Former Manufacturing Australia executive chairman Dick Warburton was yesterday named as the head of a panel to review the current renewable energy target for 2020.
Following the announcement, Warburton was made to deny claims he was a "climate change denier".
"What I am sceptical [about] is the claims that man-made carbon dioxide is the major cause of global warming," he was quoted as saying on ABC Radio.
"I'm not a denier of that, but I am sceptical of that claim."
Warburton was the first executive chairman of Manufacturing Australia, a lobby group formed by companies including BlueScope Steel and Boral to oppose the then Gillard government’s carbon tax. He was also the keynote speaker at Manufacturers’ Monthly’s Endeavour Awards in 2012.
Due to his opposition to the carbon tax, Warburton has been labeled a “denier” by critics, such as the Greens.
‘‘Climate denier Dick Warburton is one of the nation’s chief opponents to carbon pricing and effective global warming policy,’’ said Greens leader Christine Milne yesterday.
Warburton leads a panel including Matt Zema, formerly CEO of Verve Energy, Shirley In’t Veld, a member of the CSIRO board and an independent director at Asciano, and Brian Fisher, a former executive director of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
The group will examine the current target of having renewable energy contribute 20 per cent of energy by 2020, a projected 41,000 gigawatt hours.
“In particular, the review will consider the contribution of the RET in reducing emissions, its impact on electricity prices and energy markets, as well as its costs and benefits for the renewable energy sector, the manufacturing sector and Australian households,” said industry minister Ian Macfarlane.
The Australian Industry Group welcomed the review. CEO Innes Willox said, “Circumstances have changed markedly since the current RET target was set at 20 per cent of projected electricity demand by 2020.
"In particular, projections of demand have fallen so that the legislated target is now well in excess of the 20 per cent of projected demand."
The review will be handed to the government in the middle of the year.
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