The last two years has seen the government of Daniel Andrews invest considerable funds into environmental action.
This funding has supported a modest set of environmental and climate policies. There have also been some very welcome policy announcements, including the permanent ban on onshore unconventional gas drilling and the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET). While forward movement has to be welcomed, we are all aware that the next big task will be to start the phaseout of coal fired power stations.
The Andrews government has two years left in its current term of power. Much of the good environmental measures implemented by the previous ALP government were quickly dismantled while the Coalition was in power between 2010 and 2014. So our state is now playing catch-up on climate policy at a time when climate science shows us that every minute matters.
It is imperative that the state government gets on with the job of future proofing our economy and radically reducing our contribution to global warming by replacing the coal fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley with 100% renewable energy. This needs to drive a profound shift in our economy and energy systems so a conservative government cannot undo the changes easily should they come back to power. In 2016/17 the government committed $40m to start transition planning for the Latrobe Valley. This needs to be built on in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 budgets to ensure a just transition away from our current reliance on coal to produce most of our electricity. We are already seeing the restart of large scale renewables (helped by the VRET which was recently announced), and closure is the next step. The phaseout of coal will be a one way street. It will not be able to be undone should the Coalition come to power in 2018.
However, there are many claims on funds in the state budget. A profound shift in the government’s spending priorities will not happen without a massive push from the community.
The first budget of the Andrews government (2015) was pitched as being ‘For Families’.
The second budget (2016) was billed as ‘Getting It Done’.
We want the next two budgets to focus on environmental protection and the climate.
The re-write of the Climate Change Act, due to happen later this year, plus the renewable energy action plan and new coal policy, should lay the ground work and sketch a plan that will transition Victoria’s economy to a sustainable footing. The next two state budgets should provide serious funding to make these plans a reality. The recent announcement that the Hazelwood power station may close as early as next year highlights how urgently we need to get on with diversifying the Latrobe Valley economy so the community is not left behind when the inevitable closures do start.
Here’s where you come in …
We have a draft two year plan outlining the measures we want the government to fund. It’s a pragmatic list of things a sensible government would do if they wanted to fund good environmental and climate policy.
But of course it can go a lot further and deeper.
So, we’re crowd sourcing ideas in order to produce the world’s best state budget proposal.
We want to see your list of the top things the government should fund to ensure meaningful action on the environment and climate, and a just transition for the Latrobe Valley in the next two budgets.
- This is for a state budget proposal, so it needs to be things that a state government has the power to enact.
- It has to be things that are technically feasible and politically possible. If you’re proposing a major transformation (eg, 100% renewables by Friday afternoon) we want to hear your thoughts on what a viable pathway would be to seeing your ask actually happen. We don’t want to publish a simple wish list – we want to show a coherent pathway that can lead to transformation of our economy and energy systems.
- If you have any thoughts on how much this might cost, even the better.
- If you want to send us any reference materials, please do so.
Please email your ideas to: [email protected]
By November 20.
What happens next?
1/ We will consider all the proposals and seek to compile them into a visionary community ask of the state government and submit it to the budget process.
2/ We will create a draft submission based on the document and encourage thousands of Victorians to send their own submission to the government (to streamline this process we will also have an on line submission that you can sign on to as an individual or organisation).
3/ We will lobby key MPs to support our vision.
What might be in the submission?
The Andrews government has already committed $40 million to economic diversification. But we will need a lot more. Our suggestion is for a minimum of $100 million to be allocated in each of the next two state budgets.
Some top order ideas:
- Fund the Earthworker Co-operative’s solar hot water technology factory in the Latrobe Valley
- Fund the Transition Centre proposed by Voices of the Valley
- Rehabilitate the mine pits. This is expected to generate 150 to 200 jobs in the short term. This could take up to a decade and cost at least $300 million. The CFMEU Victoria district mining and energy division secretary Geoff Dyke estimates it would take 10 to 12 years and about 200 workers to rehabilitate the Morwell mine. An independent assessment by American technical services company AECOM at the reopened Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry last year estimated the cost of rehabilitating the Hazelwood mine was $251 million.
- employ existing Hazelwood staff to dismantle the power station (the plant includes substantial amounts of asbestos and will require several years of work)
- Fund the Latrobe Valley geothermal energy investigation to test whether it will be commercially viable
- Upgrade the rail link between Melbourne and the Valley. As coal power starts to close and air quality improves, the Valley can become a growth area for Melbourne once transport links are improved
- Establish a home energy efficiency retrofit program for Gippsland
- Fund commercial building energy efficiency programs
- Support the development of a sustainable prefabricated housing construction
- Move one or more state or federal government department to the Valley
What else can we do to support a transition?
Urge the company to close the power station and fund a transition plan
Hazelwood is jointly owned by Engie (formerly GDF Suez), with a 72% share and Mitsui & Co (28% share). Please mention the company on social media and use the hashtag #LVTransition
Suggested tweet or facebook post:
Climate sciences makes it clear: time for coal is over. Close Hazelwood @ENGIEgroup Help fund a #LVTransition
(FoE France will continue it’s campaign to encourage Engie to do the right thing by the planet and the community. Check their recent visit to Engie HQ in Paris, complete with 30 ‘militant kangaroos’ and cheesy dance moves).
Tell the Feds you want them to help fund a plan
It is essential that the federal government at least match the commitments by the state government (who have already put $40 million into transition initiatives). Possible tweet or facebook post:
Hazelwood closure is inevitable. @JoshFrydenberg The federal government needs to help fund #LVTransition