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Amid power price hike mayhem, Bowen invokes the C-word

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Energy Minister Chris Bowen declared that Labor is sticking to its guns when it comes to climate change (Screenshot via YouTube)

Energy Minister Chris Bowen has done the unspeakable and emphasised Labor's dedication towards fixing the climate crisis, writes Sophie Vorrath.

ALL IT TOOK was one throw-away line:

“Next year, using the current market prices, tariffs are going up a minimum 35 per cent.”

So said Alinta Energy chief executive Jeff Dimery in a panel discussion on the state of the energy market at the AFR Climate and Energy Summit in Sydney on Monday.

And despite the AFR itself reporting that there was “disagreement” on this particular point from the respective bosses at Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia, Dimery’s declaration has been taken as gospel and repeated countless times across all forms of media, no doubt pushing public concern over power prices to a new high.

So it was a relief to hear Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen on ABC’s 7.30, standing his party’s ground – insufficient though it may be, in many parts, on climate – and steeled for the inevitable barrage of questions about Labor’s election promise to cut household energy bills.

In an interview with 7.30 host Sarah Ferguson, Bowen stuck doggedly to the message that “to reduce power prices, to get emissions down, actually the same levers achieve both things”.

And when asked if Dimery’s declaration had served as a reality check on the Albanese Government’s ambition for transition to renewables, Bowen did the previously unthinkable in Australian politics and invoked the C-word.

He said:

We have eight years, 86 months, between now and 2030, to get emissions down because that’s the key decade in terms of holding the world as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.


I know you’re talking about energy prices but let’s not forget about the very important international challenge of climate change.

And then:

“But at the same time, of course, getting more renewables is the best way – in fact, the only way – to provide any possibility of getting downward pressure on energy prices.”

It was, at least to this jaded reporter, a reassuring word to hear, in amongst all the talk of war, inflation, cost of living and devastating natural disaster after devastating natural disaster.

Of course, energy prices should not be where they are now in Australia and the prospect of them rising further is indeed a huge concern, particularly for the vulnerable members of our society and energy-hungry businesses.

Measures will be needed to help these people and businesses, no doubt. But now is not the time to question where Australia’s energy market is headed.

Particularly considering, as Jemma Green writes on RenewEconomy, the energy crisis is to a large extent a crisis of the existing market’s own making:

Even if the conflict in Ukraine subsides and some of the pressures on costs reduce, there is still a need to change.


There is a growing sense that a more radical re-conception of the entire system is needed.


This involves a complete re-think and indeed a reversal of everything of the old system.

And that’s just in terms of the cheap and reliable supply of energy.

But as Bowen has said – and hopefully keeps saying – how good is it that this very same energy transition will help save the planet, too?

This article by Sophie Vorrath was originally published in RenewEconomy and has been republished with permission.

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