The Andrews Labor government have just been returned for a third term of government, with nation-leading plans to ramp up clean energy and cut climate pollution.
This historic outcome will see Victoria’s energy system shift from the dirtiest in the country to the cleanest. It shows what’s possible after decades of community-led work to shift the debate around climate policy.
Here’s a breakdown of what they’ve promised and what it means for climate action in Victoria:
Labor have committed to phasing out all of Victoria’s coal power stations by 2035, and replacing them with clean renewable energy. This is a massive step forward, given Victoria currently relies on coal for around two thirds of our power!
Of course, the International Energy Agency and the UN have advised that we need to stop burning coal faster – by 2030 – to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees. We need to see both state and federal governments ramping up their ambition, and we’ll keep putting pressure on Labor to make sure the clean energy transition happens faster, and fairer.
Labor have increased their Renewable Energy Target from 50 to 65% by 2030, and a new target of 95% by 2035. These targets are backed up by plans to massively expand renewable energy generation (including a new offshore wind target), battery storage and the transmission infrastructure needed to get this energy to every corner of the state.
Labor have a new Emissions Reduction Target for 2035 to cut climate pollution by 75-80%. They’ve also brought forward their net zero target from 2050 to 2045. These targets represent some of the most ambitious in the world – raising the bar and putting pressure on other jurisdictions here and overseas to lift their game.
Labor’s plans to revive the State Electricity Commission (SEC) was the centrepiece of their campaign. Re-establishing the SEC means putting power generation back in public hands and gives a massive boost to clean energy investment and generation. With an initial $1 billion investment, it would deliver 4.5 gigawatts (GW) of energy.
The corporations that own Victoria’s coal power stations have made enormous profits while actively delaying the transition to renewables. In the SEC, Victoria has the chance to reshape our energy system and show Australia what a good energy company looks like – one that acts in the public interest and delivers clean affordable energy for all.
Labor came to the election with an existing target to build 2GW of offshore wind power generation by 2032, 4GW by 2035 and 9GW by 2040. For context, 2GW is around 20% of Victoria’s total power – and enough to power more than 1.5 million homes! They have also committed an additional $75 million for offshore wind development.
Offshore wind is a big missing piece of Australia’s energy puzzle and one of the biggest levers we have to cut pollution while boosting the economy and creating long-term local jobs. Around 6,000 jobs are expected to be created, many in Gippsland where two of the main projects are located.
Labor will legislate a target of at least 2.6GW of energy storage capacity (think household and community batteries!) by 2030 and at least 6.3GW by 2035. It’s the first energy storage target in Australia, and will be a key way to ensure our electricity grid is ready for 100% renewables.
They have also committed to building 100 new neighbourhood batteries across Victoria, making sure people who can’t install batteries in their homes can still take advantage of clean, affordable energy.
The release of the government’s Gas Substitution Roadmap earlier this year starts to lay out a plan for helping Victorian homes switch from expensive, polluting gas to efficient, electric appliances. You can read more about it here >>
The roadmap is an important step forward – particularly because it acknowledges the need to phase out gas in Victoria if we’re going to meet our climate targets (gas is currently responsible for 16% of our emissions). However, we’re still waiting to see clear timelines and targets which could come early next year.
With the election campaign behind us, we’ve now got a big opportunity to make sure our energy system is not only cleaner, but also fairer.
It’s crucial that the clean energy transition benefits everyone – including the First Nations on whose country every wind turbine, solar panel and transmission line will be built. We will be pushing the government to look at the opportunities a revised SEC presents, for example by returning a share of the profits to First Nations and control over where and how renewable energy infrastructure is built.
Meanwhile, we know the gas industry will resist the transition to a cleaner, fairer energy system every step of the way to protect their profits. While they ramp up scare campaigns to stall the transition off gas, we’ll keep exposing just how bad polluting gas is for our climate, energy bills and health.
Of course, there’s still lots of work to be done to ensure the government delivers on their election promises. And with native forests still being logged and an extinction crisis threatening many of our iconic plants and animals, it’s clear our government needs to seriously step up to protect nature.
Alongside our allies and powerful communities on the ground in our Action Network, we are ready to hold them accountable every step of the way.
The next few months will be a period of reflection for the Victorian Liberal and National coalition as they choose a new leader and re-consider their policies.
We’ll be talking to them about at least matching Labor’s ambition on climate, including bipartisan support for 2035 emissions targets and closing coal. Their last-minute announcement about boosting gas production undermined some otherwise positive plans, so we’ll be talking to them about the benefits of helping households switch from gas to cheaper, cleaner electric appliances.