The renewable energy sector is collapsing in Australia due to “immature” environmental politics, say industry insiders.
A Climate Council report says investment in the industry has dropped by 70 per cent over the past year.
Green business has been driven overseas to China and other nations, according to the report, Lagging Behind: Australia and the Global Response to Climate Changes.
“People won’t invest in an environment where there’s political uncertainty,” said co-author and former CEO of BP Australasia Gerry Hueston.
He pointed to the reviews of the Renewable Energy Target scheme, the lack of commitment on an emissions reduction target and the scrapped carbon tax as having created a landscape of shifting sands.
“This is an industry that makes long-term investments and considers long-term risks but the government is thinking short-term measures,” Mr Hueston said.
Veteran energy sector figure Andrew Stock described the need for a renewable energy industry as the major long-term economic issue.
“If we don’t act on building this industry, this country will lose its capacity to build the next generation’s fleet of stations to replace ageing coal-fired stations,” said the report co-author.
“We’re missing out on investment, we’re missing out on jobs.”
The report comes as the Abbott government yielded to international pressure to put climate change on the agenda for the G20 summit later this week.
“For my international colleagues, they’re struck by the immaturity of the debate in Australia,” said report co-author, Professor Tim Flannery.
“(Overseas) there’s long-term strategic thinking, but here we seem to be flailing about and chopping and changing policies which disadvantage business and just add cost,” he said.