States and territories lead way on renewables, climate

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A snapshot of the renewables action happening across Australia shows states and territories blitzing the field, in spite of current federal inaction.

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We Aussies love our sport. And with our boundless sunny plains and breezy hills, making us one of the sunniest and windiest places in the world; we love our renewables, too. So, why not combine the two in a bit of cheeky competition?

The Climate Council has released its fourth scorecard that measures state and territory progress on renewable energy.

States and territories are judged on a range of criteria, such as how much renewable energy they generate, the proportion of houses with solar, whether they have renewable energy targets, or plans to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

Federal climate and energy policy has made so many false starts this year that it’s out of the race altogether.

Instead, it’s Australia’s states and territories who have seized the baton and taken the lead in the national renewables relay.

Our new report provides a snapshot of renewables action happening all across Australia’s states and territories, in spite of current federal inaction:

1. A whopping 69 wind and solar plants are under construction in Australia right now, creating almost 10,000 jobs in the renewable energy industry. All up, this will add almost seven times more energy capacity than the now closed Hazelwood coal power station.

2. Not counting Western Australia, all states and territories have now committed to renewable energy and/or net zero emissions targets.

3. And in Queensland, the aptly named ‘sunshine state’, 33% of all households have rooftop solar, closely followed by South Australia, at 32%. SA is also on track for 73% renewable energy in just two short years.

Federally, Australia still isn’t doing enough when it comes to tackling greenhouse gas pollution.

Based on our current track record, it doesn’t even look like we’ll meet our woefully low emissions reduction target of 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

And as the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report has warned us, we need a tremendous global effort to keep temperature rise below 1.5˚C, wind back worsening extreme weather events aggravated by climate change, and protect lives and livelihoods now, and tomorrow.

Which is why we have to keep our eyes on the prize. Focus on the victories to be had. And never settle for second best.

Here are a few more stats from the report:

– Tasmania, ACT and SA are equal winners of this year’s renewables race, across a range of renewable energy measures – based on each state’s proportion of renewable energy, wind and solar capacity per capita, proportion of households with solar, and renewable energy targets and policies.

– Western Australia, the Northern Territory and New South Wales are lagging behind the other states and territories.

– Western Australia’s share of renewable energy is low, however the state has the third highest proportion of households with rooftop solar.

– The Northern Territory has a low share of renewable electricity and solar households, but is set to implement its plan to reach 50% renewable energy by 2030.

– New South Wales does not have a renewable energy target and has no plan to replace its ageing and unreliable coal power stations.

– With the exception of Western Australia, all states and territories have committed to renewable energy targets and/or net zero emissions targets.

– South Australia continues to have the largest amount of installed wind and solar capacity (1,831MW), closely followed by New South Wales (1,759MW) and Victoria (1,634MW). On a per capita basis, South Australia, the ACT and Tasmania are the leaders.

– Queensland and South Australia have the highest proportion of households with rooftop solar, at 32.9% and 32.3% respectively. Western Australia is in third place with 26.7% of households with rooftop solar.

– Queensland has more renewable energy projects under construction than any other state.

–Almost 10,000 jobs are being created in the renewable energy industry across Australia with 69 wind and solar plants under construction. Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales are home to the vast majority of these projects.

– South Australia has at least eight new projects under construction and is on track for 73% renewable electricity in just two years.

– More solar PV capacity was added around the world than coal, gas and nuclear combined. Almost three-quarters of new energy generation capacity added globally was renewable in 2017.

– Electricity generation from coal and gas fell for the fifth consecutive year.

– Approximately 17 countries generated more than 90% of their electricity with renewable energy in 2017. Australia was not one of them.

This is an edited extract of the Climate Council’s Powering Progress: States renewable energy race report.

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