ACT enviro minister Corbell pushes for emissions considerations in state & federal policy-making

ACT energy and environment minister Simon Corbell has notched up a significant win at this week’s COAG meeting, securing an agreement from state and federal energy ministers to take carbon emission seriously in the setting of energy policy.

The ACT has so far led the nation’s renewables and climate efforts, with Corbell combining the energy and the environmental portfolios, and implementing ambitious plans to have 90 per cent renewables by 2020, and slash emissions by 40 per cent.

At the COAG Energy Council meeting in Perth on Thursday, he won support for his strategic issues paper that recognised rooftop solar plus battery storage as a key abatement technology, proposed to align renewable energy policies, and to formulate a plan to retire 5,000MW of redundant coal-fired capacity.

“While energy and carbon policies have traditionally been considered separately their interactions are undeniable,” Corbell said in a statement.

“Climate change can no longer be considered as only an environmental issue. It must now be recognised as a major structural reform agenda for energy ministers and the energy sector.”

Corbell says it was accepted unanimously, including by federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane, that climate was one of the principal issues that had to be addressed in future management of the NEM.

“This is welcome development,” Corbell told RenewEconomy. “For first time we have a statement from this government body saying climate and energy policy must be considered in co-ordinated manner and the governance of the NEM will be a very important part of Australia’s efforts.

“We need to be ahead of the curve on this, and we felt we weren’t.”

Corbell says the agreement will set in train a process where governments and energy market institutions can plan the decarbonisation of the National Electricity Market, a process that Labor intends to accelerate with its 50 per cent renewable energy target for 2030.

The ministers agreed to recognising emerging solar-battery storage products as a potential contributor to decarbonisation and wholesale market development; to develop clear and consistent frameworks for the deployment of the technologies, and to address inefficient battier to solar-battery storage development.

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Giles Parkinson