PUP stands by Aussie RE goal

Australia's Palmer United Party (PUP) will not support any changes to the Renewable Energy Target (RET) before 2016, said party leader Clive Palmer, amid speculation that the government will seek to abolish the flagship target.

Mining magnate Palmer – whose party holds the balance of power in the country’s Senate – and other high-profile industry groups in Australia have issued statements warning the federal government that abolishing, or even scaling back the RET will tarnish the country's reputation as an investment destination.

Media reports suggest that the decision has already been made, although not yet officially announced, to abolish the target altogether, rather than reduce it.

The current target states that 20% of Australia's electricity supply must come from renewable sources by 2020.

Some of its supporters would accept having it reduced, which would mean scaling back to 25TWh from the 41TWh required at the moment.

Supporters of this so-called "true 20%" option said that abandoning the policy altogether would amount to breaking an election promise and would risk the Senate blocking any changes.

PUP's support for the RET at the existing 41TWh level has now been reiterated, according to Australian reports. The Labor opposition and the Greens also back the RET status quo, leaving Prime Minister Tony Abbott unable to end the policy.

Palmer said that the Abbott-led Coalition had promised before the election that Australia would retain its renewable energy target.

"Now he seeks to break this promise. We will therefore not support any change to the RET before 2016," said Palmer.

Removing entirely the RET would be "reckless", said Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton.

"It would devastate billions of dollars of investments," added Thornton.

The Australian Solar Council has also announced that it is embarking on a marginal seat campaign to pressure the government against making any changes to the RET, planning to begin near Brisbane, eastern Australia, which has a large take-up rate of solar rooftop panels.

The RET review outcome, headed by climate sceptic Dick Warburton, is due in the next few weeks.