A World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-commissioned poll earlier this month found that about 89 per cent of Australians support maintaining or increasing the current goals of the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET). The target, which has been the subject of much controversy and debate in recent months, currently specifies that the country must produce 41,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy per year by 2020.

RET controversy in 2014

In recent months, the Abbott government and the opposing Labor Party have been in talks about the future of the RET. While some federal government policymakers have cited the target of 41,000 gigawatt hours as unrealistic and economically problematic, others maintain that keeping or even increasing the RET is beneficial for the future of the country’s energy policy.

“Cutting the RET makes no sense. It will see Australia’s carbon pollution go up, sustainable energy jobs lost and investment shut out. It’s also out of line with public sentiment which is clearly in favour of supporting growth in Australia’s renewable energy sector, including wind and solar,” WWF spokeswoman Kellie Caught told The Guardian on December 2.

WWF poll reveals RET support among voters

The recent poll commissioned by the WWF has shed some light on the opinions of Australian voters. Residents clearly want to see investments in renewable energy technologies such as evacuated tube solar, wind power and solar panels. Not only do the majority (89 per cent) of them favour maintaining the current target or even increasing it, they also plan to put their votes behind the issue.

About 64 per cent of respondents said that would consider shifting their vote in order to support renewable energy policies, and 62 per cent were “more likely to vote for a party that supports keeping or increasing the current Renewable Energy Target”, according to Energy Matters.

An important time for renewables

Australia’s debate over the RET comes at an interesting time. At a recent climate conference in Peru, 195 countries agreed upon what has been dubbed the Lima Accord. This agreement designates that over a period of six months, all countries must develop concrete plans to significantly reduce emissions between now and the year 2020. Australia won’t be exempt from this requirement, and the RET is a good opportunity for the country to show that it is serious about tackling climate change and investing in renewable technologies.

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