Members statement: Transition away from fossil fuels
Over the last two weeks the future of Australia’s coal-fired power stations has become clearer. They are closing down—and closing down earlier than governments had planned for because the need to act on climate change and the rapid uptake of renewables are putting these old carbon-polluting behemoths out of business. Origin recently announced that Australia’s biggest coal-fired power station, Eraring in New South Wales, is to close seven years earlier, by 2025. This is on the back of announcements about Liddell, set to close in 2023, and Bayswater in 2033. Here in Victoria both Yallourn and Loy Yang A will close four years earlier and three years earlier respectively than previously thought, if not sooner.
It is welcome news for our climate that energy companies are reading the writing on the wall and also necessary if we are to have any chance of limiting global warming enough to avoid catastrophic climate events and ecological devastation. But there is a catch with this news, and that is that this time line of transition out of fossil fuels is being led by big corporations instead of by governments, because our governments in this country have failed to plan the transition, including here in Victoria. The Australian Energy Market Operator predicts that most of Australia’s 20 coal plants will close in the next 15 years, but here in Victoria we are living with a fantasy of burning coal until 2048 and gas forever. This week we saw a radical proposal by tech billionaires and corporations to buy coal plants to accelerate our climate action, but we have to ask ourselves: how did we get to this? Those companies and billionaires cannot plan the transition for workers and communities most impacted by climate change, but governments can and governments must.