to deliver power when it’s needed, while at the same time meeting an emissions target aimed at ensuring Australia meets its obligations under the Paris climate agreement.