The federal Liberals suffered at the polls because of their lack of ambition on climate change. Waging a culture war instead of getting on with the energy transition has become synonymous with being unelectable.
So it's a smart move by Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy to back renewables and net-zero emissions by 2050 in an opinion piece printed in The Age today. But there are many details in Matthew Guy’s plan that can’t go unchallenged.
He blames the current state Labor government for not doing the "the heavy lifting (required) to transform our energy system" to be ready for a mix of renewables and storage. Yet his party put in place arguably the world’s most restrictive anti wind laws the last time they were in power.
The VC82 anti-wind laws stopped the development of large scale renewables and lost Victoria years we couldn’t afford. Matthew Guy was Planning Minister at the time.
The Liberals ruled out an orderly closure of the Hazelwood power station, which increased the shock to the system when the owners closed it down, leaving the community to pick up the pieces. And Mr Guy still supports further development of onshore gas. The fact is that the time for new gas development is over. With limited supplies of this non renewable resource, the price can only go in one direction – up. In contrast, more renewable energy supply will bring prices down.
The Victorian Liberals’ affirmation that the net-zero by 2050 goal is no longer up for debate is a welcome step, in contrast with the internal disputes still present in the federal Coalition. However, climate science has long told us to have a chance at avoiding global warming of more than 1.5C, the deepest emissions cuts need to be made well before 2050.
Communities and businesses are already facing intensifying climate impacts around Victoria.
It's what we do now that will make a difference in terms of how much global heating our children will be living with.
We welcome the movement of the Liberals towards a sensible policy on energy and urge them to get behind deeper, early climate action. This has to go far beyond upgrades to the transmission network.
When it comes to energy policy, if Victoria is to meet and exceed its current 2030 climate target, any future government will need to:
- Put the state on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and kickstart new industries like offshore wind.
- Deliver a just transition plan for communities like the Latrobe Valley that currently host the state's ageing coal plants.
- Get Victorian homes, businesses and industry off polluting fossil gas by efficiently electrifying everything and ending subsidies for gas in new suburbs and businesses.
- Halt new gas developments threatening coastal and regional communities.
Time will tell whether the public can trust the Victorian Liberals to deliver the kind of climate and energy policy needed to get the climate crisis under control.