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Second Reading: Beyond Coal Bill

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
19 August 2022

The Greens have a plan to replace coal with 100% renewable energy by 2030, while protecting workers and creating jobs.

 

This is the Second Reading Speech for the Energy Legislation Amendment (Transition from Coal) Bill 2022: 

The climate crisis is here, right now.

Europe is experiencing a summer of deadly heat waves and crippling droughts. Rivers in France are drying up. In India, temperatures have soared to a scorching 49 degrees celsius. Flooding in Bangladesh has caused hundreds of tragic deaths. The US is on fire at a scale never seen before. And closer to home, parts of NSW are under water, again. 

All of this is what the world is experiencing in one year, at “just” one degree of warming. Yet the world is on track to heat by 3-4 degrees celsius. This would be nothing short of catastrophic. 

While the climate crisis is truly terrifying, there is also hope. 

The problem we face is known. The solutions and technologies we need already exist. 

What we need is leadership.

Burning coal and gas is the single biggest cause of the climate crisis. Here in Victoria, we still get two thirds of our electricity from burning the world’s most polluting coal, brown coal in the Latrobe Valley. Coal is our state’s single biggest source of climate pollution. 

Leadership on climate means ending coal and replacing it with clean, renewable energy. 

On behalf of the Greens, I’m proud to introduce this Bill today to do exactly that.

This Bill sets a certain end date for coal burning in Victoria of 2030. It amends the Environment Protection Act 2017 such that all existing thermal coal activity will cease by 2030, and no new thermal coal activity can occur after this point. 

The Bill defines “thermal coal activity” as establishing, expanding, operating or modifying a coal mine or a coal fired power station. Handling, stockpiling, processing or transporting coal is also captured by the definition as is using coal for making hydrogen. The reality is, coal has to stay in the ground from 2030.

The Bill provides that where the Environmental Protection Agency has given a licence for thermal coal activity past 2030, such a licence will be revoked. From an abundance of caution the Bill also provides no compensation is payable to anyone as a result of a licence not being given or extended or revoked. In addition, this Bill also amends the Renewable Energy (Jobs and Investment) Act 2017 to increase Victoria’s renewable energy target to 100% by 2030.

I’m excited to introduce this Bill today. 

Victoria can and must be going further and faster on climate action, and this bill sets the legislative framework for doing so.

I’m equally excited to announce this Bill alongside a comprehensive policy plan from the Greens that outlines in detail how Victoria can transition from coal to renewables by 2030. 

No one expects the Loy Yang plants to last into the 2040s, or that Yallourn will really last until 2028. Yet by refusing to plan coal closure, Labor and the Liberals are leaving workers and the community at the mercy of corporate boardrooms and coal billionaires, who will abandon them when coal is no longer profitable.

The Greens are the only party right now being honest about the imminent closure of coal power plants.We are the only party outlining clear closure dates, in line with climate science, that also provides much needed certainty to workers, the community and renewable energy investors.

While the Bill sets an end date for coal of 2030, our plan spells out closure dates for Victoria’s remaining coal plants. Yallourn: 2024, Loy Yang: 2027 and Loy Yang B: 2030. The Greens are the only party with a plan to ensure coal workers and the Latrobe valley community are supported through coal closures. 

We are proposing a job guarantee for coal workers to ensure no one is worse off as a result of taking the climate action we must. The Greens are also proposing secure, long-term funding for an independent Latrobe Valley Authority out to 2035, to oversee a community-led economic transition for the region. 

There is so much potential for the Latrobe Valley beyond coal. There are huge opportunities for new jobs in offshore wind, clean manufacturing and mine rehabilitation. The Greens plan provides the funding certainty and independence the Latrobe Valley authority needs to realise this potential. 

And when it comes to replacing coal with 100% renewable energy, the great news is that it’s absolutely achievable. Scotland has made it, so have the ACT and Tasmania. SA is on track to meet its renewables target of 100% by 2030. 

So what does Victoria need? Right now we’re about one third powered by renewables, and credit to the current Labor government for laying this solid foundation. Now we need to scale up and go further and faster. That means more rooftop solar, more solar and wind across the state and realising the huge potential of offshore wind. It means batteries and storage of all shapes and sizes - big batteries, community batteries, household batteries, pumped hydro and electric vehicles as batteries. And it means upgrading our grid so it’s fit for the 21st century. We need new transmission lines, virtual power plants, micro grids and large industrial energy users balancing out our grid.

It’s critical that we bring communities on this journey with us, and that we safeguard the environment along the way. But if we can get this right, Victoria's renewable energy transition will deliver huge benefits to all Victorians. With a combination of private and public investment, we can begin to bring the energy system back into public hands. We can create tens of thousands of jobs and bring down bills. All while protecting us from the climate crisis of course.

So let’s do it. Let’s replace coal, get to 100% renewables and support workers and our communities along the way. 

I look forward to support from all representatives here when we debate this Bill in September. 

I commend the Bill to the house. 

 

Watch the Second Reading Speech on YouTube

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
19 August 2022
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