Environment Minister Greg Hunt has expressed strong support for Australia’s renewable energy sector. Mr Hunt has stated that Australia has “no excuse” not to move towards renewable energy due to its numerous economic and environmental benefits.
Following the Coalition’s renewed enthusiasm for environmental action, Mr Hunt has eluded to a growing Government focus on improving Australia’s renewable energy targets.
Under the new Turnbull government, climate action has been a hot topic in political forums due to Turnbull’s well-known moderate political stance compared to Abbott’s more conservative approach.
In an attempt to mend hostile relations between the Coalition and the renewables sector, Mr Hunt said that the industry should feel “very supported” under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Stating that he is seeking to “do more” on combatting climate change, Greg Hunt’s comments have emerged in the lead up to the United Nations climate talks in Paris later this year.
The sudden focus on climate action comes as a starck contrast to the Abbott Government’s weak renewable energy policy and climate action.
How Will The Government Put Words Into Action?
The Government’s stated commitment to environmental policies following the September leadership spill have provided renewed hope for climate scientists and environmentalists.
While the Clean Energy Regulator reported “significant movement” in the sector in recent weeks, the Australian public are yet to see tangible evidence of the policy agenda suggested by Hunt.
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One initiative, the Asia Pacific Rainforest Protection Program, has been said to be the first focus of the government with hopes that the initiative will be adopted globally following talks in Paris.
The government has also appointed five new members to the Climate Change Authority board, which was said to be delayed due to the leadership spill.
The change in perspective on renewable energy policy strongly contradicts the previous government’s antagonism and scepticism towards climate change on the whole.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott consistently expressed contempt for renewable energy, calling wind turbines “ugly”, “noisy” and “visually unpleasant”.
Greg Hunt reassured the renewables sector that they are in a “very supportive environment” under the control of himself, Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Resources and Energy, Josh Frydenberg.
Turnbull Retracts Support for Current Climate Policy
Following the September leadership spill, doubt was raised as to Turnbull’s commitment to climate action. In his acceptance speech he stated that the government was satisfied with the “good piece of work” that is the current environment policy.
Julie Bishop added that the 2030 carbon emission reduction target of a 26 to 28 percent reduction fro 2005 levels would remain the same: an announcement that disappointed many environmentalists.
Former government adviser Bernie Fraser recently accused the Prime Minister of back flipping on his previously strong climate stance, stating that Turnbull’s “courage has deserted him”.
As a long standing critic of the Abbott-Hunt Direct Action Policy, following his acceptance of leadership Turnbull immediately vowed to keep the very policy he had once opposed.
In 2010, Turnbull called the Direct Action Policy “neither economically efficient, nor with it be environmentally effective”.
Bernie Fraser continued “[Turnbull] is just sticking with the status quo… [he is] backing away from what was a pretty strong position earlier on”.
Despite a relatively unchanging stance on carbon reduction, improvement in the renewable energy policy looks promising.