It’s easier to imagine a transition to a renewable economy, if we can see what that looks like in action. So we decided to take a select group of journalists to the UK and Germany, to learn from the clean energy revolution already underway, and to bring those stories back home to Australia.
The UK and Germany are miles ahead on climate action
Throughout the trip, the thing that struck the journalists the most was how far ahead the UK and Germany are on climate action and policy compared to Australia. Over the past 10 years, the UK and Germany have made significant progress transitioning away from fossil fuels into renewable energy. While Australia has been an international laggard with no credible climate policy to speak of at present.
Off the coast of England, the journalists saw huge wind turbines embedded in the deep; rode electric black cabs and bright red electric buses through the streets of London, and set foot in German towns that are leading the transition from coal to renewables.
Climate change policies receive bipartisan support in the UK
In the UK, the science of climate change enjoys bipartisan support, which has been brilliant for business and investment, because a change of government doesn’t equate to a rewriting of the rules. This support from both sides of politics has also paved the way for tangible action to tackle the climate crisis.
And recently, Great Britain went two weeks without using coal to generate electricity – the longest period since the 1880s. Records like this are set to become the norm, as it transitions to renewables.
Germany shows us what a just transition away from coal really looks like
While Germany, recognising the need to transition away from fossil fuels, also acknowledges the importance of involving everyone in the process. The last black coal mine closed in December 2018, after a decades-long process. In that time, nobody was made forcibly redundant. Instead, miners were offered generous early retirement packages or the opportunity to re-skill. And this year, Germany committed to closing its brown coal mines by 2038.
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Telling positive stories to show Australians what’s possible
It’s real stories like these which can change the course of our future here on home soil. And we need to learn from them, if we’re going to bring everyone along with us in creating an Australia powered by clean energy.
These stories have now been seen by 1.6 million people (and growing), and have been covered by The Australian to the SMH, The Today Show and Radio National.
These stories are already making a local impact
Journalist and trip attendee, Nick O’Malley, recently published a widely read piece in the Sun-Herald and Sunday Age, titled, How Germany closed its coal industry without sacking a single miner. Following its publication, the NSW parliament announced an inquiry aimed at setting a ‘responsible road map’ out of coal and into clean energy. The inquiry will look at the full picture, including NSW’s energy needs, the economic opportunities of renewable energy, and supporting communities to adapt.
It’s clear that momentum is building around the conversation we need to have.
A snapshot of some of the media headlines produced by the journalists that came on the Climate Council’s trip to the UK and Germany.
This is Australia’s “fork in the road” moment.
Either we plan for the inevitable transformation, like Germany, or we remain in denial until our future is changed for us.
Will you join us in fighting for an Australia with imagination and decisive leadership on climate action?
Night and Day: Australia and the UK’s Response to Climate Change
VIDEO: The UK’s answer to energy is blowing in the wind