Clean Energy – finally, the revolution is on.

Clean Energy – finally, the revolution is on (Qld Government Information meetings).

If you haven’t been watching, the energy revolution is on – the rapid transition to renewable energy is taking off. Nothing like what it should be yet but it has started, it is picking up steam very quickly and it is unstoppable. And believe it or not, Queensland, not South Australia, and central and north Queensland within it, is leading (more on this to come in this blog space).

The Queensland Government is holding community information events next month on its policies to 1. transition to net zero emissions by 2050 and 2. adapt to the impacts of climate change. The link for registration at the Townsville event is here. The link to the two strategies is here.

The organizing questions are:

What does climate change and a low-carbon world mean for you, your business and your community?

What is the Queensland Government doing to lead our shared response?

I was fortunate to receive a related briefing from the Dept. of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) with Queensland Conservation Council and other NGOs late last month before departing for Townsville. Sadly, the public meetings will not include political decision makers, just the committed and enthusiastic DEHP public servants who finally are on about implementation of these generally progressive but still very modest policies.

I note the report last week by Australia Institute which examined the government’s own modelling of the nation’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and found Australia could either transition to a 66-75% renewable energy target by 2030 to meet its commitments, or push the responsibility on to other sectors, such as agriculture or manufacturing. Pushing it to other sectors though would be more expensive and more complex than doing it in the power sector.

The institute’s analysis showed the easiest path was to reform the energy sector, as it had “available and cost effective options” in the form of renewables to turn to, while other sectors, such as Australia’s leading export industries, agriculture and manufacturing, did not.

Sadly, the DEHP staff at the information events will not be discussing the Qld Government’s policy on coal mining, including the Adani mine. Very conveniently, this issue is neatly compartmentalized. Signatory countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Australia included, have agreed that greenhouse gas emissions are only counted in the countries where they are actually released. Being the world’s largest exporter of coal, and wanting to double this output by opening up the Galilee basin, makes no difference to Australia’s Paris climate agreement targets.

So, this amazing paradox continues. On the one hand a government committed to responding to climate change by reducing domestically to zero net emissions and adapting to the inevitable impacts of a warming world (how do we adapt to a dead reef?) and on the other publicly subsidizing the opening up of Australia’s biggest coal mine and paving the way for an additional 4 mega coal mines which will lock in 100 million tonnes of coal production per annum for 60 years.

Any savings in emissions domestically from zero emissions power generation in Qld or for that matter for all of Australia will be completely dwarfed by the increased emissions consequent on increased Australian coal (and CSG gas) being burned overseas. More importantly, this huge supply of publically subsidized cheap coal to the global market will only slow the transition to renewables globally.

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