What Australia’s coal regions need is visionary leadership at a national level. Fossil fuel producing regions are looking for honest conversations in safe spaces as Scott Morrison tours the country as a bust made of coal.
A report published today by Next Economy has found that attitudes in coal producing areas of Australia have changed markedly in the last couple of years. The energy transition is now seen as inevitable. Influencing factors have included announcements about the earlier than expected closure of power plants, announcements made at COP26 by Australia’s energy trading partners, severe weather events, and the ramp up of green energy and other renewable projects.
There has been a decrease in skepticism and a willingness to look at plans to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The issues are, there is no Federal plan and there is a lot of misinformation out there.
At a recent summit in Gladstone, participants expressed fear that their jobs were under threat. It was not just those whose direct jobs are in the fossil fuel industry, as public servants were also worried that they would face retribution from their political masters. Small business owners didn’t want to lose customers by appearing to be too green.
The CEO of a major energy company resigned after making a statement at the conference. Another attendee commented: “Most people are wanting to openly discuss the issues we face and to collaborate on the solutions going forward. But the lesson is to find a safe way for all people to present their views… The consequence for some individuals was quite drastic. Just shows today’s society struggles with the truth.”
Experts at the conference were able to explain the jobs that would be available under a green economy. There was a call for greater leadership from the Federal Government. Participants as the Federal government to:
- Stop denying that the energy system is changing and be open and honest about what this means for regional Australia.
- Develop a clear and detailed plan, with appropriate targets, policies and regulatory frameworks to guide investment and action.
- Protect and strengthen democracy.
This is what Australia’s coal regions need.
The report concludes that Australia (and the world) is in a convergence of “multiple social, economic, technological and environmental change.” It is a time of great risk, but if managed well, it could be a time of great reward.
“It’s time to move past the petty politics that has defined the last decade of climate and energy policy and fix our collective gaze firmly on the road ahead as we navigate the path to net zero emissions. We have everything we need to manage this change well. The only thing missing is clear and decisive leadership at a national level.”
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