The federal government’s climate target is now enshrined in law.
This means that by 2030, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions must be 43% lower than in 2005.
While it is stronger than the 26-28% target it is replacing, the bill only got the support it required from the cross bench under the condition that the 43% was a floor, not a ceiling.
Today, the Climate Council released what it calls a “plug-and-play” road map to allow politicians to break through the ceiling.
According to the report, 10 The “breakthrough” targets can begin to drive emissions to a 75% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030 and to reach “net zero emissions soon after”.
“What we are proposing here is a plan to see pollution decrease much faster,” said Climate Council Chief Executive Amanda McKenzie.
“We’ve had 10 years of inactivity, so there’s a lot to catch up.”
100% renewable grid supply.
The burning of fossil fuels is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases in Australia. So, getting enough renewable energy online to meet grid demand is where the biggest gains can be made.
But we don’t just need enough electricity to meet today’s needs. The data cited in today’s report estimates that we will use around 42% more electricity by 2031.
The top taxi out of the rankings on the Climate Council’s 10 list is aiming for nearly 100% renewable energy by 2030.
It is a huge undertaking, requiring not only investments in clean energy technology, but also an increase in transmission by a total length of about “24 times” the current system.
At present, the federal government estimates $ 20 billion Rewiring the nation investments should bring about 82% penetration of renewables by 2030.
While this is a good start, Climate Council economist Nicki Hutley said we need to be more ambitious.
“Nothing is done unless it is planned to be done. I would prefer we do it [for more renewables] and I missed a little “.
Increase the accumulation of energy
When the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing, we can still get our electricity from renewable sources, provided we have sufficient reserves.
Alongside a renewable energy target, today’s report said there had to be a renewable energy storage objective “by the end of 2023”.
Storage options include “pumped hydropower, grid-scale batteries, community batteries and behind-the-meter batteries that are part of a virtual power plant – any accessible and controllable battery system to support grid security and resilience.” “.
Adequate storage space is critical to providing network support and stability.
“You can’t have one without the other. It’s the proverbial horse and carriage,” said Mrs. Hutley.
Support coal communities in the transition
Another recommendation is that public funding for coal, oil and gas should stop.
Ms Hutley said we shouldn’t support fossil fuel companies with public finances “any more than we do big tobacco.”
“In the last few years, [public funding for the fossil fuel industry] an average of about $ 11 billion a year, “he said.
“[Stopping that funding] it will not carry over the budget in surplus, but it is a significant amount “.
At the same time, however, the report stressed the importance of supporting coal and gas communities in the transition to clean energy industries and to improve workers’ skills for those jobs.
Tony Wolfe, a coal worker in La Trobe Valley, has been in the industry for over 40 years.
He says the coal workforce is extremely proud of the role it has played in powering the country, but there is a shift in the mood towards seeking opportunities in renewable energy.
“We have this tremendous opportunity to move forward with a cleaner and safer fuel source,” he said.
“The latest estimate is that there are between $ 33 and $ 40 billion worth of renewable projects at various stages of planning [in the region] – mainly offshore wind. “
He said it’s critical that the community accept this and that there is support for improving skills.
“A lot of the jobs currently in the power generation industry – electricians, fitters and turners, boiler makers and engineers – are fully transferable.”
The Climate Council recommends a national energy transition authority to help regional communities reap the greatest benefits from the transition:
“This authority will work in partnership with agencies based in the coal and gas regions to support economic diversification and upgrading in line with the priorities and strengths of different communities.”
Fuel efficiency standards required soon
As things stand, Australia is one of the few OECD countries that do not have vehicle fuel efficiency standards.
Many industry insiders say this is at least partly why we struggle to get a sufficient supply of electric vehicles in the country.
One model for fuel efficiency standards is to place a cap on the average total emissions per vehicle that a particular manufacturer sells on the Australian market.
This does not mean that they cannot sell high-emission vehicles, but that there is an incentive for them to push electric or low-emission vehicles as well, so that their overall average is below the limit.
The sooner we introduce fuel efficiency standards, the sooner we will increase the supply of electric vehicles and reduce transport emissions, the report says.
Jake Whitehead, chief of policy at the Electric Vehicle Council, told ABC that switching to electric vehicles would also give us autonomy over the power supply.
“What we’re talking about here is building a [transport] system that is entirely dependent on Australian energy, “said Dr Whitehead, who was not involved in the report.
Electrify public transport
While we’re in transportation, there’s a much cleaner option than driving an electric vehicle, and that’s not driving a vehicle at all.
Today’s report estimates that the rapid shift to zero-emission buses and other public transportation would bring savings of hundreds of billions of dollars.
These savings come mainly from the “health and social costs” of air pollution.
There are also opportunities for Australia to become a “sustainable powerhouse for electric vehicle manufacturing,” given our rich reserves of many of the minerals used in electric vehicle manufacturing, the report said.
To achieve a rapid transition to electric public transportation, the Climate Council suggests that the federal government match dollar-for-dollar investments of states and territories.
According to report co-author Simon Bradshaw, electrification and upgrading of the public transit system, along with vehicle emission standards and investment in bicycle lane infrastructure, can help significantly impact the emissions of our national transportation.
“We need to electrify much faster than is currently planned,” said Dr. Bradshaw.
“[And] we have to invest much more in public transport “.
Review the safeguard mechanism
Australia has a safeguard mechanism that requires polluting industries to keep their emissions below a predetermined limit.
“The main thing right now is the [emissions] the ceiling is too high, ”said Ms. Hutley.
There are also problems with how we measure emissions, both by intensity and by overall production, and the use of offsets by companies trying to get around the limits.
Today’s report recommends strengthening the safeguard mechanism and closing the gaps to ensure that major polluters “do their part”.
Other recommendations on the list include developing a climate and energy investment plan, requiring new buildings to be net zero, and retrofitting existing buildings with electricity infrastructure to replace gas.