Australia’s Queensland legislates emissions targets

  • : Coal, Electricity, Emissions
  • 24/04/18

Australia's Queensland state today approved two separate laws setting renewable energy and emissions reduction targets over the next decade, as it transitions away from a coal-fired dependent power generation system.

Queensland set net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets of 30pc below 2005 levels by 2030, 75pc by 2035 and zero by 2050 under the Clean Economy Jobs Act, while theEnergy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Act sets renewable energy targets of 50pc by 2030, 70pc by 2032 and 80pc by 2035.

The state is on track to surpass the 2030 emissions target, latest data show, as it achieved a 29pc reduction in 2021. Even though the share of renewables in the power mix last year was the lowest across Australia at 26.9pc, it has been increasing consistently since 2015 when it was 4.5pc, according to data from the National Electricity Market's OpenNem website. Coal-fired generation has been steadily falling, down to 42.9TWh or a 65.7pc share in 2023 from 52.9TWh or 83pc in 2018.

Most of Queensland's coal-fired plants belong to state-owned utilities, which the previous Labor party-led government of Annastacia Palaszczuk indicated would stop burning coal by 2035. The new Labor party premier Steven Miles disclosed the 75pc emissions reduction target by 2035 in his first speech as leader last December.

The Energy Act locks in public ownership of electricity assets, ensuring that at least 54pc of power generation assets above 30MW remain under state control, as well as 100pc of all transmission and distribution assets and 100pc of so-called "deep storage" assets — pumped hydro plants with at least 1.5GW of capacity. The government will need to prepare and publish a public ownership strategy for the July 2025-June 2030 and July 2030-June 2035 periods.

A fund totalling A$150mn ($97mn) will also be set up to ensure workers at existing state-owned coal-fired power plants and associated coal mines have access to new jobs and training or financial assistance during the transition.

The Clean Economy Jobs Act sees the government receiving advice from an expert panel on the measures needed to reduce emissions. The government will need to develop and publish sector plans by the end of 2025 with annual progress reports to Queensland's parliament.

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