The Federal Government must start planning how it is going to retire the most polluting and out-dated coal plants and replace them with clean energy, the Australian Conservation Foundation concludes in a new report looking at the country’s biggest polluters.

Australia’s Top 10 Climate Polluters examines the 10 companies that are responsible for nearly one third of Australia’s greenhouse pollution. Most of this pollution is generated through their production and use of energy.

“The problem isn’t electricity, which is an essential service we all use, but the way most of our electricity is generated in Australia,” said ACF’s President Geoff Cousins.

“Some of Australia’s coal-fired power plants are highly polluting, inefficient old rust buckets that are well past their use-by dates.

“Hazelwood in Victoria and AGL’s Lidell in NSW are all more than 40 years old. In fact Hazelwood, owned by GDF Suez, was once rated the dirtiest power station in the developed world. 

“Without the carbon price Australia no longer has a market mechanism to limit pollution, so it is up to the Government to show how it will unshackle our economy from climate-changing coal and gas and allow renewable energy to reach its full potential.

“The most polluting, out-dated coal plants should be retired and replaced with clean energy – data from the Energy Supply Association shows wind and solar projects already identified could provide a quarter of Australia’s forecast electricity demand by 2023-24. 

“Instead of supporting clean energy in this country, the Abbott Government is trying to water down the renewable energy target.  This will only serve to entrench big coal, limit jobs and investment in clean alternatives and will ultimately increase electricity prices.

“A 2014 report by ACF, the Climate Institute and WWF-Australia, based on modelling by Jacobs, showed weakening the RET would benefit the owners of polluting coal power plants, at the expense of households.

“We hope this report prompts the Federal Government to start listening to the needs of all Australians, including future generations, not just to the big polluters.”

Note: We originally identified Callide A as being over 40 years old. In fact, the original Callide A generators were decomissioned more than a decade ago. However, one of the Callide A units was returned to service in recent years as part of the $245m Callide Oxyfuel Project, designed to trial the viability of carbon capture and storage technology. This demonstration project ended in March 2015.

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