According to a new report by Amandine Denis-Ryan, CEO of IEEFA Australia, the Australian government’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and developing renewable energy lacks a coordinated plan to meet its targets. The report suggests that contradictions and inconsistencies between government objectives are causing confusion among industry and investors.
Australia has legislated a net-zero emissions target by 2050 and a goal to reduce GHG emissions by 43% from 2005 levels by 2030. However, multiple studies indicate that Australia needs to cut emissions by over 60% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions before 2040 to align with the global objective of limiting climate change to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
While the federal government has announced various objectives, initiatives, and pledges supported by significant funding, it has not provided a clear articulation of how it will achieve its targets. Some areas lack specific targets altogether, such as hydrogen production, methane emissions reduction, electric vehicle uptake, and energy efficiency improvements.
Denis-Ryan emphasizes that Australia lacks a shared national view on how the transition to renewable energy will occur, leading to confusion and discrepancies in government advice and decisions. The absence of an overarching national energy transition strategy has resulted in a heavy reliance on contradictory scenarios from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which were not originally designed for this purpose.
The report highlights issues with AEMO scenarios, including the failure of the most likely scenario to meet the 1.5°C objective, hydrogen ambitions, and Victoria’s emissions reduction targets. Clean energy investors have raised concerns about the assumptions behind AEMO’s scenario modeling and have developed an alternative scenario they consider more practical and commercially credible.
Denis-Ryan suggests that national energy pathways should integrate electricity and fuels transitions and prioritize demand-side solutions before focusing on increased supply. She emphasizes the importance of demand-side solutions in achieving global climate goals and calls for comprehensive energy pathways that support planning decisions and provide recommendations for essential supply projects, phasing out infrastructure assets, and prioritizing resource usage for both domestic energy needs and exports.
Overall, the report underscores the need for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to Australia’s renewable energy transition, addressing the inconsistencies and uncertainties currently hindering progress.