Nov 03, 2016 - 12:50pm
With only five months before Hazelwood power station closes, the federal government’s reluctance to plan for Australia’s transition to net zero emissions is setting up more shocks for communities, energy users and the power system, The Climate Institute said today.
“When giant multinational power companies like Hazelwood’s owner Engie decide that they’re going to get out of coal, it’s irresponsible for the government to ignore the implications,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. “Forward-looking businesses are planning for a world with net zero emissions, and it’s time the government did the same.”
Engie, the world’s largest electricity company, has committed globally to exit coal generation and grow its renewable energy capacity. As the owner of two Latrobe Valley coal stations, Engie’s decisions affect the future of the region and the broader electricity system.
“This decision comes a day before the Paris Agreement becomes international law. In Paris last December Australia joined other nations in committing to limit global warming to 1.5–2°C, and achieve net zero emissions. Australia’s commitment at Paris requires the steady replacement of our coal-fired power stations with clean energy over the next 15 years, and full decarbonisation well before 2050.”
“The federal government can no longer just leave it to the power companies themselves to decide if and when to close coal stations. Nor can it keep clinging to its weak 2030 climate target made in August 2015, which is inconsistent with both Paris goals and global energy trends.”
The International Energy Agency recently reported that renewable energy capacity now outstrips coal-fired capacity and conservatively estimates show renewables will meet 60 per cent of new electricity demand over the next five years.
“The government’s reluctance to face up to the current global energy transformation is stopping us from securing the future of regional communities and building a power system that is modern, smart and clean,” said Mr Connor
“We should start investing in replacement industries in communities like the Latrobe Valley, and replacement clean energy services, well before coal stations close, not after their retirement has been announced.”
“It’s just a six months since the shock closure of South Australia’s Northern coal station, which caused great disruption to people living and working in Port Augusta. Now it’s the Latrobe Valley. Which coal station in which state will be next? We don’t know.”
“This is why we need a nationwide plan. If we plan and invest ahead of time we are better placed to cope with the challenges of the inevitable transition. Without this our communities will face much more stress, our energy system will face continued shocks and investment in clean energy will face ongoing uncertainty.”
Note: Today’s announcement by the New South Wales Government of a 2050 net zero emissions objective is further proof of the accelerating shift towards modern, smart and clean economies – see our release here.
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Brinsley Marlay ● Media Manager ● 0422 140 555 or 02 8239 6299