Climate change is real. It’s impacting our lives and environment today, and it will impact us into the future. We must take action to protect our environment, strengthen our resilience to the changes and do what we can to repair the damage.
We all remember the tragedy of the 2019-2020 bushfires. As the Royal Commission reported, in the future, natural disasters will become more complex, more unpredictable, and more difficult to manage. It is likely that we will see multiple disasters on a national scale. We need to restore our damaged environments, rebuild the infrastructure and buildings that we lost, and be better prepared for the future.
As the Royal Commission outlined, there is a broad range of work to be done in land-use planning, infrastructure, emergency management, social policy, agriculture, education, health, community development, energy and the environment. There is work to be done to implement these recommendations, to improve our resilience, and to be better prepared. So far, disappointingly, the Federal Government has not accepted the recommendation of the Royal Commission to instate a national aerial fire-fighting fleet, but I am not giving up the fight on this - sign up to support my campaign!
We must make sure the Government acts on bushfire preparedness, and that the changes are properly implemented as soon as we can.
Net Zero by 2050
The Federal Government refuses to commit to ‘net zero by 2050’, making us a pariah on the international stage. Without a clear plan with measurable objectives and a commitment to implement it, ‘net zero by 2050’ is a pipe dream. Australia does not have a plan and we need one as a matter of urgency. We need a plan that is clear about our country’s path forward and that allows stakeholders to get onboard and help us act now.
SA has been a leader in the adoption of renewable energy. However, the SA grid, like the grids in other jurisdictions, requires upgrades to maximise the gains from the existing smaller scale rooftop solar systems and the large-scale renewable sources, such as solar and wind farms. Greater investment in renewable energy systems, generation and storage, will create the momentum we need to make these upgrades. Australia could be a global leader in renewables, but this opportunity is slipping away as we drag our heels through varying state-based models with no national plan. The Federal Government is hiding behind the ‘net zero by 2050’ slogan and avoiding setting a national agenda for renewable energy in fear of offending fossil fuel suppliers.
Car manufacturers are phasing out internal combustion engine vehicles and switching to EVs – the transport of the future. Take up of EVs in Australia has been slow and Governments at all levels have a responsibility to assist with this transition, setting the right environment and addressing barriers. In early 2019, the Federal Government announced it was developing a National EV Policy, but this policy still hasn’t been released, which is a gross failure to both the Australian people and the future transport industry. We need to get in the race, build the necessary infrastructure, encourage businesses to be part of the global EV supply chain, and ensure Australia is not just a consumer but also a producer.
Access to electricity has changed our lives. Now, advances in technology are changing the way we produce it and will change the way we access it. The increase in people looking for cheap power and the desire to break away from fossil fuel power stations is raising interest in the development of local and micro grids, with localised generation, storage and distribution systems. We need to be planning and preparing for these micro grids.
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
"Australia’s natural environment and iconic places are in an overall state of decline and are under increasing threat.”
This was a finding by Professor Graeme Samuel AC in his Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The EPBC Act is an ineffective piece of legislation that is supposed to provide the mechanisms for environmental protection. Professor Samuel’s clear recommendations to the Act aim to enhance the protection of the environment and establish the trust that is sadly missing in both the community and in industry. Nothing we’ve seen from the Government so far demonstrates a real commitment to properly implementing these changes. We need to develop and put in place new binding and enforceable National Environmental Standards. The EPBC Act needs to be overhauled. It’s in our interest to do so and I’m pushing the Government to do this and do it properly.
In Australia, we have the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which are Government backed investment organisations that focus on clean energy and renewable energy. These government entities are not the only sources of investment - the private sector, equity funds and investment funds are also viable sources, but they need an environment that provides future investment stability.
The Government has an obligation to create and sustain this environment, which may mean long term plans, backed by policy and appropriate legislation. But unfortunately, the Morrison Government has tried to change the legislation and have CEFC and ARENA funding going to their mates in the fossil fuel sectors. I am fighting to turn this around and encourage investment in clean energy!
What can we do?
- Improve our emergency preparedness
- Establish a sovereign aerial fire-fighting fleet
- Develop the national plan to achieve the net zero by 2050
- Encourage infrastructure changes to maximise the utilisation of renewable energy
- Encourage the take up of EVs
- Build the National EV fast charging network
- Overhaul the EPBC Act and develop new National Environmental Standards to strengthen protection of our environment
- Stop ARENA’s charter being skewed to allow investment in fossil fuel-based technologies