Josh Frydenberg: Honouring Paris agreement commitment will not affect electricity prices

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told radio presenter Alan Jones today that sticking to the Paris agreement commitment on emissions reduction makes no difference one way or the other when it comes to energy prices and reliability.

When quizzed about the Paris accord on Jones’ radio show, Frydenberg said the real issue was doing everything possible to reduce power prices.

He said it’s not only a question of emissions, but of what the government is doing to improve reliability, reduce prices, and increase new generation.

‘Business as usual’ will get us to Paris target

In the interview, Frydenberg indicated Australia would reach its emissions reduction target by 2030 through “business as usual”.

Paris agreement commitment graph of effect on emissions for NEM

The ESB says without policies in place, we won’t be meeting our emissions target reductions by 2030. Image: COAG Energy Council

In other words, we can meet the target by continuing to do what we are already doing. The Treasurer said this was due to emerging clean technologies and greater efficiency in the generation of power.

He also said the government’s focus is now on prices and reliability, which may involve keeping coal plants open for longer.

Frydenberg made no commitment to new coal, saying it is “up to the market” to decide. He did, however, reiterate the government’s commitment to new power generation. This could include coal, gas, or another source — although wind and solar power were not mentioned.

Treasurer echoes PM on Paris agreement commitment

Frydenberg’s stance echoed that of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Morrison has indicated that withdrawing from the agreement would make no difference either way. He says Australia can meet its targets “at a canter” and the focus is now on getting electricity prices down.

Morrison also said new power could come from coal and gas. However, he indicated batteries and pumped hydro could be a part of the mix.

Government at odds with its Energy Security Board

However, the Energy Security Board (ESB) disputes that we can meet our emissions targets without policies, according to a report in the Guardian.

The ESB says modelling shows a business-as-usual approach will leave the electricity sector short of the 26 per cent target. This is partly because the Paris agreement applies not just to the energy sector but across the whole economy.

States setting their own clean energy targets

Meanwhile, as the federal government flip-flops on energy policy, states and territories are setting their own energy targets.

Many households and businesses are also taking steps to reduce their power prices and emissions through solar installations, such as rooftop solar panels and solar batteries.