Battling on after supposedly ending the climate wars

Australia's energy "superpower plan" is the nation's best asset in the race to curb global warming and cut power bills, federal Labor has reminded critics.

In his first speech to the Lowy Institute as Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen positioned the nation as a climate leader.

He said the target of 82 per cent renewables in Australia's energy mix by 2030 – up from around one third when federal Labor took office - is no small challenge. 

"And despite what some detractors say, it's actually in line with like-minded countries, and with global world trends," Mr Bowen said.

"But it doesn't stop with 82 per cent, which is why we are developing our sectoral plans to set us on the journey to net zero emissions."

He said a clean energy grid is also critical for domestic energy security and cheaper power, with Australian households saving up to 57 per cent on their energy bills if they have rooftop solar installed.

Ahead of a milestone climate summit that kicks off in Dubai next week, he said an abundance of renewable energy also provides Australia with a strategic advantage.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen
Mr Bowen said Australia's power plan was its best asset in the competition for global supplies.

"There’s no geopolitical crisis that can stop the sun shining or the wind blowing," he said.

A reliable electricity grid also needs robust storage, transmission and sovereign manufacturing of key components.

"We are competing for finite resources in a tight global supply chain – whether it’s wind turbine components or electrolysers," he said.

"Ultimately, we are also competing for global capital, and our superpower plan is our best asset in this race."

But with nations set to assess progress since 2015 on limiting global warming to 1.5C, the United Nations has warned the world is instead heading for a "hellish" 3C this century.

Mr Bowen pledged to turn Australia's climate stance from "an international embarrassment" under successive coalition governments into "a means of international engagement".

He said the Indo-Pacific counts for more than half of the world's energy consumption and emissions and the region is confronting the very real impacts of climate change.

"Being back at the table enables us to advocate for and advance our region's interests," he said.

But he is yet to commit to the UN's call to set a new goal at COP28 in Dubai of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 and set a deadline for phasing out fossil fuels.

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