The following is a press statement from Friends of the Earth:
Friends of the Earth (FoE) has strongly rejected the findings of yesterday’s Productivity Commission report which recommends ending subsidies to renewable energy.
The report states that “if subsidised renewable electricity sourced from wind or solar displaces gas-fired electricity, the abatement achieved will be far less than if coal-fired electricity generation were displaced.”
“All this apparent commonsense demonstrates is that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” said FoE renewable energy campaigner Ben Courtice.
“We all want to see the end of coal, but a detour into fossil gas is the wrong way to do it.
“If we look at the actual carbon budget, for example in the recent Climate Commission report, we can work out that, for Australia to do its bit, a transition to gas is the wrong approach.
“We need zero emissions energy, not lower emissions energy. This is even more important in light of the huge fugitive emissions of methane from coal-seam gas extraction - the fastest growing part of the gas industry.”
Friends of the Earth are leading environmental campaigners against the dirty coal-seam gas industry which is growing rapidly in Queensland.
Courtice says that government support to renewable energy is vital to reduce greenhouse pollution.
“If a carbon tax was imposed to drive a shift to coal-seam gas, at the same time as cutting support for renewables, this would be a disaster for the climate and for regional Australia.
“The Productivity Commission report itself points out that Germany has a relatively high level of renewable energy, and this is matched by a high level of subsidies. Direct support for renewable energy must continue.
“It’s also important to note that costs of renewable energy are rapidly declining. What seems like a good economic decision today might be a bad one just a couple of years down the track, even if we forget the costs of climate change.
“Add to that the benefits for regional economies with jobs and income from wind farms, for example, and the damage done to the land by gas fracking, and it’s a no-brainer” said Mr Courtice.
Friends of the Earth Melbourne is campaigning against the Victorian state government’s threatened restrictions on the construction of wind farms, and supports the rollout of renewable energy to phase out coal and gas generators.