Despite years of warnings about an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events fuelled by climate change, Australia remains underprepared for events like yesterday’s storm in South Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.  

Cyclonic winds and 80,000 lightning strikes hit the state yesterday afternoon, damaging key infrastructure and causing a statewide electricity blackout.

Some have been quick to blame the state’s renewable energy for the power outage.

“A massive storm took down essential power infrastructure, ripping electrical towers right out of the ground — the blackout had nothing to do with South Australia’s renewable energy,” said ACF’s campaigns director Paul Sinclair.

“If South Australia was powered entirely by coal, rather than by 40 per cent clean renewable energy, as it is, this blackout would still have happened.

“In fact, at the time of the outage, wind power was pumping out nearly 1000MW—it was working.

“The problem isn’t renewable energy — it’s coal. 

“Australia’s reliance on coal for electricity is fuelling climate change, which means more extreme heat, more flooding and more storms as the atmosphere warms.

“The Federal Government should respond by leading the establishment of a national plan to coordinate climate resilience and adaptation in critical national infrastructure.

“And December’s COAG energy ministers’ meeting should agree to establish a national plan within the next 12 months to coordinate the transition to clean, renewable energy and away from coal.

“The Federal Government has been slow to adapt to the challenges of climate change and Australia remains woefully underprepared for the forecast increase in extreme weather.  It’s now time to catch up.”

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Tom Arup on 0402 482 910, tom.arup@acf.org.au; or Toby Halligan on 0419 403 016, toby.halligan@acf.org.au For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email action@acf.org.au.