Energy shift plans up to states: Turnbull

·2-min read

Malcolm Turnbull has put the onus on state governments to plan for Australia's energy future as the system shifts to renewables because of climate change.

The former Liberal prime minister has become outspoken on climate action since being booted from the top job due to clashes over energy policy within his own party.

"To those who say, 'Why didn't you sort this out when you were prime minister?' - this is absolutely state government responsibility," Mr Turnbull told an online event on Tuesday.

"The federal government's levers in this area are very tiny, if existent at all."

Mr Turnbull was recently picked to lead a climate advisory board in NSW, but dumped after a media campaign questioning his suitability because he backs a moratorium on new coal mines.

"It's difficult to imagine an industry that does more damage to the environment than open-cut coal mining. It literally digs the whole environment up," he said.

Mr Turnbull pointed to the NSW Upper Hunter by-election, where the state government is spruiking the coal industry.

The former Liberal leader said the industry was putting at risk other local businesses like farms, thoroughbred horse racing and wineries.

"An industry that is on the way out, that is threatened by decline in coal demand ... is putting at risk industries, and industries that will be with us forever," he said.

"It is a shocking abdication of responsibility. And the problem is there is no plan."

The issue was no longer one of engineering and economics, but one of ideology and identity.

"On the right of politics, coal has become fetishised," Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Turnbull pointed to politics when asked why the federal government was looking to subsidise an expansion of the gas industry.

"I've got to assume it's largely political, in order to be seen to be supporting fossil fuels of one kind or another," he said.

"There is a massive risk in subsiding gas infrastructure right now because it is likely to have a relatively short life. You're just going to end up with a bunch of stranded assets.

"It's very very dangerous ... are we really going to be burning gas at higher levels than we are today in 10 years' time? I don't think so."