The Renewable Energy Target (RET) is arguably Australia’s most effective emissions reduction policy (far more so than the carbon price). Combined with a drop in electricity demand since 2009, the construction of wind and solar power has helped drop the price of wholesale electricity, which has forced the closure of around 3000MW of coal power in recent months.
The RET is a fixed electricity generation target for the year 2020. Due to falling demand for electricity, what was originally aiming for 20% of electricity production by 2020 has now risen to around 22-25% by 2020. This of course is great news, but not for the companies that own gas and coal mines and power stations, as renewable energy is out-competing them and they are losing profits.
The RET is now being reviewed by the Climate Change Authority with a preliminary report released today. Origin Energy and Energy Australia (formerly TRUenergy) have been running a campaign to get the RET reduced or scrapped. In a submission to the Climate Change Authority, Origin Energy used dubious figures to claim that the RET was costing consumers large amounts of money. What they really care about of course is their own profits, not the costs for consumers, which renewable energy will help reduce in the medium and long terms.
Origin Energy spends a lot of time greenwashing themselves, running advertisements presenting the company as a supporter of GreenPower and electric vehicles. The truth is that they are doing their best to thwart a transition to a clean energy future.
Considering the urgency of the climate crisis, and the potential that we have already crossed tipping points into runaway climate change (such as the record Arctic sea ice melt this year), it is obscene for companies to be lobbying against renewable energy, and asking for the RET to be reduced. In truth, it should be at least doubled for 2020 with a 100% renewable energy target in place for some time in the 2020s.
We urge all Origin Energy customers to switch retailers and make sure you tell them why when you do. You can also sign this petition which will go to the Origin Energy annual general meeting on 12 November.