Australia’s Senate will debate a bill that envisages the nation getting 20 percent of its power from renewable energy, less than a week after rejecting broader legislation aimed at reducing carbon pollution.
The government yesterday split the renewable energy bill from the failed legislation. The bill would help spur A$28 billion ($23 billion) of investment and the creation of 28,000 jobs in industries such as wind and solar power
Without the law, companies and individuals might refrain from buying solar panels and making other clean energy investments. Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, may submit an amended version of the climate legislation in November.
“We need the laws passed in three days, not three months,” Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Officer Matthew Warren said in an e-mailed statement. “The only thing that can stand in its way is political point scoring and gamesmanship.”
The climate-change laws were defeated on Aug. 13 in the senate, where the government needs seven additional votes to pass legislation. The opposition Liberal-National coalition plans to support the renewable energy bill with minor changes and the parliament diary says a debate may start tomorrow.
“The government is determined to do all that we are able to get this legislation through,” Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio today. “It is a Plan B in the sense that the assistance to industry is not as comprehensive.”
The government has changed the concessions it would grant to companies to ensure the renewable energy law passes even while talks continue on the climate legislation, which includes plans for a carbon trading system similar to one used in Europe.
Fewer industries will get government assistance under the renewable energy law than the broader legislation. Alumina smelting, newsprint manufacturing and silicon production will still receive help in minimizing emissions.
“We want the renewable energy legislation passed,” opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt told parliament in Canberra. “We will outline changes to the government today and hope we can make progress.”
The government in May said it would invest A$4.5 billion to help ensure one-fifth of its power generation comes from renewable sources.
The carbon reduction plan would see Australia reduce greenhouse gases by between as much as 15 percent from 2000 levels in the next decade. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has proposed increasing that goal to 25 percent pending an international accord stabilizing carbon levels.