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'Get cracking': Bowen says fast renewables transition crucial

Politics

Australia’s energy supply will be assured by a faster transition to renewables but the “safety net” capacity mechanism will not impact the emissions reduction target, the climate change minister says.

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The government will also push ahead on legislating its 43 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 target despite the opposition declaring it will not support it.

Chris Bowen wants faster progress to transform Australia’s energy sector but says state governments will have flexibility in how they guarantee electricity supply.

“This is a massive transformation which we need to get cracking on,” he told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

“We need the capacity mechanism to help us do that, to provide that safety net as we engage in this very significant transformation to a much more renewable economy.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said businesses were welcoming the government’s commitment to renewables as they needed policy certainty in order to invest.

The government was committed to proper policies to deal with existing challenges rather than “a glib headline that lasts 24 hours”, he said.

“We’re bringing people together to provide that investment certainty going forward,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Hobart.

“I will lead a government that actually makes a difference and doesn’t just release a media release.”

A proposed capacity mechanism is being discussed by state and territory energy ministers with their federal counterparts to ensure reliability of power supply during the transition period.

But the design of the mechanism is still under way.

“We all want (a capacity mechanism) to support storage, we all want it to support new technologies and the massive transformation to an 82 per cent renewable grid which the government is committed to,” Bowen said.

The government will legislate its emissions reduction target which Bowen said would not be impacted by the use of coal and gas as a safety net.

The Liberals will not support the government’s efforts to legislate the target, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton confirmed on Tuesday.

But at least two Liberals are not satisfied with their leader’s approach and have indicated they would vote with the government on the matter.

A bipartisan approach to the target should be considered, Tasmanian Liberal MP Bridget Archer told The Guardian.

NSW senator Andrew Bragg said he would be “guided by the views of investors” when considering his support for the legislation.

Meanwhile, independent MP Zoe Daniel said rather than become obsessed with a number, it was more important to take action to achieve emissions reduction.

In the lead-up to the May election, Daniel campaigned on a bigger emissions target, proposing 60 per cent reductions alongside other teal independents.

By taking action pushed by independent MPs Labor could exceed their target, Daniel told Sky News on Wednesday.

“Let’s focus on being ambitious, rather than on hitting a particular number,” she said.

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