We know coal power isn’t sustainable
- Australia has only enough coal to last us another 43-90 years.
- Pollution killed 7 million people in 2012.
And we know we don’t need it
- We could already power all of Western Australia with renewable energy (for less than the cost of powering it with fossil fuels).
- A 50 square km solar farm would meet all of Australia’s energy needs (pages 8-9).
- Based on the figures cited in this proposed solar farm in the Sahara, Australia could switch to entirely solar power with an investment of approximately $150 billion. (To put this in perspective, we give big polluters $10 billion per year in tax concessions. and we give mostly foreign companies $5 billion dollars per year to detain innocent asylum seekers.)
- The UN says reducing emissions to an acceptable level would reduce the world’s annualized economic growth rate by just .06 of a percent.
- Indeed, a report by Schneider Electric found that extending or expanding Australia’s renewable energy target would lead to lower electricity prices, lower carbon emissions and increased competition.
Yet Abbott is determined to undermine the renewables industry
Abbott wants to cut $435m from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which was established by the previous Government, to make renewable energy solutions more affordable and to increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia.
He also wants to cut our renewable energy target (RET), despite recommendations to retain it from the very body set up to review the target, the Climate Change Authority (CCA). In its 2012 report, the CCA rejected appeals to reduce the target, noting that such a move would not save consumers money, and would only serve to protect the revenues of the coal industry.
Now Abbott’s trying to scrap the CCA! (That’s what you do when an independent body reports findings you don’t like, isn’t it?) And because he didn’t like the findings of the first report, he’s commissioned a second. But this time, he’s appointed an outspoken climate-change denier to head it. The other members of the panel will be Matt Zema, the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Shirley In’t Veld, the former head of WA government owned generation company Verve Energy, and Brian Fisher, the former long-term head of ABARE who gained notoriety for his positions on climate policies and is a noted free-market hardliner.
Meanwhile, he’s pouring money into the mining industry
The mining industry receives $10b in tax concessions every year.
Why aren’t voters asking why?
There’s no denying coal mining is a huge part of Australia’s export income. But it clearly can’t last forever. A smart government would be investing in alternatives now, not cutting back on that investment. The whole world will need renewable technologies; let’s invent them and export them!
Obviously the coal mining industry is a big employer too. It directly employs around 40,000 people in Australia. But we can safely assume that an entirely new industry (renewables) – proactively built from scratch to power our country and provide export income – will employ a lot of people too.
So why aren’t we doing it?