MEDIA RELEASE: 12 Nov 2018 Liberal party support for new gas & coal a dangerous option when renewables are ready

coal_power_station.png

This morning Matthew Guy and the Victorian Coalition announced their intention to build a new ‘baseload’ 500 MW power station if elected at the November state election.

Friends of the Earth say the Liberal party's decision to release an energy policy open to new gas and coal power fails the climate change test when renewable energy is the best option to cut emissions and deliver cheaper power for Victorians.

“We are pleased that the Coalition has finally released its full energy policy. But they have let the Victorian people down by proposing a policy which could have come from the 1950s,” said Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth.

“The energy of the future is renewable. It is extraordinary that the Coalition still intends to overturn the VRET – the state renewable energy target which is driving the uptake of renewables while creating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment.

The plan could require public subsidies for the construction of coal or gas-fired power generation.

With the development of new renewables, and the prospect of the game changing Star of the South offshore wind farm proposed for the South Gippsland coast, Victoria simply doesn’t need new fossil fuel capacity:

“It will take several years to build new coal. It is likely to become a stranded asset as renewables get cheaper,” said Cam Walker.  

“Investing public funds in fossil fuel would be economically negligent. It would be a case of ideology overriding economic common sense. If the Coalition plan instead intends to rely on private finance, which institutions are likely to invest in new coal?”

The Coalition have also announced their intention to open the way to renewed conventional gas drilling:

“The Coalition enacted the moratorium when it was in power in 2012. They did so because of opposition to drilling plans by Coalition voting constituencies in regional Victoria. Nothing has changed. Lifting the ban will just re-open the old conflict, without any guarantee that it will deliver cheaper energy for Victorians.”

The Liberal party’s failure to rule out support for new gas and coal power comes just weeks after the world's leading scientists issued a warning on climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) special report says emissions from fossil fuel, industry, and land use must be halved by 2030 and eliminated entirely by 2050 to avoid catastrophic impacts.

"Matthew Guy and the Liberal party must rule out gas and coal, or they will expose Victorian communities to intensifying climate impacts such as heatwaves, droughts, and bushfires," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth climate spokesperson.

The Opposition energy policy announcement comes just days after community members mocked the Liberal party’s “head-in-the-sand” approach to climate change.

“The Liberal party’s failure on climate change was a drag on the electoral prospects of their candidate in the recent byelection in the federal seat of Wentworth,” said Leigh Ewbank.  

“Matthew Guy’s failure to present a comprehensive plan to cut emissions and protect the community from climate impacts will dampen the electoral fortunes of sitting MPs and aspirants.”