Next week’s Victorian state budget needs to demonstrate that Premier Andrews’ leadership promises on climate change and clean energy will be matched with significant funding commitments, Environment Victoria said today.
Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham today said:
“Premier Andrews has signalled his intention to make Victoria a leader in responding to global warming, cutting emissions and building renewable energy in the past 12 months. This forthcoming state budget needs to ensure those ambitions become a reality.
“In June 2016, the Premier committed to making Victoria a leader on climate change and set renewable energy targets promising to build 1500 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020 and 5400 megawatts by 2025. These are very welcome plans that will create thousands of jobs and set a positive course for Victoria’s future. Now it is time to make these plans a reality this year with funding in next week’s budget.
“Some positive clean energy announcements have already been made, including tenders for battery storage and small-scale energy efficiency programs, but more comprehensive and funded policies are needed if the state is to meet its renewable energy and climate targets.
“As the Premier said last June, when announcing Victoria’s net zero emissions target: ‘The cost of doing nothing is much, much bigger than any investments that we might make and will need to make’.
“On the natural environment, we look forward to seeing funding to properly implement the government’s new Biodiversity Plan and a strengthened Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. The creation of the Great Forest National Park and protection of the Leadbeater’s possum is overdue and should be resourced in this budget.
“With Hazelwood’s closure, the Andrews government made significant and welcome funding commitments to support the economic diversification of the Latrobe Valley.
“We expect that support for alternative economic activity in the Latrobe Valley will be for sustainable industries, not for projects that add to Victoria’s climate pollution, like alternative uses of coal.
“Anything that adds new climate pollution to our environmental balance sheet is undermining the government’s own efforts to make Victoria a climate leader. The path to net zero emissions can’t start with a backwards step.
“We will also be examining the budget papers to see how much taxpayer money was used to keep the Portland aluminium smelter operating. Much like the Latrobe Valley is going through a transition, we anticipate that Portland will also need plans for economic diversification in the near future given Alcoa’s uncertain commitment to the region. Hopefully the construction of new wind projects in Victoria’s southwest can play a big part of a new clean energy economy for South West Victoria.”
Environment Victoria’s budget submission is available here.
Environment Victoria will be participating in next week’s budget lock-up and will be available for comment on what the budget means for our environment and the state’s response to climate change.
Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria CEO
Mobile: 0439 700 501