Australia being left behind on renewables

Daniel McCulloch
(Australian Associated Press)


Australia is not doing enough to reduce carbon emissions and risks being left behind as other countries race to embrace renewable energy.

These are the stark findings of a new report scrutinising the performance of countries around the world.

The annual global status report from international network REN21 found 165 countries had renewable targets in place across key sectors of their economies.

Australia was not one of them.

The report emphasised the need for governments to prioritise renewable energy through binding sectoral targets, robust policies and strict regulations.

Australia’s primary mechanism to support renewable energy development lapsed in 2019 and was never replaced.

Kane Thornton from the Clean Energy Council said states and territories were left doing the heavy lifting on emission reductions.

He said the report was yet another reminder that urgent action was required within the next decade for Australia to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

“Renewable energy can deliver strong economic growth while reducing Australia’s carbon footprint and delivering on Australia’s international commitments,” Mr Thornton said.

“The clean energy industry has been the single biggest contributor to Australia’s emissions reductions over the past decade and has proven its ability to meet and beat any target put in front of it.”

Australia ranked 14th in total renewable power capacity at 50 gigawatts.

The Clean Energy Council estimates renewable energy projects in the development pipeline could generate another 47 gigawatts.

“The current pipeline of renewable energy projects could secure nearly 80,000 full-time equivalent jobs,” Mr Thorton said.

“Our sector is ready to deliver career pathways that provide clean, low-cost energy the future workforce can truly aspire to.”

The report found renewable energy made up about 10 per cent of Australia’s energy consumption, ranking the country 12th out of the world’s 20 largest economies.

Australia lagged behind Brazil, Canada, Turkey, the United States, Argentina and India.

But aside from India, Australia was ahead of all other G20 member nations within the Asia-Pacific region.

Australia also led the region in the use of renewable energy in mining.

“Renewables are the way for Australia to harness the opportunity for an electrified future, and there are considerable advantages for our economy if we get it right,” Mr Thornton said.

“Australia has exceptional potential to do well in a world of ambitious climate change mitigation – but only if we plan, prepare and invest in the emerging low and zero emissions opportunities that are before us.”


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