Four Corners Report Shows Climate Change Concerns Heating Up Ahead Of Federal Election

Energy Matters

Pre-election climate and energy battles are reaching a critical stage ahead of May’s federal poll.
This week’s ABC Four Corners documentary showed experts weighing in over the best way to tackle climate change and spiralling energy prices.
The point was made that Australia is well-positioned to take advantage of renewable energy.
However, Franck Woitiez, managing director of renewable energy company Neoen, highlighted the uncertainty caused by the lack of a national policy on renewable energy promotion.

Energy battles over rising carbon emissions
Global temperatures may reach three times more than pre-industrial levels the documentary reported.
Damaging greenhouse gases will transform the Australian continent if  we can’t peg our damaging greenhouse gas emissions.
As a result, climate change will transform the Australian continent. That’s the verdict of leading scientist and policy analyst Dr Bill Hare. He says summers will be a time to fear, particularly around the southern coastline.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison insists Australia will meet its Paris obligations “at a canter”. This means reducing emissions by 26 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030.
Yet Shadow Climate Change Minister Mark Butler says carbon emissions have risen steadily since the Coalition came to office. Government figures from December 2018 show Australia’s emissions in 2030 will be only 7 per cent below 2005 levels. The political energy battles look ready to continue past the next election and into the 2020s.

Electric car and energy battleground set for May election
Most of Australia’s emissions come from four areas – transport, industry, agriculture and electricity. Transport makes up close to 20 per cent with nearly half of this coming from cars.
Despite this, Stephen Lester of Nissan Australia says the company has delayed rolling out the latest and much-anticipated new LEAF EV because of poor demand.
Lack of government direction and support means Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world in the EV transition.
Behyad Jafari of the Electric Vehicle Council told the program Australia has only 7,000 EVs on the roads. There are also fewer than 800 EV charging stations across the country.
In February the Coalition released a general EV policy which pushed policy detail back to 2020. This week, Labor Leader Bill Shorten also proposed tax breaks to ensure 50 per cent of Australia’s cars will be electric by 2030.

Managing new wave of renewable energy 
Professor Frank Jotzo of the Australian National University told Four Corners the cost of  renewables like wind and solar panels has consistently fallen.
As a result, home solar battery systems can also be used to charge electric cars and support the growing EV industry.
However, wind and solar farms are not always close to existing transmission lines. Because of this, Australia needs new transmission infrastructure, according to Jotzo, although few agree on where this should go and who pays for it.
Paul Italiano, CEO of Transgrid, says the shift to renewables has happened very quickly. The demand to hook new clean energy sources to the grid is therefore exceeding grid capacity.
Both major parties should commit to upgrading the grid, he says. This will help manage growing renewable supply.


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