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Australia state unveils $23 billion energy roadmap in renewables push

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) state said on Monday it would shift toward renewable energy from coal and aimed to lure A$32 billion ($23.3 billion) of private investment into the sector in the next decade.

Australia’s most populous state said it would cut red tape and speed up approvals for businesses to invest in renewable energy projects, with four of its five coal-fired power plants expected to close in the next 15 years.

The plans would create close to 10,000 jobs and aimed to bring 12 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar power and 2 GW of storage, such as pumped hydro, online by 2030, state Energy Minister Matt Kean said in a statement.

The opposition Labor Party said it would support the plans although they came “after a decade of delay”.

Most Australian states support greater use of renewable energy but the federal government has refused to match other developed countries in setting a target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Instead, Canberra says zero emissions will be reached some time after 2050.

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Australia is so far well short of meeting its Paris accord target of cutting carbon emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2030.

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden could encourage Australia to meet its emissions targets, the Australian Industry Group said, as he has said his administration will rejoin the Paris climate deal and aim to achieve zero emissions by 2050.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Biden’s election would not change Australia’s climate policies.

“Australia will always set its policies based on Australia’s national interests,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

($1 = 1.3721 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Stephen Coates

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