Australia: Pro-solar rally slams attack on renewable target

The Australian Solar Council launched a campaign against the federal government making changes to the RET. Its first event in the northeastern state of Queensland on Thursday attracted 500 attendees.

The council’s CEO John Grimes said that a clear message has been sent to the government that Australians in key electorates are willing to vote to defend renewable energy in the country.

“Tonight over 500 solar heroes have come forward to send a clear warning to the Abbott government,” said Grimes. He said the message to Abbott’s conservative government has been clear: “We love solar, solar saves us money on power bills [and] we will vote to defend the Renewable Energy Target!”

The Save Solar campaign has also raised the ire of the government. Environment Minister Greg Hunt slammed John Grimes on ABC Radio, saying that he is not being consistent.

"I think John Grimes should be utterly ashamed of himself today, he is somebody who says one thing in private, another thing in public," Hunt said. He continued that the government was, "committed to the long term future of renewable energy in Australia.”

Grimes countered saying that the Environment Minister Hunt has refused to say what the government’s plans for the RET were.

“The Environment Minister should be attacking the Prime Minister’s radical plan to shut down the solar industry, not shooting the messenger,” said Grimes. “Today’s outburst shows how scared the Government is of this national campaign to Save Solar taking hold.”

There have been a host of surveys showing that Australians are supportive of renewable energy and the RET. With over 1.3 million solar households around the country, certainly a large number of people have first hand experience of solar.

The Australian Newspaper, a Rupert Murdoch owned publication that is generally skeptical of climate change and is often critical of renewable energy has been running a series of surveys about Australian’s attitudes towards renewables. In its most recent survey, it found that 88% of Australians support renewable energy, while only 8% report being “totally against.”

The Australian currently has a second survey live here.

Australia’s Clean Energy Council is also currently campaigning against changes to the RET. It’s CEO Kane Thornton argues that even a reduction of the RET to a "true 20%," proposed as a compromise measure, would devastate the renewable energy industry in Australia.