Renewable Energy key to reducing carbon emissions

28 March 2014

Renewable energy has been the key driver of Australia’s carbon emissions reductions

The Renewable Energy Target (RET) is responsible for reducing Australia’s emissions by an equivalent of 22.5 megatonnes of CO2 between 2001 and 2012.

The Renewable Energy Target mandates that each year until 2020 an increasing amount of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources. The large-scale scheme has a target of 41,000 gigawatt hours by 2020 and will be the main contributor to future emissions reductions.

Lower wholesale electricity prices and economy wide benefits

The prima facie cost of the renewable energy scheme to households represents around 3 to 5 per cent of the unit cost of electricity. However, because renewable generators have no fuel costs they bid generation into the electricity market at lower prices than thermal generators, resulting in lower wholesale electricity pool prices that more than offset the prima facie cost of the scheme.

Investment in the renewables sector flows throughout Australian economy in the form of jobs and increased economic activity. The RET has generated more than 24,000 jobs and $18.5 billion of investment, and is projected to generate a further $18.7 billion of investment by 2030.

CCA advises increasing Australia’s emissions reduction target to 19 per cent

The Climate Change Authority (CCA) released a report in March 2014, having reviewed the scale and pace of global action on climate change. The report noted that the world’s two largest emitters, China and the United States, are increasing their emissions reduction targets and investing heavily in renewable energy.

To make a more credible response to the latest climate science, the Authority found that committing to a 19 per cent target instead of a five per cent target spreads the efforts of reducing emissions more equitably between this generation and future generations of Australians, while avoiding higher costs and a more disruptive transition later. Any move to weaken Australia’s RET will raise the spectre of sovereign risk making this challenge even greater and more costly.

Join the supporters

Over 39,000 Australians have signed an open letter at to urge the Commonwealth Government to take action on climate change. The open letter, addressed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and opposition leader Bill Shorten, calls for the Government to take stronger and more meaningful actions on climate change and for continued support for Australia’s renewable energy target.

If you want to show your support for the open letter to the Government, visit



For further information please contact:
Marju Tonisson, Communications Coordinator
Ketan Joshi, Research and Communications Officer
Tel +61 2 8031 9900