Yes we can – zero carbon emissions within 10 years in Australia. Guest blogger: Ann Long

On Wednesday 6th November Kiama’s Ss Peter and Paul Social Justice Group, together with Transition Towns Kiama, hosted a presentation by Gillian King from Beyond Zero Emissions, which explained a fully costed blue-print for Australia’s transition to 100% renewable energy.

Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), a not-for-profit research and education organisation, together with the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute, developed the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan. 

The Plan was launched in 2010 and was fully costed, at $8.00 per household per week, with implementation over 10 years. The plan details the commercially available renewable energy technology plus the infrastructure that would be needed to replace all fossil fuel generated electricity in Australia within 10 years.  The plan depends on 3 components: – 12 Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Stations, Wind Turbine sources and improved infrastructure using High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) to transport current over long distances.

With the publication of the most recent Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concern about our carbon emissions has increased and action is urgent.

The latest policy report from the World Wildlife Fund – Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, defines Australia’s “carbon budget”.  WWF – Australia commissioned “Ecofys” to assess what would be a reasonable and credible contribution from Australia towards the international goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius. Expressed as a “carbon budget” Australia has “spent” two thirds of its carbon emission allocation for the period 2013 to 2100.  With business as usual Australia will have spent the lot within a decade.

Australia’s existing unconditional goal of reducing emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 falls far short of a credible contribution.  Contrary to often stated opinion that “Australia must not do anything until big polluting countries move” China, the world’s largest emitter, and Australia’s largest trading partner, has agreed to reduce the emissions intensity of its economy by 40-45% by 2020.  Other countries, Japan, South Korea and the UK have all committed to emission reduction targets of 25% or more below 2000 levels by 2020.  Germany has set a target of 45% reduction in emissions below 1990 levels by 2020 and 95% by 2050.  Germany is not famous for its long bouts of solar exposure!  The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan provides a way forward for Australia to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 25% by 2020.  The Plan also details job provision, essential as our trading partners reduce their demand for and importation of fossil fuels.

Australia has a natural advantage in sources of renewable energy and can position itself as a global renewable energy power for future prosperity, at the same time ensuring national energy security.  Abundant solar energy falling on Australia’s centre could prove to be Australia’s greatest resource.

Once again nuclear power is being raised.  It is not renewable, more expensive, and would take longer to implement than the proposed The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan

There is increasing anxiety within the local community about Coal Seam Gas Extraction (CSG).  The 100% renewable energy plan provides a constructive way forward for the community to support alternative policies, avoiding CSG.

The plan is clear, affordable and doable.  It needs commitment from our policy makers with community backing.

The Kiama Social Justice Group and Transition Towns’ goal was to provide accurate information for the community and a knowledge base for the community to argue the case with the policy makers for a carbon emission free Australia.

The Kiama meeting was advertised widely – in local newspapers, through ecumenical groups, Landcare groups, the small farms network and in the local businesses of Kiama, Gerringong and Berry.  The Federal MP Ann Sudmalis, and the state MP Gareth Ward were invited but were unable to attend.  The Mayor of Kiama was away and 2 Kiama Councillors did attend.

Agnotology is the study of the cultural production of ignorance and doubt.  The outcomes of deliberate cultivation of ignorance and doubt are alive and well in our community.  “The Merchants of Doubt” (Oreskes and Conway) details the powerful vested interests at work in attempting to ensure that little action is taken about climate change.  They have described how some of the same organisations and people, who were part of the tobacco companies’ campaign, are around again in this campaign of creating doubt about the science of climate change.  The Illawarra is home to coal mining and the steel works, so change is threatening to both companies and employees.

Still, 72 people turned up to the meeting.  The group was surprising for its enthusiasm and engagement.  The formal presentation was followed by another hour of questions and discussion and finally a short summary of some local power generation initiatives.

There was lamentation that there were few “young” persons present and a general despair about what to do next.  Many in the group will turn out for CLIMATE CATCH UP on 17th November.

There seems to still be reluctance for some to write or visit their local state and federal representatives.

Is the next move a series of deputations?

 

 

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