Since the Andrews Government was elected in 2014, together with people like you who care enough to act, we’ve gained some impressive wins for our environment.
Renewable energy is back on track, with the introduction of a Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET), an increase in solar feed-in tariffs, and the reversal of laws blocking wind farms. Hazelwood has finally been retired. The Andrews government has raised coal mining royalties and rehabilitation bonds so that coal companies are paying their way and communities are better protected when mines close.
We’ve also seen some important structural reforms. Victoria has a strengthened Climate Change Act, with a target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. We have a long-overdue biodiversity strategy and better protection for river-side vegetation. However, the work isn’t over. Before the next election, the Andrews government needs to lock in support for renewables, set targets to reduce emissions across all sectors and finally establish the Great Forest National Park.
The VRET commits Victoria to sourcing 40 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025. The target is delivered using reverse auctions, where sellers compete to win a contract for their renewables project at the lowest price. The first auction was announced in November, with results expected in the second half of 2018.
But the government hasn’t yet set a pipeline of auctions to deliver the rest of the target. This is a missed opportunity to give industry the certainty it needs. We’ll keep pushing the government to set a timetable of auctions that will bring 1000 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy online each year in the next term of Parliament.
We’re also pushing the Andrews government to set ambitious interim targets for emissions reductions in 2025 and 2030. These are required across all sectors by the Climate Change Act. The government has appointed an expert panel to advise it, and we’re working to make sure that the recommended targets are ambitious and consistent with what the science demands.
A stronger Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act is also needed – this is Victoria’s key piece of legislation to protect threatened species. A government review has identified its shortcomings – now it’s time to fix it.
Finally, the Great Forest National Park would be a great legacy for this government – protecting 355,000 hectares of forest, creating 750 jobs and bringing 380,000 new visitors to our spectacular central highlands. And it would be a vital step in protecting the Leadbeater’s Possum.
While there’s an election in November, there’s still eight months for the Andrews government to act on some of our biggest environmental problems, rather than just kick the can down the road to the next term of Parliament.
This article was published in Environment Victoria News, Issue 29, Autumn 2018.
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