The Climate Council has lashed out at the Federal Government after it announced intentions to underwrite two new gas-fired power stations.
On Monday, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor announced the agreement of key initial support terms for the two power plants – APA Group’s proposed 220MW generator in Dandenong, Victoria and Quinbrook’s proposed 132MW facility in Gatton, Queensland.
The projects were among those shortlisted for the Underwriting New Generation Investments program (UNGI). 66 submissions were received for UNGI, with 12 making the final cut – six pumped hydro storage, five gas and one coal power station upgrade.
Minister Taylor says the two fossil fuel projects are well advanced, have demonstrated financial viability, would secure the grid and put downward pressure on electricity prices.
The Climate Council sees things very differently.
“The Federal Government has a shameful track record of attempting to fly under the radar and avoid scrutiny by making climate-related announcements before major holidays,” said Dr Martin Rice, Climate Council’s Head of Research.
Dr. Rice said the Morrison Government is putting lives, the economy and environment at risk through supporting projects increasing carbon pollution and making events such as bushfires worse.
“All Australians want for Christmas is a government that responds to growing public concern about climate change with credible policies that deliver deep, rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and moves the economy beyond fossil fuels to clean, safe renewable energy,” stated Dr. Rice.
Climate Councillor Professor Will Steffen says while federal politicians have acknowledged the influence of climate change on the bushfire crisis, this is meaningless if they continue to support fossil fuel projects instead of delivering the urgent and significant emissions reductions required.
Final agreement on the gas power plants is expected next year, with construction to commence shortly after; assuming the projects secure private sector finance.
New Coal Power Still On The Cards
Also continuing to raise concerns are the Government’s intentions regarding new coal power stations. On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated coal burners were still on the table.
“Firstly, there is a proposal for coal still up in north Queensland which we are accepting a report on very, very soon, there are some others in New South Wales and we will see where that goes,” he said.
The Prime Minister said he was “quite agnostic” on the topic of energy, as long as it’s reliable and cheaper – and that he will continue to fulfil his promise to the Australian people to take action on climate change.