Mr Wilkins recently told The Australian he believed the Government should not pursue market-distorting forms of industry assistance such as the target.
But a report for WWF by consultants Climate Risk found that, without an MRET, which requires electricity providers to obtain 20 per cent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, the Government would have no hope of meeting its target to cut greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by its 2050 deadline, because the price signals to develop the necessary technologies would not be sent in time for those technologies to be commercially ready.
Climate Risk director Karl Mallon said: “Without an MRET, Australia would run a very high risk of not meeting its emissions targets because industries would leave their run too late and then they would simply not be able to get up and running in time. They wouldn’t be able to get the staff, or the investment.
“An MRET does make the emissions reduction task more expensive, but without it we can’t meet the deadline.”
Dr Mallon said the Government also needed to enhance its MRET scheme by keeping aside some of the permits for later-developing technologies such as geothermal, rather than allowing all the permits to be issued to cheaper wind power providers in the early years, as wind power would only ever supply a proportion of Australia’s energy needs.
Mr Hunt said the Coalition agreed with this view, but believed the renewable energy target should include so-called clean coal technologies.
“There is strong support within the Coalition for a 20 per cent target, but inclusive of carbon capture and storage,” he said.
The Productivity Commission said an MRET operating in conjunction with an emissions trading scheme would not encourage any additional greenhouse abatement, but would impose significant additional costs.