French energy company Engie (known as GDF Suez in Australia), the majority owner of Hazelwood power station, has announced it will cease investment in new coal projects worldwide.
Environment Victoria has welcomed the announcement but says it should extend to retiring existing coal power stations.
“This is a positive first step by Engie and the French government, but serious action on climate pollution cannot ignore the dirtiest coal power station in the developed world – Hazelwood power station in Victoria,” said Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Nick Roberts.
Engie is a sponsor of the upcoming 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, and the French government is its single largest shareholder.
“The French government must continue to influence Engie to make a commitment in the lead-up to the Paris climate negotiations to retire Hazelwood.
“Victoria should now be rapidly developing a transition plan for the Latrobe Valley community to ensure new investment in jobs and industries other than coal. Closure is now inevitable and we need to have a plan to support the community through the transition.
“Hazelwood power station is no longer a community asset, it has now become a liability. In February 2014 the coal mine that supplies the power station caught fire and burned out of control for 45 days, covering the homes of over 15,000 people in toxic coal ash for weeks and damaging the health of the local community.”
In 2015, analysis by researchers at Harvard University, released by Environment Victoria, revealed Hazelwood costs at least $900 million in health and environmental damage per year.
“Victoria also has an opportunity to make some clear and ambitious announcements on what action it will take on climate pollution in the lead-up to the Paris negotiations. We look forward to seeing Premier Andrews become the leader on climate and clean energy policy that so many Victorians want,” said Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Nick Roberts.
Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Nick Roberts: 0429 945 429