Australia may agree the final rules of its contentious National Energy Guarantee by August after winning cautious backing from states and territories for a policy the ruling Coalition hopes will end a decade of policy paralysis.
Energy ministers from Australia’s six states and two territories signed off on a preliminary deal to back the scheme at a Council of Australian Governments meeting held in Melbourne, according to an emailed statement from the COAG Energy Council. The government appointed Energy Security Board has been instructed to develop the detailed design of the guarantee ahead of a follow-up meeting due August.
The decision “is a big step forward in delivering a more affordable and reliable energy system as we transition to a lower emissions future,” Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said in an emailed statement. “There was a lot of good will in the room, and while there is still much work to do, there was a commitment to getting an outcome in August.”
While the basic concept of the guarantee has attracted preliminary support from influential business lobby groups and some of the nation’s biggest corporations including BHP Billiton Ltd., it faces a more difficult task to win unanimous political backing. The majority of states and territories are governed by Labor, the main political opponent to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ruling Liberal-National coalition. Queensland and Victoria states remain concerned by what they see as the guarantee’s modest target of reducing 2005 emission levels by 26 percent by 2030. Queensland’s Labor government, which plans a 50 percent renewable target by 2030, said it “had not been provided the information it needed to make a call.”