The call for a national plan to manage Australia’s transition to clean energy just got louder with the interim report of a Senate inquiry recommending a comprehensive plan, a mechanism for the closure of Australia’s coal-fired power stations and a body to help affected communities through the changes.
The Senate committee’s recommendations echo the chorus of companies and industry bodies that are calling for a national energy transition plan. They include AGL, Origin, EnergyAustralia, the ACTU, the Clean Energy Council, the Leadership Forum on Energy Transition and the Australian Energy Council.
“Closing Australia’s outdated coal-burning power plants is central to our international commitment to keep global warming below 2°C and ideally below 1.5°,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s climate campaigner Suzanne Harter.
“Any warming over 1.5° presents a very grave threat to the future of the Great Barrier Reef and many other much loved Australian places.
“This committee’s recommendations – a coal retirement plan, a national energy transition authority and assistance for affected communities – are exactly what Australia urgently needs.
“This task cannot be left to the market alone. Closures that are not well planned, such as has happened at Port Augusta and will happen at Hazelwood in the Latrobe Valley next year, can have a damaging impact on communities.
“The flip side of coal closure is the great opportunities that accompany the growth of renewable energy.
“Replacing coal opens the door to greater renewable energy investment – which needs government support, planning and good durable policy so investors have certainty.
“It is not a matter of if dirty coal will need to be replaced, but when and how.
“With every month we delay tens of millions of tonnes of climate pollution spew into the atmosphere (534 million tonnes in 2015) and Australia misses out on new investment in clean renewable energy,” she said.