By Zianna Fuad
Last year was the world's hottest year on record ‒ even without an El Nino boost. And seven of Australia's ten warmest years have occurred since 2005. We need to act quickly to limit our greenhouse emissions and reduce the disastrous effects of climate change.
This year we have an opportunity to do just that. Victoria will set its first legally-binding Emission Reduction Target (ERT). Victoria will set six interim targets between now and reaching the final target of 0% by 2050, and this is the first legally-binding one.
Ambitious targets are essential in driving the transition away from coal to renewable energy. Thanks to the Climate Change Act 2017, each target has to be more ambitious than the last to ensure a downward trend to the final target of 0% by 2050. This means this first target is really important. The more ambitious it is, the more ambitious each target that follows will have to be.
The Victorian government lucked out ‒ the current target, a reduction of 15‒20%, has already been met because of the closure of the Hazelwood coal power station last year. But the government can't continue relying on privately-owned companies closing power stations to cut greenhouse emissions. The government must take bold initiatives to get this state to net 0% emissions to safeguard the future health and prosperity of Victorian communities. Most importantly, the Latrobe Valley community deserves a plan for a transition away from coal that ensures they have long-term job security and a thriving community.
Polling by Friends of the Earth in 2016 showed a large majority, 70% of respondents, want the Victorian government to commit to major reductions in our state's greenhouse pollution.
We acknowledge the Andrews government's actions so far on climate change. They've set the Victorian Renewable Energy Target, strengthened the Climate Change Act and legislated a permanent ban on unconventional gas. But they can't stop now. The lack of federal government leadership means that states must ramp up measures to rapidly reduce greenhouse pollution and transition our economy away from our current reliance on coal.
In the heat of the election year, the state Liberals are talking nothing on climate policy ‒ do they even have one? Meanwhile, they loudly call for new coal power stations and extensions for coal licenses. They are in opposition now, but could be in power within a year. We need both parties if we want to be a leader in climate action.
There's no more time to defer strong climate action. We want the Andrews government to continue to prove its climate credentials and make Victoria's ERT significantly more ambitious than the national targets. We have the technology, we just need to political will, and for that we need you.
The review will be open to public submissions. Once open ‒ we encourage you to send in a submission and use this opportunity to share your vision for Victoria's low-emission, safe-climate future. Keep an eye on the Quit Coal facebook page and the Act On Climate page for more on ERTs and submission alerts.
Published in Chain Reaction #132, April 2018. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia.