1Our Campaigns 0Safe Climate Yallourn, Australia’s dirtiest power

Yallourn, Australia's dirtiest power

Yallourn is a coal-burning power station in Victoria. It produces the most climate pollution per unit of energy of any power station in the country.

The climate crisis is already hurting Victorians.

Extreme bushfires, floods, prolonged drought and heatwaves are affecting the way we live and work. In January 2018 Bendigo experienced 12 consecutive days over 35°C, breaking the previous record of eight days set in 2014. If we don’t act with speed and scale, events like this will become even more common and more extreme.

Burning coal is Australia’s biggest source of damaging climate pollution.

In 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned we have less than 12 years to make rapid changes if we want to keep global temperatures at a safe level. So to protect our communities and avoid the worst impacts of climate damage, we need to close all of Australia’s coal-burning power stations by 2030.

The dirtiest power station of them all is Yallourn in Victoria.

The frequency of extreme heat events is increasing

Source: Bureau of Meteorology, 'State of the Climate 2018', p.4

Key Facts

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  • Burning coal is the biggest source of climate pollution in Australia
  • Victoria’s three coal-burning power stations in the Latrobe Valley produce 40 percent of the state’s climate pollution1
  • Yallourn produces the dirtiest energy in the country, with an emissions intensity of over 1.34 tCO2-e/MWh2
  • Each year, Yallourn emits up to 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution, making it responsible for 13 percent of Victoria’s emissions3
  • The fastest way to cut climate pollution is to stop burning coal

Yallourn power station is producing the dirtiest energy in the country

It’s the most carbon intensive power station in Australia, with an emissions intensity of over 1.34 tCO2-e/MWh.

Each year, Yallourn emits up to 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution, making it responsible for 13 percent of Victoria’s emissions. Combined with the other two brown coal power stations and some gas power, electricity generation is responsible for almost 40 percent of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Phasing out coal burning power is the fastest way to reduce climate pollution

In 2018,  when the IPCC warned that we have less than 11 years to prevent the worst impacts of global warming, scientists analysed a number of possible pathways for limiting warming to less than 1.5 degrees.4 Almost every scenario requires developed countries like Australia to have stopped burning coal by the year 2030.

Victoria must heed this warning if we hope to protect ourselves from the climate crisis. State government data released in 2018 shows that while Victoria is on track to reach its 2020 greenhouse gas target of a 15-20 percent reduction on 2005 levels, 75 percent of avoided emissions are due to the retirement of Hazelwood power station.6 In total across other sectors, emissions have decreased by only 1 percent, with some sectors increasing.7

This is because shifting from coal to renewables is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to reduce Victoria’s climate pollution. While we need to develop solutions across the economy, it is critical that we immediately develop plans to phase out Yallourn and the other brown coal power stations, while looking after workers and the community nearby.

We need to start right now by phasing out the oldest and dirtiest power stations – like Yallourn – paving the way for a 100 percent renewable energy grid no later than 2030. Energy Australia has now done a deal with the Victorian government to close Yallourn no later than 2028. But that still leaves the incredibly polluting Loy Yang A & B operating well into the 2040s. The Victorian government needs to move faster on the energy transition if it wants to keep up with the global pace on climate action.


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  1. http://ageis.climatechange.gov.au/
  2. Clean Energy Regulator data
  3. http://ageis.climatechange.gov.au/
  4. https://www.ipcc.ch/
  5. https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/18866/a_coal_phase_out_pathway/?_ga=2.126047757.1637404525.1557815536-592753461.1553564759
  6. https://environmentvictoria.org.au/2019/03/08/briefing-paper-on-victorias-emissions-data/
  7. https://environmentvictoria.org.au/2019/03/08/briefing-paper-on-victorias-emissions-data/