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IMF urges Australia to tighten controls on industrial polluters

Ms Hammond, a West Australian MP, said a net zero deadline of 2050 “makes economic and environmental sense” while Dr Martin said small and medium-sized businesses in her western Sydney electorate of Reid wanted “ambitious” climate action that would enable them to capitalise on new opportunities.

Mr Frydenberg said on Friday “good progress” had been made in discussions within the Coalition over setting a net zero deadline.

Harald Finger, Washington-based IMF mission chief to Australia, says carbon pricing is the most effective way to transition to a lower emissions economy.

Harald Finger, Washington-based IMF mission chief to Australia, says carbon pricing is the most effective way to transition to a lower emissions economy. Credit:Stephen Jaffe

But Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, whose party is weighing up whether to support a net zero target, said it would not endorse a new climate policy without knowing how the contribution of traditional regional industries such as coal would be replaced.

Labor’s climate change and energy spokesman, Chris Bowen, slammed Mr Frydenberg’s comments as a “pathetic” attempt to reposition himself in line with the Prime Minister’s expected commitment to net zero ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow in November.

Mr Bowen said the Treasurer had voted against climate action in Parliament and attacked renewable energy targets.

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“It was just a last-minute attempt to try and position himself in internal Liberal Party politics as being some sort of modern forward-looking Liberal,” he said. “If Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg really think that net zero is such a good idea, why don’t they get on with it? Enough speeches, enough sound grabs, positioning – change the policy of the country.”

Meanwhile, state and federal energy ministers agreed on Friday to continue working on reforms to the National Energy Market to keep pace with the rise of renewable energy.

Central to their agenda is a controversial scheme, being driven by federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor, to create a “capacity mechanism” to spur investment into dispatchable energy generation that can quickly ramp up to supply power when the wind isn’t blowing and sun isn’t shining.

Mr Taylor insists the mechanism would be technology-neutral, with equal opportunity for gas, pumped hydro and batteries. But it has drawn criticism from environmental advocates who dubbed it “CoalKeeper” because it may see coal plants paid to remain in the grid longer to guarantee future supply.

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Unanimous support is required for the reform and the states agreed to co-operate to finalise the scheme’s design, which could take 18 months to complete.

The ministers also agreed on a broader package of reforms, recommended by the Commonwealth’s adviser, the Energy Security Board, which will be presented to national cabinet in October.

The reforms will be designed to enable states to finance strategic energy reserves for the grid, create new rules to integrate the rise in rooftop solar and other consumer-generated energy into the electricity market, and create a national framework to guide the expansion of the transmission links required to connect new renewable energy zones into the network.

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