Australia wants renewables

Stop the Dinosaurs (The Climate Institute)

The Climate Institute’s latest Climate of the Nation survey is out today, and it unsurprisingly finds that not only are Australians increasingly and overwhelmingly supportive of climate action and renewable energy, they are deeply unhappy with the Abbott Government’s performance on both.

70 per cent of the 1,145 Australians sampled by TCI accept the science of climate change, 89 per cent say the impacts are already visible in Australia, and more people back carbon pricing than oppose it (34 per cent vs 22 per cent). A further 72 per cent want to keep or expand the Renewable Energy Target (RET). All these numbers are growing compared to previous COTN surveys, and reflect other studies showing similarly high levels of support for renewables and climate action.

Which is, if you are a government trying to “reboot” a mining boom, all completely irrelevant, of course. It twists the story, it puts facts in the story.

The survey is yet another blow to the Government’s claimed “mandate” to repeal the carbon pricing laws – a card which Environment Minister Greg Hunt tried valiantly to play on ABC radio this morning; as did Senator Eric Abetz when the Government’s arguments to de-list Tasmanian forests from World Heritage status was utterly dismantled on Sunrise. It’s a hollow strategy really, as everyone knows oppositions don’t win government, government’s lose office.

The Government has a right to try to implement its policies (however evasively articulated pre-election), but it has to bring the electorate along with it. It has utterly failed on this front so far.

“From 2010 to 2012, Australians were subject to a historic scare campaign about the impacts of the carbon laws, but it is quite clear now that these laws are not a ‘wrecking ball’ or ‘python squeeze’. Since the carbon laws were enacted, Australia’s pollution has been reduced by millions of tonnes and the economy has grown. Average households are not worse off as many feared they could be.” Former Liberal Party Leader Dr John Hewson.

Its misguided attacks on renewable energy are just one of many examples of how disconnected it is from reality, and one that is helping “The Dirty Three” fight dirty to protect profits.

Coal is the lens through which the ideological vision for Australia’s future is being viewed, and the Age of Entitlement is alive and well for those with the biggest shovels. This cannot, and will not last, as market realities are clearly demonstrating that the coal cannonball is already past its peak. Australia won’t have the luxury of being “selfish”, to go backwards and not cooperatively address climate change. The climate imperative is not optional. It’s the “new housing bubble”, according to US Republican Hank Paulson, who says the same mistakes are being made with climate change now that were made in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. Australia’s backward steps do nothing but increase risk.

The insurance industry gets that climate risks cannot go unchecked, as do 97 per cent of climate scientists, and the rest of the world by large.

Along with energy efficiency, renewable energy offers some of the fastest and largest emissions reductions, and fortunately, it is all but unstoppable already. Renewable generation is now at 22 per cent globally, and this figure is only going to increase as coal is abandoned for clean energy solutions. Protection of renewable energy will not only remain Australia’s best chance of keeping downward pressure on its carbon emissions, but will also safeguard future prosperity as the “brown fat underbelly” industries inevitably give way to a clean, renewable future. After all:

“Solar and renewables are the good guys and we are pretty sure they will be the winners in the long run.” UBS utilities analyst David Leitch.

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