The government on Monday reached an agreement with the opposition Labor party on a Renewable Energy Target for Australia after dropping a requirement that the target be reviewed every two years.
The parties reached an agreement earlier this month to target 33,000 GWh of electricity from renewables sources in 2020, down from the current 41,000 GWh.
But last week Labor backed out of the compromise deal after the government wanted to include a provision that the target was to be reviewed every two years, a demand that sparked outrage in the renewables industry, which has been left crippled after last year’s review process ended with a proposal to nearly cut the target in half.
But the government dropped the demand on Monday.
“We think we have found a better way, which suits the needs of all parties and in particular the transparency requirements so as we can see progress towards the target,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt told reporters.
The Clean Energy Regulator will publish an annual update on progress made towards meeting the target.
The new compromise means the one-year stand-off between the government and Labor on the RET has been solved, although some disagreement still remains over the government’s plan to include energy generation from burning of forests in the target.
Mark Butler, Labor’s shadow environment minister, indicated on Twitter that the party would stop any inclusion of wood waste in the RET legislation, but that it would not block the entire bill.
If Govt puts wood waste in legislation, we’ll vote it down and move motion to exclude it 2/3 #RET
— Mark Butler MP (@Mark_Butler_MP) May 18, 2015
The inclusion of wood waste in the target sparked criticism from green groups, claiming it would undermine the target.
“While the Government has finally ended the impasse over the immediate future of renewable energy in Australia, it continues to stoke the fires of controversy by seeking a backdoor route to classing burning native forests as renewable,” said Warrick Jordan, a national forest campaign manager with the Wilderness Society.
“In reality the plan would allow open slather on forests to be cut down, woodchipped and burnt as renewable energy.”
By Stian Reklev – email@example.com