SYDNEY - Australian lawmakers on Friday ended an 18-month deadlock and agreed how much renewable energy the country should use by 2020, local media reported, but stopped short of a final deal because they remain at odds over what counts as renewable energy.
The in-principle agreement on the new terms of the 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target (RET), though not yet final, signals the end of a stand-off that has seen investment in Australia's renewable energy sector collapse by some 90 per cent.
Talks between the conservative government and centre-left opposition broke down in 2014 because the government wanted to cut the target in line with declining energy use, while the opposition wanted to keep it at a fixed amount - 41,000 gigawatt hours per year - which was based on projections made in 2007.
Changes to the RET require both major parties to agree, since renewable energy companies rely on knowing the target will remain if there is a change of government.
The parties agreed on Friday to a target of 33,000 gigawatt hours a year of renewable energy, local media reported.
The opposition, however, did not agree to include energy created by burning native forests in that target, reports said. "We have the basis to proceed and so my hope and expectation is that the renewable energy target issue will be resolved,"Environment Minister Greg Hunt told a media conference in Melbourne.
A spokeswoman for opposition environment minister Mark Butler was not immediately available for comment.