Australia state ministers join forces to push for renewables

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Angered by the Australian government's decision not to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), four state energy ministers have pledged to take a lead in promoting renewable energy development and push for a higher target. The ministers, from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, are also considering the creation of an emissions trading market for the four states, providing a long term national plan for gas, and providing incentives for energy efficiency and demand management. The push for a strengthened MRET has already started. The four say they are optimistic that the Renewable Energy Amendment Bill 2004, introduced into the Senate by Democrat Meg Lees, senator for South Australia, will gain support. The bill calls for an increase in MRET from the current 9500 GWh by 2010 target to 17,300 GWh a year (or 3.5% in real terms) by 2010. "After promising for two years to adopt an energy and greenhouse policy, the Prime Minister has failed to provide any vision or direction, and no rules for future greenhouse emissions. Without clear rules, private sector investment in future power generation is stifled," comments South Australia energy minister Patrick Conlon. Theo Theophanous, energy minister for Victoria agrees. "With the MRET target stalling in 2010, Australia will have a smaller proportion of renewable energy in 2014 than it did in 1997 as a result of increasing demand for energy. This is a formula for Australia slipping behind."

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