Climate groups campaign for 100% renewables

Ballarat 100% renewables campaigner May 11. Photo: 100% Renewables/Flickr

The Rudd ALP government was elected on a promise to take serious action on climate change. Yet it hasn’t acted and Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions — already the developed world’s worst per person — are on the rise again.

In late May, the Department of Climate Change announced emissions had risen in the December 2009 quarter, rebounding from a dip caused by the global economic crisis. Most of the rise came from the energy sector, said the May 28 Sydney Morning Herald.

The department’s figures for the rise (1.3% in seasonally adjusted terms) likely understate the problem: emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry weren’t included.

But the global warming policy vacuum of the two big parties hasn’t fazed dozens of climate action groups around the country, who launched a national 100% renewables campaign on May 2.

The campaign’s message is simple: an urgent transition to 100% renewable energy is possible and making the switch will create new, job-rich industries and help secure a safe climate for future generations.

The goal of the campaign is to build a groundswell of community support to pressure politicians to act.
Support for the campaign is building. Dozens of climate action groups are taking part nationwide.

A May 5 article in the Australian indicated the campaign had already spooked at least five ALP MPs. The MPs said they felt “vulnerable” after they were “bombarded by outraged younger voters in their electorates” because of the party’s climate policy.

The next stage in the campaign begins on June 5 — World Environment Day. Throughout June, climate action groups will conduct a nationwide community survey to gather information about community support for renewable energy and encourage more people to get involved in the campaign.

The results will then be published to show the level of community support for a clean energy transition.
As a first step towards the transition, the 100% renewables campaign calls for the federal government to agree to a national clean energy bonus scheme, or feed-in tariff.

They say a clean energy bonus could help spur investment in large-scale renewable energy projects (such as wind, solar thermal, wave and geothermal power plants) while also making community wind and solar projects, and rooftop solar photovoltaic cells, more affordable.

At the same time, the campaign wants government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry to be redirected to renewable energy infrastructure.

Winning a clean energy bonus is the first goal, but climate activists say many other measures will be needed to re-power Australia with 100% renewable energy.

The campaign offers a further 10 steps as part of its “Roadmap to 100% renewable energy”. These include a doubling of the government’s mandatory renewable energy target and a national moratorium on new coal power plants.

The campaign also supports an increase in public investment in renewable energy, a “green overhaul” of commercial and residential buildings, greater funding and tax concessions for renewable energy research and a strong carbon levy on polluters.

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