Media Releases | 9th Jun, 2017

Response to the Finkel Review

Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle said today:

“We welcome the Chief Scientist’s confirmation that under the Turnbull government’s current policy settings there is no credible pathway to achieving Australia’s Paris climate commitments and consumers are paying more for energy.

“Frustratingly, the entire Finkel report is predicated on changing the energy market to reach the Coalition’s weak emissions targets of 26-28% reductions by 2030, which are much weaker than Australia’s fair share of emissions reductions to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees.

“While the report is touted as major reform to our electricity market, the report’s suggestion that there will be no significant decrease in output from brown coal generators before 2030 is fanciful. Yallourn and the Loy Yang power stations are the dirtiest power stations in the country and can’t keep polluting indefinitely.”

On the recommendation that large generators provide three years’ notice prior to closure:

“Expecting coal-burning power stations to voluntarily nominate their closure date three years in advance is wildly unrealistic. In the absence of a government plan for orderly retirement of coal power stations, generators have been reluctant to signal their intentions and give their competitors a leg-up and that’s unlikely to change.

“For the ten coal-burning power stations that have closed in the past seven years in Australia, communities and workers have had on average just four months’ notice from announcement of closure to finally turning off. The best solution to this problem is for government to outline a timetable of power station closure. This gives time for affected communities to prepare for closure with government support, it maximises pollution reduction and it spreads closures across the National Electricity Market.”

On the recommendation to have a non-binding register with long-term expected closure dates for large generators:

“In February 2016, Hazelwood’s owners said the power station would run until 2032. Within 8 months, they were saying it would close in 2017. EnergyAustralia claims Yallourn will operate until 2032. AGL still says Loy Yang A could be operating in 2048. These claims are not worth the paper they’re written on.

“To pretend these ageing and polluting plants will operate that long is an insult to a community that needs to know when to start preparing. Governments need to set clear timelines for retiring all coal power stations – the biggest single source of climate pollution in the country.”

On the recommendation to boost energy efficiency for low-income households:

“We welcome the recommendation that COAG invest more effort into energy efficiency and demand management, with a particular focus on low-income households.

“For too long, regulators have focused only on the supply side while ignoring the cheaper and faster option of energy efficiency.”

Our expectations for the Turnbull government:

“Malcolm Turnbull went to an election with no plan to deal with climate change. With the Finkel Review and the Coalition’s own climate policy review, the Turnbull government has a chance to start restoring their party’s damaged credentials on climate change. But their policy response needs to drive investment in renewable energy, set a timeline for retiring polluting coal and ensure Australia is showing real commitment to cutting emissions, not just doing the bare minimum in meeting their current weak targets.”

For interview and further comment:


Dr Nicholas Aberle, Environment Victoria Campaigns Director
Office: (03) 9341 8112 Mobile: 0402 512 121

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