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Are premiers and business ignoring the boom?

With the New South Wales state government today calling on the Federal Government to abandon its renewable energy targets, Australia faces a growing coalition of State Governments bowing to the interests of big polluters at the expense of the national interest.

“State Governments should remain focused on state issues, rather than using important meetings like COAG to push a petty pro-pollution agenda,” said Tony Mohr, climate change program manager with the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).

Yesterday’s report from the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Industry Group is yet another instance of lobby groups attempting to pressure governments into acting against the environment’s – and the economy’s – best interests.

“With COAG around the corner, this is yet another naked grab for profits, aiming to improve their bottom line by undercutting crucial environmental measures, rather than contributing to the economy,” said Mr Mohr.

Yet it raises the question of why they are campaigning against one of the world’s biggest booms – the explosion in investment in clean energy.

“The real question is why are State Governments listening to these calls, when it means ignoring one of the biggest booms in the world?

“Renewable energy is that rare bright spot in a gloomy global economy, and interest groups seem intent on encouraging Australia’s governments to ignore it in favour of the interests of big polluters,” Mr Mohr said.

“Last year alone, $260 billion was invested in clean energy – that’s growth of over 400% in less than a decade – while China has announced plans to spend another $460 billion in the next five years. This is the real global boom, and the actions of these groups suggest they’re intent on keeping Australia out of it.

“COAG can’t change the Federal Government’s renewable energy targets, and can’t alter the price on pollution. This is simply an effort to apply pressure and get a better regulatory deal,” Mr Mohr said.

“We need to ask our premiers whether they are looking to make Australia a leader in this boom, or if they’re content to bow to the interests of big polluters and let it pass us by.”