The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the establishment of a Senate inquiry to examine how best to close coal-fired power stations.
ACF’s Suzanne Harter said the amended motion passed by the Senate today shows up a massive gap in Australia’s national planning and policy on energy and climate change.
“While the environment and energy portfolios have been merged, the government continues to dodge the biggest environment and energy issue facing Australia: the need to phase out coal if we are to meet our Paris climate commitments,” Ms Harter said.
“Australia urgently needs a national plan to replace coal burning power plants with clean energy and ensure a just transition for affected workers and communities.
“The average age of Australia’s coal-fired power stations is over 30 years; 72 per cent of Australia’s coal burning power plants are operating beyond their original design lives.
“Old power stations create more pollution —which is damaging our health and climate — and their inefficiency makes them more expensive to run.
“Retiring these old power stations is as unavoidable as it is necessary.
“Without retiring the old coal-burning power plants it will be impossible for Australia to meet our Paris commitments and make the transition to clean renewable energy.
“Without a national plan the process will be disorderly and damaging for communities that presently have economies that rely on coal.”
Meanwhile a United Nations review has found Australia’s emissions are continuing to soar and several countries have asked for details about how Australia will meet its 2030 targets and raised concerns about how the government calculates and reports emissions.
The UN review found Australia’s climate pollution levels would be 11.5 per cent higher in 2020 than they were in 1990.
“Australia is not effectively tackling climate pollution,” ACF’s Suzanne Harter said.
“The biggest source of Australia’s pollution is our dirty coal-powered energy sector.
“The inquiry into how best to close down Australia’s coal-fired power stations has the potential to get to the heart of the problem.”