Federal government policies are making it harder for the electricity sector to swiftly transition to clean energy, according to the Australian Conservation Foundation, which today released a report on Australia’s 10 biggest climate polluters.
The report, which is based on the latest National Greenhouse & Energy Reporting Scheme data, shows that despite AGL’s stated ambitions to get out of coal and invest heavily in renewables, the company is at number 1 on the list of the country’s worst climate polluters.
EnergyAustralia is number 2 on the list, followed by GDF Suez (the owner of the Hazelwood and Loy Yang B power stations in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley) and mining giant Rio Tinto.
“If you listen to the federal government you’d be forgiven for thinking Australia’s pollution levels were decreasing, when in fact Australia’s pollution increased by 1.3 per cent in 2014-15 – that’s 7,200,000 additional tonnes of planet warming pollution pumped into our skies in just one year,” said ACF President Geoff Cousins.
“All but two of these 10 companies polluted more in the last year than in the previous one.
“The federal government says it is meeting its climate targets, but there is clearly something wrong with those targets if they can be met while pollution is rising.
“While the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund gives taxpayers’ money to Wesfarmers, the owner of Coles, Kmart and Bunnings, to install efficient lighting, the big polluters continue to pollute freely.
“Australia’s energy sector is crying out for federal government leadership to help the industry make the transition to a zero-pollution future.”
AGL’s chief executive has called on the federal government to develop a policy to remove “older, less efficient” power stations from the nation’s energy mix.
“I’ve spoken with representatives of electricity retailers, super funds, financial services companies and investors and they all agree the early closure of coal-fired power stations is inevitable and the federal government must manage this transition,” Mr Cousins said.
“ACF urges the federal government to close Australia’s coal fired power stations in phases, starting with the dirtiest plants, help affected communities with the transition and draw up comprehensive plans to clean up and rehabilitate old mine sites and power stations.”