Turnbull’s national energy guarantee could have ‘no meaningful emission reduction’ | Australia news

The Turnbull government’s national energy guarantee will deliver no meaningful emissions reductions in its own right unless the proposed 2030 target for Australia’s electricity sector is made more ambitious, according to new research.

Data on renewables compiled by Green Energy Markets and funded by the progressive activist group GetUp indicates the capacity of renewable projects now under construction already exceeds what is required to achieve the 2030 Neg target of a 26% cut on 2005 levels by 2030.

The report draws on economic modelling undertaken for the Energy Security Board to note that an additional 9,271 megawatts of wind and solar will be required in the national electricity market to deliver the Neg emissions reduction target.

It also notes that, as things stand now, 9,691 megawatts of renewable projects is sitting in a pipeline waiting to be delivered – meaning the national target has already been overshot without the policy even taking effect.

“This suggests that the Neg will deliver no meaningful emission reduction benefit unless the emissions target is further tightened,” the report says.

It also notes that the rate of rooftop installations of solar panels is running about 50% higher than the rate assumed in the economic modelling accompanying the Neg, which indicates the current emission reduction target could be substantially strengthened at minimal economic cost.

The research will likely bolster efforts by some of the states and territories to lobby the Turnbull government for more ambition in the emissions reduction component of the Neg, even though the current dynamics of the federal Coalition party room make that almost impossible to deliver.

State and territory energy ministers will meet this Friday with their federal counterpart, Josh Frydenberg, to decide whether to conduct further work on the Neg. The expectation behind the scenes is work will continue but the Labor states have a number of significant concerns about the proposal.

The ACT’s climate change minister, Shane Rattenbury, who has been on the front line of arguments against the scheme, on Tuesday identified five significant concerns about the Neg, including the lowball emissions reduction target and the consequences for action at the state and territory level.

Environment groups have also been active in urging the Labor states not to rubber stamp the Neg, arguing it could compromise the progress underway at state level to rolling out renewable energy projects.

Business and energy stakeholders have been more positive, pointing to recent improvements in the design of the policy, and to the opportunity to forge a bipartisan consensus in a policy area characterised by a decade of partisan warfare.

A range of business, energy and welfare groups are expected on Wednesday to issue a joint statement urging a resolution of the energy policy stand-off.

Frydenberg is urging the states and territories to support the proposal in the national interest, and to “turn a corner” on energy policy.

But GetUp’s energy campaign director, Miriam Lyons, said the new report showed the Neg would be “a giant step backwards on renewables investment in Australia”.

“Malcolm Turnbull isn’t just trying to slam the brakes on renewables, he’s putting the car in reverse,” Lyons said.