Environment group Friends of the Earth have welcomed the Andrews government's announcement they will increase Victoria's Renewable Energy Target to 50 percent by 2030 if re-elected at November's state election, and say it overshadows the Matthew Guy opposition's poor stance on climate and renewables.
"When it comes to renewable energy in Victoria, more ambition means more jobs and investment across the state" said Pat Simons, Friends of the Earth's renewable energy spokesperson.
In the leadup to the state election both Labor and the Greens have unveiled plans to boost the state's supply of renewable energy, yet Matthew Guy's Liberal opposition still has no solid renewable energy plan just weeks out from the poll.
The Andrews government announcement is a wakeup call that Matthew Guy needs to level up on renewable energy and state his position: does he support jobs and investment? If not, he risks being cast aside in the political wilderness for another term.
Matthew Guy's current pledge to axe the VRET puts over 11,000 new jobs and as much as $9 billion in investment at risk.
“Sadly for the Victorian Liberal party it seems that Matthew Guy has decided to follow Scott Morrison's misguided obsession with coal rather than offering an ambitious plan on renewable energy, which is widely popular with the electorate" said Simons.
Ramped up renewables ambition could help Labor's prospects in key marginal seats such as Ripon where the VRET has created jobs and delivered an economic boost for the region.
The first round of auctions to meet Victoria's Renewable Energy Target has been a great success, and has helped secure 30 new jobs at wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince in Portland, a new wind turbine hub manufacturing facility in Geelong and is set to create hundreds of construction jobs as work begins on six new wind and solar farms.
Friends of the Earth are seeking clarification on whether the Andrews government intends to legislate the target of 50% renewable energy by 2030 as they have with the 2020 and 2025 targets.
The boost brings the Andrews government's renewable energy policies into alignment with Queensland and the alternative federal government – the Shorten opposition shares a renewable energy target of 50 percent by 2030.
Friends of the Earth climate change spokesperson Leigh Ewbank says climate change will be a key issue for the next state government.
The Victorian Climate Change Act 2017 obliges the state government to set interim Emissions Reduction Targets for 2025 and 2030 by March 2020. Ramping up Victoria's Renewable Energy Targets can drive emissions cuts towards the legislated target of zero-net emissions by 2050.
"Labor's commitment to 50 percent renewables shows they're acting to cut emissions from the electricity sector," said Leigh Ewbank.
"We need the Victorian Labor party to take the same level of ambition to cutting emissions from transport, land-use, and industry."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) special report says emissions from fossil fuel, industry, and land use must be halved by 2030 and eliminated entirely by 2050 to avoid catastrophic impacts.
The ramped up renewables target is expected to be a key topic of discussion at an upcoming candidates forum in Portland on Victoria's Energy Future.