Catastrophic bushfires and floods, blistering heatwaves and more severe drought. Australia is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and burning coal is the single biggest cause of this damage to our climate.
The good news is that renewable energy is here and ready to replace coal as a source of clean, affordable and reliable energy. Already a quarter of our electricity comes from renewable sources.
To protect our communities and avoid the worst impacts of damage to our climate, we need to close all coal-burning power stations in the next decade and replace them with clean energy sources like solar, wind and batteries.
Burning coal is the single largest contributor to climate pollution in Australia, responsible for more than a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions. And, because they burn brown coal, Victoria has the dirtiest power stations in the country. Together they spew out nearly 40 percent of the state’s climate pollution.
They’re also the biggest single source of toxic pollutants like sulphur dioxide, fine particles (PM2.5) and mercury. This has a very real impact on our environment and health. The first peer-reviewed study of the health impacts of coal-burning power in Australia found that air pollution from Victorian coal power stations cause 205 premature deaths, 259 low birthweight babies, and 4,376 children with asthma each year. Toxic coal ash, from poorly managed dams, is also leaching into the Latrobe Valley’s groundwater, with potential health impacts for decades to come.
Rapid and deep cuts to climate pollution are crucial to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change and replacing our dirty brown coal with clean energy and storage solutions in the next decade is the most effective way for Victoria to do our fair share in tackling emissions.
The good news is that reaching 100% renewable energy in Victoria in the next few years is not only achievable, the switch to clean energy and exports can bring thousands of future-proof jobs.
To replace our coal-burning power stations with clean energy like wind and solar, we need swift and smart government action.
We’ve seen how emission reduction targets and other state government policies have driven a huge surge in renewable energy. In 2019-20, 25% of Victoria’s electricity came from clean energy sources and in 2021 the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) predicted that all coal power stations in Victoria are likely to close before 2032.
To continue this progress and ensure Victoria isn’t left behind, our federal and state governments need to set more ambitious 2030 targets for cuts to emissions and for renewable energy, to provide the stability and incentive for investment. Our leaders must stop subsidising fossil fuel companies companies and support communities in regions like the Latrobe Valley to build a vibrant future beyond coal.
EnergyAustralia has a long history of sabotaging climate action and weakening policy for their own self-interest and profits. And they’re at it again.