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Federal, state Libs split over climate

Keeping the energy grid online over summer is the federal government’s main concern but the NSW Liberals also want the coalition to end the “climate wars”.

NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin urged his federal counterparts to start reducing emissions, ahead of a meeting with his colleagues from across Australia.

But Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio says the federal coalition is “beyond hope” on the issue and that NSW’s call has come too late.

“I know all of us here are united in making sure we have secure, reliable electricity in the coming years,” federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said at the Council of Australian Governments energy ministers meeting in Adelaide on Wednesday.

The ministers are talking about the final form of the retailer reliability obligation, which will require companies to ensure community power needs are met.

“We’ll also be discussing AEMO’s outlook for the upcoming summer. This is very important to make sure the grid is prepared for that peak summer demand,” Mr Taylor said.

But in an opinion piece published in The Australian Financial Review, Mr Harwin said the federal Liberal-National coalition is out of touch on energy and climate policy.

“We recognise that climate change is a scientific fact,” Mr Hawin wrote.

“It is the responsibility of all governments to address greenhouse gas emissions into the future.

“We need to end the climate wars and put science, economics and engineering ahead of ideology.”

The Liberal-Nationals NSW government announced a target in 2016 to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Mr Harwin said he would push for the Energy Security Board to provide policy options to ministers to achieve that vision.

Ms D’Ambrosio is not at the meeting but she expects the federal government will uphold its poor performance on the issue.

“We could possibly say they’re beyond hope. They have still no plan, still no policy, on energy and climate change,” she told reporters in Melbourne.

The discussion come after the federal government dumped its flagship energy policy – the National Energy Guarantee – in August.

It was aimed at dealing with energy prices, reliability and emissions, but conservatives in the coalition took issue with its emissions targets, with their distaste contributing to Malcolm Turnbull’s downfall.

Mr Harwin said the government may have abandoned the policy but it must still “confront the facts”.

“The market and industry is looking for certainty on emissions, and policy uncertainty will lead to higher wholesale prices and delayed investment decisions,” he said.

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