find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Energy laws debate continues to rage

Energy laws debate continues to rage

The Federal Government's plan to link its renewable energy target legislation to the emissions trading scheme has been met by mixed responses from legal experts who spoke to Lawyers Weekly.Paul…

The Federal Government's plan to link its renewable energy target legislation to the emissions trading scheme has been met by mixed responses from legal experts who spoke to Lawyers Weekly.

Paul Curnow, partner at Baker & McKenzie's global climate change practice, said Labor came to power with the election promise to legislate for a 20 per cent renewable target by 2020 and that linking the legislation may result in ongoing delays, which clients in the renewable sector do not want.

"Certainly I think there will need to be an agreement reached in the Senate to include something in there that is not linked, but obviously meets the concerns of the ETS [emissions trading scheme], so that the legislation can actually get passed, and, therefore, allow a lot of renewable energy companies and developers sitting on potential projects to actually get out there and start developing these projects," he said.

Louis Chiam, partner at Mallesons and an expert in climate change, said that while businesses want investment certainty, delays in legislation were viewed pragmatically.

"Entities, who are a large part of where the scheme is targeted, want to make sure that the scheme - whether it is the renewable energies scheme or the emissions trading scheme - is well designed and well thought through, so, from their perspective, a well designed scheme is as important as certainty," he said.

Brian Walters SC said he believed the legislation and scheme did not need to be interdependent.

"But at the moment the emissions trading scheme is so flawed that there is little point in supporting it. I think it will lock in failure," he said.

"First of all the targets are ridiculously low ... It's also paying not just millions but billions of dollars to the major polluters in circumstances where they've known for 20 years that this is coming and they should not be compensated. The dirty industries aren't being punished - they're being rewarded under this current scheme."

Walters said he believed the money would be better spent on supporting new technologies.

"We still have the huge subsidy of the coal industry being able to put CO2 into the atmosphere without any cost. So we're picking losers when we should be working to support these new industries which are crying out for some clear government policy which enables some long-term planning to occur," he said

Curnow said the original renewable energy target was met much faster than the former government led by John Howard had expected.

"Howard decided not to increase the targets, so what happened is you had a fully functioning market and you had the regulation there but there was no demand because the target wasn't increased. So [the renewable energy target] is really taking that existing framework and increasing the target up to 45 000 gigawatt hours by 2020 - which represents about 20 per cent of Australia's generating capacity," he said.

Curnow said he thought it would be interesting to see where the financing was going to come from for projects from the renewable space, such as solar, wind, geothermal and tidal.

"Banks have pulled out of that [renewable] market over a number of years because of regulatory uncertainty and are going to have to be coaxed back into that market, given their previous experience with the market dropping out when Howard didn't increase the target. And also, of course, in the current climate access to capital funds is much more difficult," he said.

"I think we will also see a lot of potential overseas interest in the Australian market as far as investment and financing goes in the renewable market, particularly if Australian banks and financiers can't meet the demand."

The Opposition and Greens are ready to move amendments so that industry assistance under the renewable energy plan is not contingent on passage of the emissions trading scheme legislation. The Greens want to stop emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries being exempted from the target.

However, Greens senator and deputy leader Christine Milne said the minor party would support the Government's RET legislation, even though it wanted a stronger target of 40 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

If the opposition decides to block the legislation, the Government will need the votes of independent senator Nick Xenophon and Family First senator Steve Fielding, as well as the Greens.

Curnow said all businesses must now wait for political wrangling over the different aspects of the legislation and targets.

"We can all sit around a crystal ball and imagine what will happen in the next few months, but, really, we are into the final throes of this process which is the pure politics of it and I guess we just have to wait and see how that plays out," he said.

- Sarah Sharples

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Energy laws debate continues to rage
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
microscope
06:04
‘Exorbitant legal fees’ under government microscope
With the growing number of class action proceedings in Australia, the government is looking at how ...
Funds, money, cash
06:00
Law Access WA receives welcome funding
Law Access Western Australia has received a grant from the state government to fund its pro bono leg...
Thomson Reuters adds to Practical Law team
06:00
Thomson Reuters adds to Practical Law team
Thomson Reuters has appointed an experienced real estate lawyer to its Practical Law Australia team....
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...