In a direct contradiction to the ongoing argument that a commitment to steeper emissions reduction targets would negatively affect Australian power bills, new research appears to show otherwise.
Findings released this week from the Australian Council of Social Service (Acoss) and the Brotherhood of St Laurence suggest that even stringent targets to significantly reduce Australian emissions from fossil fuel sources will have no obvious impact on household bills.
This is in opposition to the current view within Parliament. The National Energy Guarantee (NEG) plan sought by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to deliver lower emissions resulted in a leadership spill that cost him his position. He was since replaced by Scott Morrison, who has shown no public desire to follow the same path.
Turnbull found the political appetite lacking to push through a bill with emissions targets that would bring Australia in line with its commitments to the Paris climate change accord signed in 2015. However, it appears that the bill may not have had a negative effect on Australian households.
Frontier Economics programmed four different models as part of its research to determine the scenarios that would pose the greatest threat to low bills. It emerged that all suggested models, from emissions staying at current levels to reductions of 26%, 45% and 65%, would lead to a drop in Australian household energy bills by 2030.
Although the levels of savings would end up varying statewide, the research suggests that every Australian state would see positive returns on a greater push for reducing emissions. Even if levels stayed the same and no political progress occurred, there would still be an average saving of 18.5% in the next decade.
Further savings would result from more ambitious targets. A 20.8% reduction would occur if the previous government emissions target of 26% went ahead, and emissions drops of 45% and 65% would lead to national average savings of 18.3% and 15% respectively. This suggests that the government target in line with the Paris accord was, in fact, the best option for average Australians to save money on their bills and play a part in climate change solutions.
The savings figures, calculated from the average price forecast for 2030 across key states, reveal that a greater input of renewable energies into the grid would start to pay off when it came to household power bills.
Cassandra Goldie, Chief Executive of Acoss, said that there was enough certainty in the modeling to show that the concept of reduced emissions leading to an increase in bills was not accurate.
Goldie said that these claims from politicians in Parliament were a “disservice to our community, especially to people on low incomes.” She also looked to dismiss the idea that people had to “choose between cheaper energy prices and limiting global warming.”
Although the political fallout that saw the end of the Turnbull leadership centered in part around the NEG, Prime Minister Morrison’s party will, in fact, begin to pursue plans to lower emissions once again.
Angus Taylor, the new Energy Minister, said that the government will again commit to interventions in the market where necessary and that these will include aspects such as default pricing and the ability to split big energy companies that engage in price-gouging consumers.