The majority of Australians look forward to a future fuelled by renewables, new research has found, with many naming solar and wind as their energy sources of choice.
In two separate reports released on Tuesday by The Australia Institute – and co-authored by Dr Jeremy Moss, Director of the Social Justice Initiative at University of Melbourne – more than 80 per cent of people polled named solar and wind in their top three preferred energy sources.
Just 35 per cent of those polled by TAI nominated coal as a preferred energy source, while a further 60 per cent expressed concern about coal and coal seam gas having a detrimental impact on the environment and on human health.
“The government may consider coal to be good for humanity, and wind turbines to be a blight on the landscape but, in the bigger scheme of things, the community simply doesn’t feel the same,” Dr Moss said.
“(Its) recent efforts to scale back the renewable energy target is clearly out of step with strong public demand for more solar and wind technology,” he said.
“Australians are clearly concerned about the existing and long-term impacts of our national addiction to fossil-fuels. They clearly envisage a future powered by renewables.”
The poll results coincide with a renewed plea from the federal government to Labor to immediately recommence negotiations over proposed changes to Australia’s renewable energy target (RET).
The appeal was issued in a letter from Coalition environment minister Greg Hunt to shadow environment minister Mark Butler, calling for a meeting before Christmas, and specifying that “there are no conditions”.
The Labor Party walked away from RET negotiations in mid-November after the Coalition refused to cede ground on its plans to slash the target to a “real” 20 per cent – effectively a cut from 41,000GWh to 26,000GWh, or a reduction of two-thirds of new construction out to 2020.
The opposition says it is willing to go back to the negotiating table, but wants an indication that the Coalition will be flexible.
“The problem with this letter… is it indicates no ability for Greg Hunt and Ian Macfarlane, the government negotiators, to shift from this position that Tony Abbott has dug themselves into from this 40 per cent cut to the Renewable Energy Target, a cut that would rob Australia of billions and billions of dollars of investment in solar and wind and other renewable energy and not to mention the jobs and the reduction in carbon pollution that goes with that,” said shadow environment minister Mark Butler on ABC Radio yesterday morning.
“We’ve said that we’re up for a discussion but this industry, its finance backers have all said that no deal is better than a bad deal here. The Government’s got to show that they’re not committed to a bad deal,” Butler said.
In his letter, Hunt also says the government will hold talks with crossbenchers.
“As a basis for discussions we have committed to no change in household solar energy, we have guaranteed a commitment to 20% renewable energy and we have set no preconditions on discussions,” Hunt wrote.
© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd