Our nature movement has a long history of saying no. No to damming the Franklin River. No to paving Toondah Harbour's wetlands. No to dumping an oil rig in Ningaloo Reef.

But we’re now at a critical point where the future of the communities, nature and people we love depends on us saying yes to some things, like well-located and assessed solar panels and wind farms to power our lives with renewable energy.

The alternative, burning more coal and gas which fuels climate devastation, is the gravest threat to our oceans, forests, plants and animals. 

We face an urgent threat that demands an urgent solution. Coal and gas pollution is warming our atmosphere, acidifying our oceans and fuelling extreme weather events that wipe out habitats and push threatened species to the brink.

  • The 2019-2020 Black Summer fires are estimated to have killed or displaced three billion Australian animals
  • In the wake of tropical Cyclone Jasper, thousands of reef fish, plus tropical birds, wallabies, echidnas and other animals washed up dead on Far North Queensland beaches.
  • Warmer temperatures mean less ice cover and food for Humpback and Blue pygmy whales when they migrate to Antarctica in the summer, and uncomfortably hot breeding grounds when they move to Australia's tropical waters in the winter. 

Ramping up wind and solar solutions in our communities is needed for phasing out coal and gas and protecting the wildlife and places we love from climate devastation. 

It's not an easy task. The transition to renewables must be fast to limit climate destruction and done without destroying nature

We must hold governments and developers accountable for identifying and addressing local nature impacts. That way we can all have confidence that renewable energy is protecting nature. After all, that's the reason for going renewable. 

Our broken nature laws have meant large-scale development has gone unchecked for decades. Bulldozers have torn down forests and bush, pushing many species closer to extinction. Some wind and solar farms are being proposed in places they shouldn't, but there's no need for more bulldozing on this over-cleared continent.

Building on already disturbed ecosystems, close to cities and regional industrial precincts should be prioritised. The Calliope Solar Farm in Central Queensland will be Australia's biggest solar farm and is being built on existing agricultural land. Once completed, it will generate enough energy to power 300,000 homes.

Every renewable project must pass thorough environmental assessments and mapping.

Saying no is often the correct response to new developments – we’ve said no to many that our communities didn't need! There are many new, nature-wrecking proposals we must oppose, like Woodside's Burrup Hub gas expansion. 

But we must also consider saying yes to well-located renewable energy that will benefit nature.

 

Australian Conservation Foundation