Finkel urges PM to adopt clean energy target

Chief scientist Alan Finkel

Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel has urged the federal government to act on his recommended clean energy target before states go it alone.

Speaking at a forum in Melbourne on Monday, Dr Finkel said a failure to establish a clean energy target would see states and territories creating their own emissions reduction schemes, leading to more uncertainty for investors.

After the Finkel review was released, the Victorian Government announced it would establish its own clean energy target if the federal government didn’t commit.

“Every day that goes by until there’s agreement on integrating emissions and energy policy there’s more opportunity for interventions at the state and federal level, which means more uncertainty to persuade investors from making decisions that they would otherwise make,” Finkel said.

Of the 50 recommendations handed down in the Finkel review in June, 49 have been accepted, with the exception of the clean energy target.

“The longer and longer it takes to get final agreement the more likely it is that the states will commit themselves to new schemes and new targets that it will be hard for them to walk away from, and that aren’t harmoniously connected to what the orderly transition will be,” he said.

“All we can do is offer them the carrot of an attractive scheme.”

The proposed clean energy target would see the current target of a 28 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 extended to zero emissions by 2070.

Dr Finkel said the clean energy target would not necessarily mean the closure of coal-fired power stations.

“There are two types of people in the world, those who hate coal and those who love coal,” he said.

“I am the only person in the world who doesn’t mind.”