Call for Common Sense Climate Policy: Economise Australian Resources and Save the Planet
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Dear Federal Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor, and the Morrison Government,
I am writing to you to raise my concerns about the Australian Government’s lack of action against the increasing change in the Earth’s climate. It is undeniable that the atmospheric presence of carbon dioxide has increased by alarming rates in the past 100 years, and one significant way to combat this is to remove our reliance on fossil fuels. Whilst current policies (such as the Renewable Energy Target) look incredibly promising for decreasing our reliance on non-renewable sources of energy, you have stated that the coalition government will not be renewing this target after 2020, in favour of lower energy prices. This is an understandable aim with the Australian public constantly demanding lower electricity prices - which are over twice as high as the cost in the United States (Bloomberg, 2017).
Although findings from the Climate Council’s RENEWABLES & BUSINESS: CUTTING PRICES & POLLUTION (2018), show that whilst non-renewable energy prices have risen incredibly - with gas prices tripling over the past five years and residential electricity prices increasing by 80% to 90% in just one decade -, price reductions primarily due to the Renewable Energy Target are projected to reduce average consumer power bills across Australia by nearly $200 over the next two years (AEMC, 2017). Furthermore, energy analysis firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance recently determined new renewable energy is now the same cost (or cheaper) than existing coal power stations in New South Wales and Queensland. BloombergNEF have also since stated that the emergence of battery storage as a source of peak power and flexible capacity means that the costs of these services will fall to levels never reached before by conventional fossil-fuel peaking plants.
As you've outlined in multiple interviews (such as with Sky News (Oct 7), ABC Radio (Nov 14)), “There is almost no other country in the world that has the credentials of Australia in reducing carbon emission… We are bringing emissions down, and we’re doing extremely well.”
Whilst it is true that Australia has had one of the steepest emission reductions over the past 10 years (Center for Global Development's Commitment to Development Index, 2018), we as a nation are still one of the largest per capita greenhouse gas emitters in the world (at approx 16 tonnes per person - International Energy Agency, 2018).
Furthermore, even mining and petroleum companies, such as Woodside, BHP and Rio Tinto, are calling to incentivise using cleaner energy, with BHP adding that disused mines could be an ideal site for placing large-scale solar, or wind projects, as well as storage. With the decreasing availability of fossil fuels into the future, it becomes an economic imperative to invest in future forms of energy generation now, while we still have a reliable source of fossil fuels as a "backup", to ideally place Australia at the forefront of this developing renewable industry. With the international shift toward renewables, which have seen “New South Wales coal export volumes having peaked and now facing a terminal long-term decline as markets transition” (New South Wales Thermal Coal Exports Face Permanent Decline, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, 2018), this is prime opportunity for Australian jobs to pave the way in renewable investment and research.Whilst it is undoubtedly important to avoid premature shutting down of coal power plants over the next couple of decades as the transition into renewable energy unravels, it is also just as important to encourage and develop the renewable market through the increase of funding into bodies such as the CSIRO to ensure that this transition can be conducted in an effective manner and the required technology is available.
For example, the CSIROs National Hydrogen Roadmap (2018) proposes Hydrogen as an alternative source of energy which can help manage the transition to a higher proportion of variable renewable electricity in the electricity network by overcoming challenges associated with energy intermittency. The report claims ”the global market for hydrogen is expected to reach USD$155 billion by 2022 (International Energy Agency Hydrogen Technology Collaboration Program 2017, Global Trends and Outlook for Hydrogen), with a number of Australia’s existing trading partners such as Japan, who are comparatively resource constrained, currently implementing policy commitments for hydrogen imports and use. Australia’s extensive natural resources, namely solar, wind, fossil fuels and available land lend favourably to the establishment of hydrogen export supply chains.” The report then predicts, that with appropriate funding, could provide cost-competitive clean hydrogen by 2025 in many applications.
Even today, with the renewable energy industry in its early stages, an estimated 5,000 megawatts of projects - almost three times Liddell Power Station's current capacity - such as wind and solar farms were under construction in 2018, creating enough jobs to employ more than 15,000 people (Green Energy Markets, 2018). With this in mind, it would seem somewhat illogical to support the further development of non-renewable industries over investing in the future of renewables, which are becoming increasing more efficient and widespreadly used every year. With increased governmental support, not only will renewables help the environment, but will also be able to benefit the Australian economy and reduce energy prices - which is what the Government has stated as their prime energy goal.
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