Another massive week in climate news
Research released by the ANU this week backs up the findings of QCC’s recent report - that Queensland, along with the rest of Australia, can be a renewable energy superpower by capitalising on the environmental and socioeconomic benefits that a well-managed transition to renewables will bring. ANU’s report suggests that Australia’s renewable energy industry can deliver 50% of household and business energy needs by 2025. The rapidly falling costs economics of renewable energy in Australia mean that we can have a reliable electricity supply, lower power prices and action on climate change too.
With recent steps taken by the Queensland Government to establish CleanCo, a publicly owned renewable energy corporation, alongside ongoing investment to deliver on the 50% renewable energy by 2030 target, there’s hope that Queensland can do it’s fair share in delivering on the Paris Agreement. QCC and other environment and community groups have expressed interest in being involved in discussions around what the CleanCo mandate should look like and have requested representation on the Just Transition Group’s Advisory Committee to ensure these forums point us in the right direction.
With the continued failure of the Federal Government to deliver national energy and climate policy, it is reassuring to see the Queensland Government pushing ahead. Currently attending the Global Climate Action Summit in California, Minister Enoch is sharing experiences from Queensland, including the delivery of the world’s longest electric vehicle superhighway and moves to cover new ground in carbon farming.
There’s a lot to gain from Queensland’s attendance, with many lessons to be learned from leading states, cities and corporations in climate action. We hope that Queensland uses the opportunity to explore how we can accelerate the shift away from our emissions intensive operations, such as coal and gas extraction and export, to practical low carbon alternatives. Another investigation this week into Adani’s activities at the proposed Carmichael coal mine site highlights the urgency of the risks Queensland’s water resources, cultural and environmental heritage and our climate are facing. We commend the State Government's prompt commitment to investigate the extent of drilling on the site. With the Premiere agreeing that proposals for new coal-fired power stations (this time, Palmer’s Galilee power station) are a waste of government dollars and time, the focus needs to be on planning a smooth and just transition to a zero-net emissions economy, including the shift away from unreliable coal and gas.
In other climate news, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency committed $22.1 million to fund renewable hydrogen projects across nine Australian universities, including $3.3 million to the Queensland University of Technology. With the infrastructure and experience in exporting LNG, alongside an abundance of wind and solar resources, Queensland is well placed to become a leader in the emerging renewable hydrogen market. Developing a renewable hydrogen supply chain and opening a new export market will help in transitioning the state's economy away from coal and gas to low carbon alternatives. This is timely given rising pressure to find a substitute for gas, with bans, moratoriums or restrictions on fracking now in place in five out of six states in Australia.
Queensland has also seen the end of a successful biofuel trial at Brisbane airport, showing potential for a large biofuel industry in Queensland to supply airlines and the US Navy. The switch to biofuels would help the aviation industry meet its emissions targets, including to peak emissions by 2020, with 20% less emissions than from standard aviation fuels. However, in our recent report, QCC notes the importance of applying sustainability criteria to any project approval process to enable the largest emissions reduction potential from land use across the state.
To top it off, a new report from ClimateWorks Australia, 'Tracking Progress to net zero emissions,' shows there’s still a lot to be done to reduce Australia’s emissions, rising since 2013. Climateworks Australia’s analysis found we need to double current progress if we’re to meet the emissions reduction target of 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and then triple actions to mitigate emissions if we’re to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The good news is that opportunities exist for Queensland to become leaders in land management and rapidly decarbonise electricity, opening doors to reduce emissions across transport, industry, and buildings, while growing the economy. With well-reasoned analysis and meaningful engagement, Queensland can harness the ideas of environmentalists, academics, farmers, business and industry and communities to achieve consensus on a vision for a low emissions economy and find and deliver solutions to the complex problems presented by climate change.
If you haven't yet read QCC's most recent report, 'Recommendations for Queensland's Climate Transition,' we've outlined a number of practical next steps the Queensland Government can take to put us on the path to a zero-net emissions future.
We can have our reliable, cheap electricity and climate action too.