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Royal Commission: It's time to tackle global warming by decarbonising our electricity system

The findings of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements make it clear that global warming was a key contributor to the most devastating and catastrophic fires in Australia’s history. This should serve as a wakeup call for Australia to take meaningful action to reduce our emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels. The quickest, easiest and cheapest way to begin this process is by decarbonising our electricity system through a massive deployment of renewable energy.

Electricity generation is Australia’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and taking action now to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future will lessen the volatility in our climate. Australia continues to be a leading exporter of coal and gas. Given the damage these fossil fuels have on the environment, biodiversity and our everyday lives, the findings of the Royal Commission and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the urgent need to shift our attention to becoming a clean energy superpower.

Australia needs a more resilient energy system, and one with more distributed generation – rooftop solar and batteries – removing the reliance on a network which in the vast majority of cases is the point of failure in providing reliable power, particularly during bushfires and other natural disasters.

Renewables can also be mobilised extraordinarily quickly, and the Clean Energy Council encourages disaster response strategies to incorporate rapid renewable and battery deployment as part of recovery efforts.

The Clean Energy Council continues to lobby federal and state governments to urgently remove the legal barriers preventing the use of microgrids and off-grid systems for bushfire recovery, which would deliver huge savings on the investment needed for network replacement and maintenance, while also delivering local jobs in installation and maintenance. The Australian Energy Market Commission has spent several years considering whether it should allow this. Under the current rules, distribution network service providers are prevented from using microgrids. They are instead required to continue using thousands of kilometres of expensive and dangerous poles and wires, which are heavily cross-subsidised by all electricity customers.

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Meteorology reiterated its modelling in Senate estimates that Australia is on track to warm by 4.4°C. Such forecasts increase the risk of the extreme weather that results in catastrophic bushfires like Australia experienced last spring and summer. The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements heard that global warming beyond the next 20 to 30 years is largely dependent on the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions. Now is the time to act by embracing clean energy.


ENDS

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Jane Aubrey
Clean Energy Council Media Manager
[email protected]
+61 409 470 683