Today I had a meeting with GetUp regarding a range of issues. They raised issues where they are unhappy with AGL's performance, mainly coal-seam gas and AGL's GHG emissions footprint. AGL is committed to listening to our stakeholders and improving our performance over time.
A key issue we discussed was renewable energy and decarbonisation. AGL is operating Australia's largest solar facility at Nyngan, is now generating electricity at another sizable solar facility at Broken Hill and is continuing to operate the significant hydro and wind assets that in aggregate make AGL Australia's largest privately owned renewable energy operator.
Earlier in 2015, AGL released a revised GHG policy. The policy seeks to put AGL on a pathway for reducing emissions in a manner that supports the Commonwealth Government's commitment to limit emissions consistent with a 2 degree global goal. In the short-term, it will see a reduction in emissions of 7.5 million tonnes by 2022. It would be fair to say that GetUp believes that the policy does not go far enough. We will continue to engage with all our stakeholders on these issues and are committed to the transition from where we are today (fossil fuels produce around 88% of Australia's electricity to homes and businesses) to a decarbonised future. While we undertake this transition, we will also be focused on jobs in impacted industries and the essential service nature of our industry.
Importantly, I feel that AGL's position on renewable energy has not been fairly portrayed by some stakeholders. AGL supports renewable energy - evidenced by the fact that we are in the process of building some of the biggest solar plants in the southern hemisphere. However, we have said that existing renewable energy policies need complementary policy to remove the most emissions-intensive ageing power stations to create a sustainable investment environment. You can read a peer-reviewed paper (authored by me) on the topic here. However, it has a paywall so an alternative is to read this presentation I gave to the Australian Conference of Economists this year.
I have spent around 15 years working on energy and climate related issues. I was part of the team that helped design the world's first GHG trading scheme - the GGAS scheme in NSW - and have been a strong advocate of decarbonisation. You can learn more about my publications in this area at my Google Scholar profile. And I am always happy to try and help answer questions and discuss these issues through this blog or other media (e.g. Twitter - @tanelsonaus).