The minister responsible for reducing Australia’s carbon pollution has backed the ongoing operations of ageing coal-fired power plants while also shrugging off Friday’s massive protests for stronger climate action.
Quizzed on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday, Angus Taylor warned that the planned closure in 2023 of AGL’s Liddell plant must not be allowed to affect supplies or cause price spikes.
Mr Taylor has not ruled out using the government’s so-called “big stick” legislation – which threatens to break up power companies found to be raising prices unfairly.
“If there is not either extension or like-for-like replacement this will be unacceptable,” he said of the Liddell shuttering, predicting it will see “see upward pressure on prices and a loss of reliability.”
Asked how he felt about Friday’s rallies in capital cities and towns across the country, Mr Taylor insisted the nation is on track to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris target – a 26 per cent to 28 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030.
“This has to be globally coordinated action and Australia needs to do its bit, and we are,” Mr Taylor said.
School students and workers took to the streets on Friday to demand a transition to zero emissions and 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
“It’s good to see we’ve got active citizens amongst our kids, we always encourage that,” said Mr Taylor, who added a caveat. “I don’t think it should be at the expense of their education.”
Australia’s emissions have increased over the past few years, largely on the back of rising LNG exports, as well as steel and aluminium production.
Mr Taylor has framed the rise of local emissions due to LNG as a positive for the world, arguing that countries like China, Japan and South Korea have lowered emissions by using LNG.
But he wouldn’t be drawn on Australia’s coal exports, which are having the opposite effect.
The minister says the Coalition’s climate-solutions package has been mapped out “to the last tonne” how Australia will meet its 2030 targets.
The government has set aside $2 billion to pay companies for projects to reduce Australia’s emissions by 100 million tonnes, making up the largest portion of the plan.