2Our Campaigns 1Safe Climate 0About Safe Climate A just transition away from coal

A just transition away from coal

Moving away from coal is urgent if we want to limit the damaging impact of global warming. But to do justice to local communities we need to transition to a pollution free society in a way that is sustainable and fair.

What is a just transition?

A just transition means moving to a new economy that can cut greenhouse pollution and withstand the effects of climate change in a way that is fair for the affected communities.

It recognises that people in coal communities face serious economic consequences if the transition to new energy is poorly managed.

The concept of ‘just transition’ recognises that we need to ensure distribution of the costs and benefits of acting to protect our environment. And the people affected need to be part of developing the solutions that will determine their future wellbeing and that of their families.

Environment Victoria CEO, Mark Wakeham, speaking at the 'Beyond Haxelwood' forum at the 2017 Sustainable Living Festival

At the 2017 Sustainable Living Festival CEO Mark Wakeham joined Mark Richards (a former worker at Hazelwood power station), Olivia Kember (head of Policy at The Climate Institute) and Ben Davison (Chief of Staff at the ACTU) for the ‘Beyond hazelwood’ panel discussion. Mark explained how nine coal-burning power stations have already closed in the past five years, and how the lack of a nation plan to transition from coal is letting down workers and communities.

What does this mean for the Latrobe Valley?

The Latrobe Valley has been powering Victoria’s energy needs for generations.

Most of Victoria’s electricity and half our greenhouse pollution comes from the Latrobe Valley. Shifting Victoria from coal to clean, renewable energy will have significant consequences for the people in the Latrobe Valley.

But while the Latrobe Valley has been shaped by brown coal, in the words of Latrobe City Mayor Michael Rossiter:

“Our community is much more than that. Our community is innovative, connected; it’s tough, resilient, determined……. The transition away from brown coal is not the thing that we fear. What we fear is being abandoned. It is the leaving behind of an industry which directly employs hundreds and indirectly employs thousands without anything else to go to.”[1]

The Latrobe Valley community deserves a plan for an orderly and phased transition away from coal, which safeguards the future health and prosperity of the community.

To meet Victoria’s greenhouse pollution reduction targets, all brown coal must be phased out by 2050.

The best way to do this for the climate and for communities is to plan to phase out all four generators much sooner than that.

And to avoid the harm of a rapid economic change caused by market-led decisions, real progress towards developing a new economy in the Latrobe Valley needs to be made now – to ensure the new industries which will provide future employment and businesses opportunities are in place by the time the power stations close.

‘Meet the Latrobe Valley locals embracing clean energy’ >> 
Click here to read more in our blog post

In November 2016, French company ENGIE the majority owners of Hazelwood announced that the power station would close in March 2017. Instead of a carefully planned closure with new industry and jobs investment already in place, this decision was made by the market.

Now we need a national plan to phase out coal and support affected communities.

What does Environment Victoria do to support just transition?

Environment Victoria works with local people in the Latrobe Valley to promote a just transition. We support local groups to reach out to the wider community, to ensure a diverse cross section of the community is engaged in the transition process.

In addition to running a number of community discussions on renewable energy and just transitions in the Latrobe Valley, we have produced a report, Life After Coal, to help drive the developments of environmentally sustainable local industries. And, ahead of the 2018 Victorian election, we have produced a list of policy priorities which outlines five clear and achievable steps to bring the clean energy boom to the Latrobe Valley.

Read the ‘Life After Coal’ report

In any Just Transition local leadership and ownership of new projects and ideas are essential. So in October 2016 we organised a doorknocking day, and with the help of local groups and volunteers, conducted a survey to develop a Community Vision for the Valley. Click the image below to see the results.

A Community Vision for the Latrobe Valley

[1] http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/dont-keep-us-in-dark-on-coal-closures-says-latrobe-valley/news-story/1ceaa77fb1a6506f845df6bc2bbff8ae


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