Chris Bowen in the hot seat of climate change and energy, time to cool it down – Australian pv magazine

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced his new ministry, which will be sworn in at Government House today. Former shadow treasurer Chris Bowen will become the new minister for climate change and energy, taking over the portfolio from Angus Taylor.

Bowen was elected to the Prospect, NSW seat in 2004, and is now a member of McMahon following the redistribution of elections in 2010. Bowen has served as Shadow Minister for climate change and energy since the shadow cabinet reshuffle in January 2021.

The reshuffle saw the shadow minister for climate change and energy, Mark Butler, a senior member of the Labor Left faction and a writer Climate War (a report on Australia’s dismal history of internecine climate politics) was replaced by Bowen, a member of the Labor Rights faction. This softening of Labor’s climate policy and rhetoric is expected to attract more centrist voters, and judging by Labor’s stunning election victory, the decision is paying off.

Work to be done

Energy Networks Australia (ENA) welcomes Bowen’s appointment to its climate change and energy portfolio, with ENA CEO Andrew Dillon saying the sector looks forward to working with Bowen to deliver Australia’s transition to a zero emission clean energy system.

“Australia’s energy grid has an important role to play in the decarbonization of the energy system. Our members are aligned on the importance of creating a system-wide approach that sees transmission, distribution and gas networks working together to achieve Australia’s net zero ambitions,” said Dillon.

“Timely and efficient investment in new transmissions is an urgent priority and we look forward to working with future governments to ensure the Rewiring the Nation policy delivers more of what consumers need for connected grid electricity,” continued Dillon, adding that recently elected Australian Policy to convene a national energy council meeting urging state and territory energy ministers to be “strongly supported.”

After Angus Taylor’s leadership saw so much antagonism between state and territory leaders and the federal government, it’s no wonder ENA is hoping to work in a more coherent outfit.

Re-alignment with states and territories will be the number one taxi rank for Bowen. So far, investment and support for renewable energy has been lagging behind at the federal level, which is why states and territories are taking control of their own.

Once states and territories and the Commonwealth are on the same page, the big task will be to regulate the processes and regulations around the development of the power transmission grid, particularly if Australia is to meet Labor’s target of 82% renewable energy by 2030 or more. the optimistic scenario envisaged under the Australian Energy Market Operators Integrated Systems Plan (ISP) (AEMO).

During the election, the Labor Party proposed $20 billion for the expansion of the transmission network to unlock Australia’s renewable energy potential. But upgrading interstate infrastructure and opening up the proposed renewable energy zone will require more than the proposed figures.

Of course, none of this mentions the problem of pressing into every Australian’s pocket today, or at least, every Australian who hasn’t protected their back pocket with rooftop solar and, even better, a residential battery system. That is, soaring energy prices.

Fearful of embarrassment, former prime minister Morrison pushed for the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) release of a new default market offering (DMO) until after the election. Fortunately Morrison remained embarrassed.

Nevertheless, the DMO means the price spike shows no signs of stopping. The increase was partly the result of geopolitical and macroeconomic conditions. But as Bowen pointed out in his speech last week, “Higher prices are the result of nine years of policy failure … the fact is a lack of energy policy, a lack of investment in new energy, a lack of investment in renewables. energy, and the lack of transmission over the last nine years, means that Australians are paying more for electricity than they should be.”

“Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy,” Bowen continued. “The good news is that Australia now has a Government that will produce more renewable energy through our investment in the grid.”

“Angus Taylor knows this electricity price will go up. Angus Taylor knew that this report would come out. Angus Taylor and Scott Morrison know that the result of their policy is that Australians pay more for their electricity prices. They went through the entire election campaign without telling the truth. They sat on this report, they agreed to postpone it until after the election. This is Angus Taylor’s legacy, they raised the price of electricity and they weren’t honest about it.”

Interestingly, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked the Coalition to provide bipartisan support to Labor’s energy policies. Whether the upcoming shadow energy minister and the federal Coalition will listen is another matter.

Clean Energy Council (CEC) CEO Kane Thornton posted a letter to the new minister of climate change and energy on Twitter last week, urging Bowen to fulfill his renewable energy pledge. “I hope you’re well rested,” Thornton said, “because there’s so much to do, and no time to be wasted.”

“Mind, you don’t have to do everything,” continued Thornton. “State and territory governments are responding to a policy vacuum and improving … If we do it right, we are putting Australia back on track to becoming a global clean energy superpower and restoring our rightful place as a shining example of a modern and prosperous economy powered by clean energy. reliable, cheap and clean. Saturday shows the Australian public is with us, so let’s get started.”

Remove policy

Perhaps Bowen’s greatest job is to provide the policy clarity that investors so desperately need. It co-founder of global renewable energy investor Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners (QIP), David Scaysbrookwho previously cited Australia’s federal policy inaction as a reason investors were tired, said the 2022 election had put “Australia back on the map in the eyes of global institutions looking to renewable and decarbonised industries.”

The benefits of a clear policy on climate change were demonstrated by the Albanese prime minister when he joined fellow leaders from the US, Japan and India at the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) on his first day in office. And again by the new Foreign Minister Penny Wong, whose climate-oriented visit to Fiji played a major role in the 10 Pacific nations rejecting a new deal with China.

Pitch Wong to the Pacific community strongly emphasized the newly elected Australian government’s determination to act on climate change, a plea well received by Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, who described his meeting with Wong as “extraordinary” while also lashing out at former Australians. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments referred to the Pacific as Australia’s “backyard”.

Majority rule

With Labor likely to have secured a majority government with a 77th seat, the Albanese prime minister didn’t have to strike a crossbench deal to find a speaker, a crossbench that was greatly expanded by the inclusion of the climate-oriented independent Teal. This may mean less pressure on governments to pursue strong policies on climate change.

However, the numbers are still limited and this historic meeting will no doubt play a big role in the next parliament, which will be held at the end of July.

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