Students call for 100% renewable energy

A May 3 student protest at the entrance to the University of Wollongong called for 100% renewable energy on campus. Photo: Jess

On May 3, students protested at the entrance to the University of Wollongong to call for 100% renewable energy on campus. The action was a part of nationwide events calling for renewable energy across Australia.

More than 2000 students have signed a petition calling upon the university to increase its purchase of renewable energy from the current 15% to 50% by the end of 2010, and then to 100% by the end of 2015.

Environment Collective member Jess Moore said: “The science tells us that we have a decade to transition away from carbon intensive practices. Australia faces a choice: to continue with business as usual or make the changes needed for a safe climate future.”

Moore. who is also Resistance national coordinator, said: “It would cost about 3.5% of Australia’s gross domestic product to switch to 100% renewable energy. And solar and wind power will be much cheaper in the long-run. When compared with Australia's estimated public debt for 2009 (18.6% of GDP) it becomes clear the lack of serious action on climate change is not primarily a financial issue.

“The renewable energy technology that is commercially available right now can supply baseload. So the problem we face is not financial or about technology, it’s political.”

Undergraduate Students’ Association environment representative, Patrick Harrison, said: “The university constantly claims to be all about its’ students, and to be a ‘student-centred’ university that puts our interests first. But despite an overwhelming response from students in a short space of time, they’ve completely ignored us and shown the opposite to be the case.

“Wollongong university should be leading the way in the use of renewable energy. Climate change has already meant rising sea levels, destroyed ecosystems and caused an increase in climate catastrophes. Australia is one of the worst emitters per person in the world.

“Institutions like universities have the research capacity to lead the way in making the changes the planet needs. However, currently Wollongong university researchers are developing new technologies to win defence contracts through the Defence Materials Technology Centre. A change in priorities is needed.

“As the biggest employer in the Illawarra and one of the biggest users of electricity, the university could to make an enormous contribution to the transition to a sustainable economy based on renewable energy and green jobs.”