renewables

In recent weeks the coal lobby has launched a renewed propaganda offensive, including Pauline Hansen offering support for Coalition tax legislation in exchange for a new coal-fired power station in North Queensland and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott calling for government funding for new coal-fired power stations. 

Who would you rather vote for in a state election?

A candidate from a leafy-suburbs party that has not been able to quell its factional squabbling for long enough to win office since before the turn of the century? Or a know-nothing roped in a few weeks earlier to stand on behalf of a political opportunist, who bases his appeal on childish stunts?

In the three months to June, Australia's greenhouse gas emissions reached a record level, with the annual emissions on track to surpass the previous peak in 2009, according to the latest National Energy Emissions Audit published by The Australia Institute.

There is no genuine reason why Australia cannot have 100% renewable electricity in less than a decade, at sharply reduced prices.

In May a vice-president of Sempra Energy, one of the largest utility firms in the US, caused a stir by stating flatly that there was no longer any technical obstacle to powering California with 100% renewables.

“How can Shadow Minister for Renewables David Southwick continue to hold his title while opposing investment in wind and solar?” asked Friends of the Earth renewables campaigner Pat Simons after the Victorian Liberals declared they would abolish the state renewable energy target if elected.

Protesters gathered outside his Caulfield offices on February 14 with a banner reading “Shadow Minister against renewables” and also outside state Opposition leader Matthew Guy's office in Bulleen. 

With the Paris climate talks just around the corner it is timely to consider what effective policies to cut emissions might look like. Nationalisation and direct public investment are key policies that have historically been “bread and butter” political demands both for socialists and for the more radical voices within social democratic parties.

Climate activists from the Greens and Labor Environment Action Network should revisit these ideas, as they are a useful alternative to the dead end that is carbon trading.

Direct public investment

The federal government wants to allow burning native forest waste to qualify for renewable energy subsidies under the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

They reached a compromise with Labor early this month for a renewable energy target of 33 gigawatt hours (GWh).

However, negotiations have since broken down due to the federal government’s fine print inclusion of burning native forest biomass in furnaces and the retention of two-yearly reviews of the RET.

Sean Brocklehurst is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale and Sarah Hathway is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Geelong in the Victorian elections on November 29. They released this statement on November 16.

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Climate change is already killing hundreds of people in extreme heatwaves each year in Australia.

Australia’s dependence on fossil fuels and road transport are big contributors. More than 1000 Australians die each year from air pollution, mainly from fossil fuels. We need a rapid shift to renewable energy.

Victoria: Big coal state

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