Safe Climate

Cleaning up our power

It's time to make the transition from polluting coal to clean, renewable energy. Tell the federal government we need a national plan to phase out coal while supporting affected communities.

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For many decades, Victoria has got its energy from burning brown coal. But coal is past its used-by date. It damages our climate and causes health and environmental problems.

It’s time to shift to the clean industries of the future, like wind power and solar. But we won’t see sufficient investment in clean, renewable energy until large coal-burning power stations are phased out.

The Andrews government has pledged to be a leader on climate change, and create jobs and investment in renewable energy. This means having a plan to start phasing out polluting coal power to make way for clean energy.

But the Victorian government can’t shift to 100 percent clean energy all on its own. Australia has a national electricity market so we need a national plan to phase out coal.

The Turnbull government must create a credible policy to cut climate pollution. The first step is a plan to phase out Australia’s oldest and dirtiest coal-burning power stations, starting here in Victoria.

And it must include support for the local communities around the power stations to create new industries and jobs.

Act now

Electricity in Victoria – by the numbers

  • Around 85 percent of Victoria’s electricity comes from four coal-burning power stations in the Latrobe Valley.
  • These power stations – Hazelwood, Yallourn, Loy Yang A and Loy Yang B – are together responsible for half of Victoria’s greenhouse pollution: around 55 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
  • In March 2017, Hazelwood – Australia’s most polluting power station – will close.
  • Health damage to the community caused by air pollution from these plants costs an estimated $600 million per year.[1]
  • Victoria has more electricity generation capacity than we need – the Australian Energy Market Operator has said that when Hazelwood closes, there will be more than enough energy to power Victoria.[2]
  • Victoria has set an ambitious renewable energy target of 40 percent from wind and solar by 2025 and a target of zero emissions by the year 2050.

The problem

Burning coal causes global warming. And it causes air pollution and health problems.

Read more about brown coal here

Without a government plan, these old power stations may close unexpectedly because of corporate decisions in other countries, which would cause the most disruption to the Latrobe Valley community.

The Solution

In the coming months, the Andrews government will be making big decisions on climate change and energy. The Climate Change Framework is being developed and the state’s 2020 emissions reduction target is being set. The government is also due to release its response to the Environmental Protection Authority Review, the Renewable Energy Action Plan and a new Coal Policy for Victoria.

Through these processes, the Andrews government has a major opportunity to create a strong climate legacy for Victoria.

The government has repeatedly said it will make Victoria a leader on climate change. With half our carbon pollution coming from burning coal, a key plank in this leadership needs to be a plan to phase out our oldest and most polluting power stations, making way for new, clean energy.

The Andrews government needs to:

  1. Set an ambitious emissions reduction target for 2020 – this will be our first step on the path to reaching zero emissions and needs to be deep and bold.
  2. Urgently start the phase-out of our oldest and dirtiest coal-burning power stations. We need a timeline for phasing-out all four coal generators – they are our biggest source of pollution and are blocking clean investment right now
  3. Commit to no new fossil fuel projects in Victoria. The coal policy should establish that there is no place for coal in Victoria’s zero carbon future
  4. Drive the shift from polluting energy to clean energy and ensure that Victorians enjoy the benefits of increased investment and jobs through the Renewable Energy Action Plan.
  5. Strengthen the laws that protect the climate and embed sustainable government decision making through amendments to the Climate Change Act.
  6. Continue providing support to communities in transition as we create a pollution-free Victoria.

Get all the details in our Six Steps to Climate Leadership report.

Read the report

Climate leadership is needed at the federal level as well. The Turnbull government has no credible plan to cut climate pollution and is leaving the urgent task of cleaning up our power supply to the market. This actively undermines state governments that are showing leadership by setting targets to cut pollution and build renewable energy.

A responsible government would have a plan to phase out polluting coal power stations and to support affected communities like the Latrobe Valley.

Tell the federal government to start planning for a clean energy future now.


The transition

Closing power stations will affect the community and economy of the Latrobe Valley.

Hazelwood and Yallourn power stations are very old. Now that Hazelwood’s owners have announced that it will be closed in March 2017, it’s a question of when, not if, other stations like Yallourn will close too. What is important now is that all stakeholders – the community, all levels of government, business groups and others – come up with a real plan to make the economic transition in the Latrobe Valley as smooth and fair as possible.

Read more about just transitions.

The urgency

Global warming won’t stop to suit political timetables. Recent data shows we’re already in dangerous territory, with several months in 2016 hitting warming levels 1.3 degrees above the average[3] – very close to the 1.5 degrees that is considered the maximum we can allow. There can be no delay.

Any government that wants to claim leadership on climate change can’t put this off until later. Our governments must address these problems now. They have the opportunity. It is time to act.


[2] Jordan Ward & Mick Power, “Cleaning up Victoria’s power sector: The full social cost of Hazelwood power station” (2015), Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
[3] Peter Hannam, “’True shocker’: February spike in global temperatures stuns scientists”, The Age, 14 March 2016.

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