The Bracks Government will put at stake its environmental credentials in the lead up to next year’s State election if it allows Hazelwood power station to expand, green groups have warned.
The call comes as groups rally – around a three-storey inflatable cooling tower – at the steps of Treasury Place, where Cabinet is meeting today to finalise the proposed expansion of Hazelwood.
According to reports, the Government has signed a deal with Hazelwood, the developed world’s most polluting power station, which would cap its climate change pollution at 445 million tonnes over 25 years. If these reports are correct this deal would:
* renege on the Government’s earlier assurances that it would require reductions in Hazelwood’s pollution;
* allow Hazelwood to continue operating at current emissions levels, which are the worst in Australia and among the worst in the world;
* effectively provide a $16.7 billion subsidy over 25 years from the public purse, based on current European Union figures, if this emissions cap is protected from a future emissions trading scheme; and
* give Hazelwood a licence to continue operating – and polluting – well beyond 2030 and provide no guarantee when the power station will shut down.
Environment Victoria’s Executive Director Marcus Godinho said if this report was correct it would be a dirty deal: “Hazelwood is the number one test for the Bracks Government. An expansion will mean failure, which will be felt at the ballot box. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of this decision for the future of the environment, as well as our economy and jobs. An expansion would annihilate the Government’s environmental credibility.”
Australian Conservation Foundation Executive Director, Don Henry, said: “The Hazelwood decision is a key test of how fair dinkum the Bracks Government is about tackling climate change. This year we’ve seen governments in NSW and WA say no to new coal reserves in favour of gas-fired power stations, renewables and energy efficiency.”
Greenpeace Campaigns Manager, Danny Kennedy, said “The Bracks Government seems intent on granting Hazelwood a licence to pollute when what it should be doing is introducing a clean energy target so that we can retire this 40 year old dinosaur as soon as possible. Taking that positive step would create clean energy jobs and investment, and effectively tackle climate change.”