With the absence of coherent climate change policy from the Abbott government, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT are picking up the gauntlet.
Unlike Abbott, these states can see the economic benefit of investing in the future. Renewable energy and other emerging technologies are part of the future, offering jobs and growth in a new economy.
The Victorian government is taking a long-term view by releasing its Renewable Energy Roadmap, which commits the state to ensuring a minimum of 20 per cent of the power generated in the state comes from renewable sources by 2020. The government is ramping up its efforts to secure more permanent jobs and build a broader economy which will not be so reliant on its vast coal resources, and their foresight should be applauded. They have made a commitment to reverse some of the legislative planning restrictions placed on wind farms and will investigate any other barriers to the installation of rooftop solar. They have also made a modest increase to the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target, which also adds impetus to the overarching policy intent.
Not to be outdone, the ACT government upped the ante by committing to be powered by 100 per cent renewables by 2025. The ACT has always been active in the renewables space and it is great news for the nation’s capital and its citizens. The ACT keeps forging ahead even though this current federal government has shown an unheard of dislike for wind turbines and renewable energy in general. The state's decision shows its community’s commitment to decarbonisation of their electricity consumption and they are prepared to make a significant investment in the future.
In 2009, my home state of South Australia committed $20 million to funding to a body called Renewables SA, of which I was a board member. The specific aim of the board was to increase the uptake of renewables by helping emerging technologies get commercially ready. We were able to fund a range of activities that could add value, growth and employment to the state. One major project was the commissioning of a study into the business case for investment in transmission and generation to unlock large scale renewable energy generation in the South Australian Eyre Peninsula, the best wind resource in Australia.
The second major study was to explore what opportunities South Australia had to develop a bioenergy industry, given the availability of land, some residual infrastructure yet relatively low rainfall.
More recently South Australia, recognising that we as a nation are on the cusp of an energy revolution, released another significant policy. Adelaide City Council is offering direct incentives for installing Solar PV, installing battery storage and other initiatives such as energy efficiency upgrades for apartments and electric vehicle charge controllers. These incentives are significant, ranging from $500 to $5,000 and are open to city residents, businesses, schools and the wider community organisations.
Whilst the federal government hides behind hollow policies and spin in the lead up to the December Conference of the Parties in Paris, these three states have trumped their lack of real action. All three states have taken the lead, working not just to improve their own states but to also improve our nation’s stance by taking positive and real action to deal with climate change.