Let's talk about a carbon price: Labor MP

Let's talk about a carbon price: Labor MP


National News
The Clean Energy Council says investments in new renewable energy projects has plunged this year.

The Clean Energy Council says investments in new renewable energy projects has plunged this year.

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A senior Labor figure wants Australia to discuss the elephant in the room - a carbon price. In a speech to parliament on Wednesday Joel Fitzgibbon pointed out...

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A senior Labor figure wants Australia to discuss the elephant in the room - a carbon price.

In a speech to parliament on Wednesday Joel Fitzgibbon pointed out that Australia's emissions have been rising since Labor's carbon tax was replaced with the coalition's reverse-auction scheme.

Australia is not on track to meet the 2030 Paris targets, he added.

The scheme, where polluters try to outbid each other with the most cost-effective projects to cut carbon emissions, is the centrepiece of the Morrison government's climate plan.

But Mr Fitzgibbon said the most recent auction, held in July, paid less than $15-a-tonne for abatement.

Some methods of abatement cost up to $80 per tonne, he added.

"I know some members will be thinking: 'Do we have to talk about the carbon price again'?," he said.

"Of course we do. It has to be part of the mix if we are to meet our Paris targets.

"We do need to start talking more about the elephant in the room."

The CEOs of mining giants Woodside Petroleum, BHP and Rio Tinto all support a carbon price, which has been rejected by Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

Mr Taylor has instead boosted the auction fund with $2 billion, with the goal of contracting projects that reduce Australia's emissions by 100 million tonnes.

The most recent auction paid a total of $840,000 to three projects, in order to reduce pollution by 59,000 tonnes.

"It will take their policy some 833 years to deliver the abatement results they've been promising for 2030," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Mr Taylor attended a Clean Energy Council event at Parliament House on Wednesday evening, telling industry stakeholders he wanted to cut through the ideology and politics.

"If we can get beyond the proselytising and the politics, and focus on the problem solving, I think we can solve the problems," he said.

Labor's energy spokesman Mark Butler told stakeholders to keep striving for a bipartisan policy.

"The next election is still almost three years away and we can't wait that long," he said.

"The energy crises will get worse. Prices will continue to rise."

Greens leader Richard Di Natale also addressed the event, shunning the niceties to tell the group to get angry and speak up when they feel attacked by conservative politicians who question renewables.

In a briefing paper released on Wednesday, the Clean Energy Council said investments in new renewable energy projects plunged this year, after reaching a high in late-2018.

The figures come about a week after Australia met its 2020 renewable energy target, which the federal government doesn't plan to extend.

Under the target, 33,000 gigawatt-hours - or 23.5 per cent - of Australia's electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020.

Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton fears future investments will drop off without a new target, which could lead to higher power prices and risk the reliability of electricity.

Australian Associated Press

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