It’s pleasing to see some critiques in today’s media of Team Howard’s decision to water down the MRET by including so-called “clean coal” into a new “Clean Energy Target”. But, as has been pointed out, even if it can be proven to work, “clean coal” is too far away from commercialisation to make any real difference on a 2020 timeline.

A more pressing issue which hasn’t as yet been noted is the rubberiness of the figures that the PM and Mr Turnbull have been bandying about.

Yesterday’s media release suggests strongly that the 30,000 GWh target is intended as a total figure. But this would amount to only 9% of the government’s official energy demand projections of 342,000 GWh in 2019-2020 (p29).

That’s a long way off 15-20%.

Now, we could give the government the benefit of the doubt and add the original MRET baseline to the 30,000 GWh figure — on our estimates, around 16,000 GWh. But this still only adds up to 13% of projected energy demand.

The only way we can get to over 15% is by double counting the existing MRET of 9,500 GWh. It would seem extremely unlikely that the Government would continue the MRET bureaucracy through to 2020 and add an extra CET on top when the whole idea is to streamline the process.

Either the government is including in their calculations significant, and as-yet unannounced, energy efficiency measures reducing total projected demand, or they are deliberately using rubbery figures and hoping nobody examines them closely.

Calls from my office to the Minister’s office this morning have so far yielded no extra information on this vital question.

Malcolm Turnbull has done exactly what he criticised others for this morning, and presented a slogan with no substance. Meanwhile, the Greens are looking at international experience, and the urgent climate imperative, and calling for a truly ambitious, but achievable, renewables target of 15% by 2012 and 25% by 2020. The latter, depending on efficiency gains, we estimate would be in the order of 70,000 GWh.