Recent wins have put Queensland on the path to becoming a renewable energy superpower.
There was a solar eclipse on Thursday 10 June. Ancient people, and not so ancient people really, have often seen eclipses as signs of change.
I’m not a very superstitious person, but on that day I definitely felt like the tide had shifted in Queensland.
I was in Townsville to attend the Queensland Future Energy Forum. The who’s who of renewables in Queensland was there: the ministers for energy, state development, environment and resources; CEOs of big renewable and energy companies; the heads of the key unions and government departments, as well as representatives of the environmental groups who have been fighting hard for renewable energy for years.
The keynote speaker, Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced a ten-year energy plan and a massive $1.5 billion for renewable energy, to help government-owned energy generators to begin the transition to clean energy. If you’re not an energy nerd, take my word for it, this is a great announcement.
The single biggest thing we can do to act on climate change is to electric everything and run it all off clean energy. To do that we need to build a lot of renewables. This $1.5 billion is in addition to half a billion promised last year. $2 billion is a lot of upfront capital for the government owned generators to start switching to clean energy.
This was on the back of some other really positive news for the planet to come out of Queensland in recent times:
Two years ago, right after the federal election that saw the Morrison Government re-elected, things were looking pretty bleak for climate action in Queensland. Labor, which went to the election with a much stronger climate plan than the other major parties, had done poorly in Queensland. And the powerful vested interests standing in the way of real action on climate change had loudly proclaimed that the result was proof that Queenslanders rejected climate action.
Although close analysis of the election results demonstrated that the election result was far more complicated and that Queenslanders really DO want climate action, it was a narrative that had a huge impact in Queensland.
In the ACF community — and the broader climate movement — we knew we faced an enormous challenge, but one we had to meet. Queensland is Australia’s most polluting state and is a huge exporter of coal and gas. Queensland also has so much to lose — the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest and wet tropics, an amazing way of life, all under threat from climate change.
We needed to turn the narrative around and get out there and tell the positive true story. As we headed into the 2020 state election, the ACF community went to work.
We told a non-partisan, positive story about the need for climate action that really cut through. We released a Queensland Renewable Jobs Report that told the story of Queensland being a renewable energy superpower.
Our allies in the climate movement told the same story — the Queensland Conservation Council, Solar Citizens, WWF and the Climate Council all put out similar reports over the period. We coordinated so the positive story was regularly in the media saying the same message over and over: Queensland could be a renewable energy superpower.
The vested interests standing in the way of climate action tried to start another culture war. But the world has shifted. We’ve seen terrible fires and are living through a pandemic. Their divisive campaign was no match for our positive vision.
So now it seems like Queensland is on the right path again, no longer holding Australia back, but catching up and in some ways leading the way.
We have a long way to go but looking back at how far we’ve come so quickly, I’m feeling optimistic.
Together we can make Queensland a world leader in climate action and nature preservation.
Header: Houghton Solar Farm, QLD. Photo: Danny Halstead/Pacific Hydro.