First the good news. The Andrews Labor government has freed up the approach to climate change with bureaucrats again able to mention the phrases ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’. Prior to the 2014 election this was taboo and this simple action released them from the shackles of the Liberal Party. As if not mentioning the problem would make it go away. The barrier to wind generation, where anyone opposed to a wind farm located within 2km of a generator site could prevent the proposal going ahead was reduced to 1km by Labor. The government has also instituted numerous inquiries, token programs and public consultancies on various aspects of renewable energy, sustainability, and climate change. The best example of this was the exhaustive process that has eventually led to the permanent ban on Onshore Unconventional gas, generally known as CSG. Why it took so long to make that decision however remains a mystery.
Best science indicates that to have any hope avoiding harmful climate change and actually achieving the main aims of the Paris Agreement about to come into force we need to rapidly reduce our production of greenhouse gases. We happen to be sitting on the worst offenders – our brown coal fired generators – in Gippsland. With many locals calling for a just transition from fossil fuel fired electricity to the best methods of renewable energy the path to 100% renewables should be both clear and urgent. So far the state government (or large sections of it) does not appear to understand the threat of climate change or the need for urgent action. Whilst federally the conservatives are beyond the pale even Federal Labor appears to be somehow hoping that action to mitigate warming and coal development can somehow co-exist. Likewise the actions of the Queensland Labor government and that great white(?) elephant – Adani coal.
Elsewhere the ACT Labor (and to a lesser extent SA) government is leading the way being on track to be using 100% renewable energy by 2020. The path to 100% renewable energy can readily and quickly be achieved with strong government support. Once the science is readily accepted and understood – something that is by no means obvious in either of our mainstream political parties – then the actions are obvious. The Just Transition in both the Latrobe Valley and Victorian Forests can be commenced by pouring funds (and applying a variety of solutions) into the Latrobe valley and other depressed rural communities.