Media Releases | 17th May, 2016

Coalition climate policy missing key plank, report highlights

A new analysis of Australia’s rapidly changing energy market confirms that governments must develop plans to phase out coal-burning power stations, Environment Victoria said today.

The report brings into sharp focus the major differences in climate policy between the government and opposition, just seven weeks from the federal election.

Released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the report finds that delaying the transition from old coal power stations to renewable energy means more pollution and less certainty for affected communities.

Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle said today:

“In the past 12 months it’s become increasingly clear that we’re on the cusp of a major transition in electricity generation. The IEEFA report tells us that burying your head in the sand about the shift from coal power to clean energy is the wrong approach.”

“We’re much better off embracing this transition, planning it, and accelerating it, rather than trying to hold back the tide of new technologies.

“You don’t have an effective climate policy unless you’ve got a plan to phase out coal-burning power stations, and the Coalition still doesn’t have one.

“Coal-burning power stations are the largest single source of carbon pollution in Australia. Their ongoing operation is causing global warming, harming the health of nearby communities and preventing new investment in clean energy.

“We are already seeing power stations being retired across the country, but this IEEFA report shows that just leaving this to the market will have much worse results than if governments plan the phase-out.

“The federal ALP has released its Climate Change Action Plan, which includes a commitment to start phasing out coal power stations. The Turnbull Government must reveal before the election whether it also has a responsible plan for phasing out our oldest and dirtiest power stations like Hazelwood and Yallourn in Victoria, or whether these power stations will be allowed to continue increasing their pollution.

Preliminary studies by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) found that even the Coalition’s weak climate targets, confirmed at the Paris climate talks, will mean retiring 40 percent of Victoria’s coal generation by 2030. At the moment, the Emissions Reduction Fund is doing nothing to drive this critical transition, and is even allowing coal power stations across the country to increase pollution.

“With climate scientists saying we are now past 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, approaching dangerous points of no return, much stronger targets are needed. This will require phasing out coal-burning power stations even faster.

Polling conducted by ReachTEL last week shows that 56 percent of Australians are more likely to vote for a party that starts an orderly phase-out of coal power stations.

“In Victoria, the state government is starting to address the barriers to exit noted in the IEEFA report, with mine rehabilitation bonds for the three brown coal mines increasing to 100 percent of estimated liabilities by January 2017.

“With many of the energy policy levers at their disposal, state governments can also drive this energy transition to make it as smooth and clean as possible. We have no time to waste.”


For interview and further comment:

Dr Nicholas Aberle, Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager
Mobile: 0402 512 121