2015 was the hottest year on record, and in February 2016, the world experienced weather that was 1.5°C above average temperatures for the first time. The Great Barrier Reef, tropical mangrove systems, and ancient Tasmanian forests are already being destroyed by global warming. Globally, the displacement of communities by climate change is already happening.
It is clear that the current warming of just one degree Celsius is not safe. Yet under current climate policies, globally we are heading to an overall warming of 3 – 4oC.
There is an urgent need for us to rapidly shift from our current reliance on coal, oil and gas if we are to do our part to avoid dangerous climate change.
In a report released during the international climate change negotiations in Marrakesh, research organisation Climate Analytics warned that rich countries must close all their coal-fired power plants by 2030 to have a chance of holding global warming to tolerable levels.
A growing number of nations and state governments are moving to phase out coal fired power stations. For instance:
- it has been announced by the Conservative -dominated government in the UK that Britain's last coal power plants will close by 2025
- France has announced that it will shut down all its coal-fired power plants no later than 2023.
- Canada has announced plans to phase out the use of coal-fired electricity by 2030.
We have been failed by the federal government, who continue to back new coal mines and gas exports.
Faced with this comprehensive failure, we must all step up and do what we can to reduce our contribution to climate change. The state government has a major role to play because it is responsible for managing our electricity supply system.
The Andrews government has already shown leadership on the environment and climate change. In particular, the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) and the ban on fracking will help drive job creation and investment in our state while reducing our contribution to climate change. The ban will protect farmland and regional communities and the VRET is expected to generate almost 10,000 jobs and $2.5B in new investment, while cutting our greenhouse pollution by more than 12%.
Our chance to get it right
There are two significant government policies that will be announced soon. The government will soon release a draft coal policy and amendments to the Victorian Climate Change Act. This is our chance to set our state on a pathway to a truly sustainable future.
1/ Victorian Climate Change Act
Following an Independent Review of the Climate Change Act (CCA), the government is now re-writing the Act.
Sadly the Coalition government gutted the CCA while it was in power, removing the emissions reduction targets in the Act. As a result, our state lost five years in a decade where the global community had a rapidly closing opportunity to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
The re-write of the Act is significant because of the key role a re-built CCA must play in re-shaping our economy to be fit for purpose in the 21st century.
It should provide a clear mechanism that will lead to a reduction in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. This means there must be enforceable emission reduction targets (ERTs). The government has committed to including enforceable ERTs. The key issue will be whether they are deep enough to start the transition away from coal and towards a future based on 100% renewables. Coal fired power stations currently contribute nearly half of the state’s total greenhouse pollution.
The government will announce an interim target in late 2016 for action between 2017 and 2020. It is expected to announce a target for 2025 next year.
Tell the Premier you want action now
Please sign our petition to the premier calling for deep ERTs for 2020. It is essential we get on with the job of cutting our emissions now – not in another 5 or 10 years.
You can sign the petition here (you will need to insert your preferred target, The Greens suggest a target of 40%).
The government has done some great things on gas drilling and renewables. Now we’re getting to the hard part: transitioning rapidly away from our current reliance on coal. Getting the targets right will be a real test for the government.
Why do we need deep ERTs?
- Emission reduction targets are a mechanism which will start to drive the closure of existing coal fired power stations (it is essential we keep pressure on to ensure there is active government support for the diversification of the Latrobe Valley economy as this happens).
- The community wants to see the transition happen. Polling by ReachTel (commissioned by Friends of the Earth) shows there is strong support in the Victorian community for an ‘urgent’ transition away from coal to 100 percent renewable energy.
- Climate science tells us the transition must happen urgently. According to the latest science, there is no room left to burn further carbon if we want to have a hope of holding overall global warming to 1.5oC. We must get to zero emissions as soon as is possible.
- The government has two years left in its current term. The short term targets are the only ones they can guarantee they can deliver. Our state cannot afford another 4 to 6 wasted years should the Coalition come to power and continue its anti-environment agenda.
Is it possible?
Other states and similar jurisdictions have already set deep ERTs.
For instance, in California, the Climate Change Act commits the state to a reduction of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
Scotland has adopted a Climate Change Act with ERTs that have driven down greenhouse pollution. Emissions in 2014 were almost 46% lower than 1990 levels as a result of the Act and a range of renewable energy measures.
2/ the coal policy
The Victorian government is currently drafting a policy which will outline whether coal has a future in Victoria (the 'coal statement'). This is significant as it will outline the current government's attitude to previous support for experimental coal technologies (which are often held out as the 'saviour' for the coal industry as the power stations start to close, but which is based on untested and potentially unviable technology. For instance, a company called Latrobe Valley Fertilisers wants to turn gas created from brown coal into fertiliser).
It is expected that this will outline:
- the governments approach to new mining - should new mines or uses of coal be allowed,
- its approach to existing coal mining operations in the Latrobe Valley,
- whether new exploration permits should be allowed (there are currently a number of permits in Gippsland and western Victoria),
- what will happen with the current areas that are under coal allocation (ie, which have been set aside for future possible coal mining). Check here for extra information on the coal allocation areas, and
- whether the government should be approving or funding research and development of coal (for instance ‘clean’ coal or coal-to-fuel projects).
It has now been announced that the policy will not be released until early to mid 2017. This gives us more time to influence the government and make it clear that the community expects them to show leadership and formally rule out any further use of coal.
Please support the campaign for an end to coal, a full transition for the Latrobe Valley, energy efficiency & 100% renewables.
1/ Please sign our petition to the Premier here.
2/ Write to the Minister
It would also be great if you could send a quick message to the Minister for Resources, Wade Noonan, saying that you welcome the government's intention to release the coal statement, and that the time for coal is over. Urge him to produce a policy which recognises this fact, which rules out any further allocations or use of coal, which states that there will be no government funding for experimental coal technologies, and which sets a timeframe for a funded, time bound phasing out of existing coal fired power stations.
The campaign in Northcote
Planning meeting - thursday Dec 15
We will be holding a meeting on thursday 15 December to get things rolling.
Time: 6.30 - 7.30pm
Location: meeting room at Northcote Library, 32-38 Separation Street, Northcote (opposite the Northcote plaza).
What will we be doing? Starting to develop a plan for ramping up community demands that the Victorian government act decisively on climate change.
Work might include: leafleting, developing local media stories, engaging new allies (eg local businesses), lobbying MPs, holding info stalls, organising creative stunts and other events.
You can rsvp for this event here.
For further info, please contact Leigh: firstname.lastname@example.org
Info session and picnic, sunday Dec 4
We will be holding a picnic gathering in All Nations Park in Northcote on sunday December 4, to let people know what we'll be doing with our campaign in coming months.
All welcome. Details here.
Tell the Premier you want an end to coal
Use social media to tell the Premier and Resources Minister that you want to see the state government support deep emission reduction targets, a staged transition and closure of coal fired power stations.
Eg on twitter: @DanielAndrewsMP @wadenoonan Its time for transition. Rebuild the Climate Act, deep emission reduction targets, no new coal #ActonClimateVIC
You can send the same message by tagging the premier and resources minister Wade Noonan on facebook.
Better still, send them a quick message via email: email@example.com
Just cut and paste the text from our petition (available here) and modify it as you want, add your contact details, and send.
Tell your local MP
Fiona Richardson is the Member for the state seat of Northcote. Please cut and paste the letter from our petition (available here), add your contact details and urge her, as your local member, to support a rapid transition away from our current reliance on coal.
You can email her via this address: firstname.lastname@example.org