Media Releases | 4th Aug, 2015

President Obama’s rules on coal-fired power stations show Victoria how to lead

4 August 2015

Environment Victoria welcomes new moves by President Obama in the US to limit the carbon pollution from the country’s coal-fired power stations, noting that similar plans are needed in Australia to make serious cuts to emissions.

The US EPA has set limits on the emissions allowed per unit of electricity for each state, expected to force the early retirement of heavily polluting coal-fired power stations, which will be replaced with wind and solar power.

Environment Victoria’s Safe Climate Campaign Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle said today:

“President Obama’s new rules will lead to the closure of power stations in the US that are much cleaner than Victoria’s Hazelwood and Yallourn power stations. There is an opportunity now in Victoria to show leadership on this issue just as President Obama has.

“Coal-fired power stations in the US are responsible for about one-third of total emissions, which is very similar to Australia. But in Victoria the situation is much worse, with coal responsible for almost half of our carbon pollution. This is an enormous volume of emissions that needs to be addressed if we’re going to be serious about tackling climate change.

“The Andrews Government is in the middle of reviewing both the EPA and the state’s Climate Change Act. The outcome of these processes should ensure that emissions from Victoria’s dirty brown coal power stations are reduced as quickly as possible.

“There have been a number of coal power station closures across Australia in the past few years, as ageing generators become unprofitable. This process is inevitable, but there are two things we can do about it.

“Firstly, we can give industry certainty around closure timelines through mechanisms like emission standards that also ensure the dirtiest generators are retired first. Secondly, governments can start preparing now for these inevitable closures so communities are supported through the transition.

“Obama has rightly said that we are the last generation that can do something about climate change. This is our chance. The longer we wait, the worse it gets.”

Background to President Obama’s new rules

Under the Clean Power Plan, the US EPA will set interim targets for emissions intensity – meaning emissions per unit of electricity – for each state, and final targets in 2030 for both emissions intensity and total emissions. Each state is required to develop its own plan for how to meet these targets, with significant flexibility on what these plans might include.

States can set limits on individual generators or across an entire fleet, and can also use other measures such as the roll-out of renewable energy and energy efficiency to cut emissions, as well as emissions trading between states.

Individual states are also required to show how community input is being included in the plans.

For comment:
Dr Nicholas Aberle, Safe Climate Campaigner, 0402 512 121