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.

Act now

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 enough investment in clean, renewable energy until we phase out large coal-burning power stations.

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 federal 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


  • Australia’s per capita emissions are the highest in the OECD and among the highest in the world. Electricity generation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, making up 33 percent of our climate pollution.[1]
  • 72 percent of Australia’s electricity is produced by coal-burning power stations.[2]
  • Nine coal-fired power stations have closed in Australia in the past five years. The last and biggest one of these, Hazelwood power station, closed at the end of March.
  • There is currently no policy mechanism that ensure an orderly phase-out of Australia’s polluting coal.
  • Even after the closure of the Port Augusta and Hazelwood Power stations, meeting the current very weak federal climate targets will require the additional closure of around 6330 megawatts (MW) of coal-burning power stations before 2030.[3] That is another 3.5 power stations the size of Hazelwood.
  • To have a chance of keeping global warming to 2°C all our coal-burning power stations need to be phased out by 2030.[4]
  • Australia has the potential to be completely powered by renewable energy.

The problem

Burning coal causes global warming, air pollution and health problems. Because our energy system is largely powered by coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, Australian per capita emissions remain among the highest in the world. No other developed country has such a polluting energy system.

The retirement of Hazelwood is just one of many examples of the world moving away from coal. In Australia, power station closures have so far remained business decisions. Without a government plan, many more of Australia’s old power stations may close without enough warning because of corporate decisions here or in other countries. This is unfair on affected communities that don’t then have time to prepare for a sustainable future..

It also doesn’t ensure that the energy transition towards clean energy sources happens fast enough. The lack of clear and stable policy to move away from coal, adapt our national energy market and support renewable energy is stifling investment in renewable energy.

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 – very close to the 1.5 degrees that is considered the maximum we can allow.

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’s time to act.

The Solution

We need a national plan to cut pollution and phase out coal. Right now the federal 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 for an orderly phase out of polluting coal power stations. It would fix our broken energy system and support the renewable energy revolution.

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 and other communities in coal regions.

Now that Hazelwood has closed, 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.


[1] The Climate Council: Australia’s Electricity Sector: Aging, Inefficient und Unprepared


[3], 3.1.2

[4] The Climate Institute, A Switch in Time: Enabling the electricity sector’s transition to net zero emissions, 2016,

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