Few in the Australian solar and energy storage sector will rejoice and re-appointment of Angus Taylor as Energy Minister in the re-elected Coalition Federal Government. Although the addition of emissions reduction to his portfolio indicates that some action on climate change is now in Taylor’s remit, more ambition with this regard is unlikely.
In a tweet posted on Sunday, Taylor said that he is “Honoured to be appointed Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction in the Morrison Government. I look forward to getting on with the job of lowering power prices for Australian families and businesses, and ensuring we stay on track to meet our 2030 emissions reduction target.”
“Emissions Reduction” had been separated from he energy portfolio when Scott Morrison was installed PM. Previously, in the second Turnbull Ministry Josh Frydenberg had the role of Minister of both Energy and the Environment.
The bringing together of energy and emissions reduction appears encouraging, particularly considering the transformation to renewables is transforming the electricity sector. However, strengthened Queensland LNP members will likely push for a pro-coal agenda, in opposition to more moderate conservative MPs from Victoria and New South Wales. It appears likely there will be more Coalition MPs from Queensland than NSW elected to the 46th Parliament.
Much of Taylor’s efforts towards reducing emissions will be found in his presiding over the Climate Solutions Fund, the Abbott-era rebrand that the Morrison Government believes will carry Australia to its Paris emissions targets ‘in a canter’. The Annual UN Environment Emissions Gap Report, released late last year, placed Australia among a number of countries lagging behind in their emissions reductions.
Taylor has hardly been the greatest supporter of renewables over the course of his career. However, much of his umbrage has been directed towards wind power, although few in solar would be encouraged by his re-appointment.
In his inaugural speech, hosted by the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia in August of last year, Taylor saw “a strong role for commercially viable renewables, alongside continued focus on coal and gas… as well as hydro, solar is playing an increasingly important role in our networks.” Consistent with this rather tepid, perhaps even ironically unenergetic approach, is Taylor’s decision to leave the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) unchanged.
The Australian Energy Council congratulated the Hon Angus Taylor MP on his reappointment.
Author: Blake Matich