Generating electricity using renewable energy is now cheaper than using fossil fuels, but mining companies, banks and governments in Australia continue to invest significantly more in coal, oil and gas than wind and solar.
With the passage of the Climate Change Act (CCA) that mandates a target of zero net emissions by 2050, Victoria is formally in the leadership among state and federal governments.
The “clean coal” power generator being promoted by the federal government comes from a 2009 proposal by Clive Palmer to provide electricity to Galilee Basin coalmines planned by Palmer, Gina Rinehart and Adani.
Palmer’s Waratah Coal applied to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation on February 24 to finance a 900MW coal generator that proposes to use an unproven technology: carbon capture and storage.
The plan is to bury the emissions from the coal plant in the Galilee Basin, “sequestered” in an “un-mineable” area of coal seams one kilometre underground.
"We will do everything we can to make sure Westpac decides they won't fund the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and the Adani coal mine," Amy Gordon, from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), told a crowd of about 200 outside the head office of Westpac Bank on February 20. The rallies were organised by the AYCC and 350.org.
The first few weeks of the Donald Trump administration have been extraordinary, and quite frightening — not just because of the incompetence of a president who appears to be little more than a self-obsessed idiot, but also by the actions of the dangerous ideologues at the helm of the world’s biggest economy and military power.
Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison pulled out a lump of coal in parliament on February 9 and launched a rant in which he accused the opposition of “coal-o-phobia” and regurgitated PM Malcolm Turnbull's outrageous National Press Club speech urging more coal-fired power stations be built.
Morrison went wild while behind him other Liberals and Nationals joined in a pantomime by passing the lump of coal to each other.
Right-wing politicians have blown hard on the anti-renewables dog-whistle since February 8, when extreme temperatures in South Australia were followed by rolling electricity blackouts.
Late that afternoon, power demand in the state spiked to near-record levels. From about 6pm, 100 megawatts — roughly 3% of the state’s total demand — was shed for about half an hour.
“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.
The New South Wales state government has released changes to the state’s planning law which, if passed, will grant big mining companies more power and reduce communities and councils’ already limited rights of appeal.
The government says the changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act) 1979, released on January 9, are primarily about promoting “confidence” in the state’s planning system.
Speculation is increasing that the federal government will lend mining giant Adani half the $2.2 billion cost of a rail line to take coal from the proposed Carmichael coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point coal terminal.
The money is likely to come from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. The $5 billion infrastructure fund has granted preliminary approval for the subsidy.