Your Webinar Questions Answered

06.06.19 By

Following the election, we held a community webinar to reflect, discuss the issues that are on our mind and our ideas for the path ahead.

We’ve compiled some of the most commonly asked questions, and added our responses below.

Climate Solutions and Action

Do you think more renewable energy industries should be developed in Queensland to address the real concern of miners there to have jobs? Just negating mines doesn’t work. We should be creating new jobs for miners.

We couldn’t agree more. In 2017 we published this report outlining the opportunities in the renewable energy industry for Queensland. As we consider our strategy going forward, we will look at updating these figures and ways to distribute this information to Queenslanders.

Is the Climate Council able to contribute to the development of a transition strategy for adapting the management of our energy grids and energy market to ensure grid stability as renewables increase?  For example, ensuring there’s enough firming power.

Forecasting and planning the transition in the electricity sector is complex and this work is being led by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). They have produced a comprehensive roadmap called the Integrated System Plan (which will be updated at the end of this year) to facilitate the transition in Australia’s electricity sector, including investments in new generation, firming power requirements, new transmission and market rule changes.

The Climate Council has communicated the opportunities and challenges that are occurring in this transition to the public and policy makers through our work such as the Fully Charged: Renewables and Storage Powering Australia and Powering a 21st Century Economy: Secure, Clean, Affordable Electricity. We will continue to produce reports on the transition that is occurring, as well as writing submissions and engaging stakeholders in the industry.

How do we support the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners in their battle with Adani?

The Stop Adani movement has indicated that they are working closely with the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners in their battle against Adani. Their appeals were heard in the Federal court on 27 and 28 May.

To learn more about and support their fight, head to https://wanganjagalingou.com.au/

Does the Climate Council support a price on carbon?

The Climate Council’s focus is on driving down greenhouse gas emissions – we seek to articulate a range of solutions rather than supporting just one approach. A price on carbon is one approach, supported by many economists, that could achieve this outcome. Other approaches include holding a series of reverse auctions, whereby renewable energy developers bid for contracts to affordably supply electricity (as has occurred in Victoria and the ACT), or a policy like a renewable energy target that forces power companies to purchase a certain proportion of their demand from renewable energy. There are many potential policies that can help reduce emissions –  a carbon price may be the most cost-effective but it is not the only option.

What kind of pressure can be applied directly to power generators to build renewables instead of coal? Why are they waiting for investment indicators from the Government?

Power companies are usually not inclined to build new generation as it reduces electricity prices and therefore makes their existing generators less profitable. Government policies are therefore required to increase the amount of renewable energy in the grid.

This can take the form of reverse auctions, whereby renewable energy developers bid for contracts to affordably supply electricity (as has occurred in Victoria and the ACT), or a policy that forces power companies to purchase a certain proportion of their demand from renewable energy, such as the Federal Government’s renewable energy target (which will be met in 2020).

Did any party have adequate policies?

Prior to the election, our team provided an overview of the climate and energy policies of the three major parties. You can access it here.

Communicating Climate Change

How can scientists and facts influence the agenda when the government ignores them?

By educating the Australian public and media about climate change, we can in turn influence the positions and decisions of politicians on climate change. While the Federal government has not implemented policies that are science based, there is substantial progress at a local and state level and in major businesses.

Our strategy at the Climate Council is to use many authoritative voices, including our scientists, to communicate the facts to the Australian public. These voices also include those with direct/lived experience or expertise such as farmers around the country who are experiencing the worst drought of their lifetime. It could be older Australians whose health is impacted by extreme heatwaves and who can’t afford to turn their air conditioning on. It could be tourism operators on the Great Barrier Reef who are concerned about their livelihoods should further damage to the reef occur.

We need to match the facts and findings of scientists with the voices and stories of the many Australians who are directly experiencing the impacts of climate change.

On reflection do you think the Adani protest was counterproductive? What is the right way to get people on side?

Many Australians have been deeply concerned about climate change and inaction by our country for some time. They have taken personal steps, in their own lives, to try to make a difference and they have also been active in trying to influence family and friends, as well as their broader community and decision-makers.

For that group of people, the urgency of the climate crisis is immediate, and they are looking for ways in which they can ramp things up.

There is another group of Australians, however, for whom concern about climate change is new. They are noticing changes in extreme weather, and aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of the politics and history of this issue – or up to speed on the latest climate science.

We think that it’s important to be talking to different sections of the Australian community in different ways, because different people are motivated by different things – and because they are engaging with the issue on different levels.

It’s going to take a collective effort, involving a diverse group of Australians, to make sure we reach the majority of our fellow citizens and connect with them in a way that demonstrates how climate is impacting on their lives and neighbourhood.

With all this in mind, my view is that the convoy was not a strategic intervention at that time.

Workers on the “front line” are fearful of being rendered unemployed through “climate action”. This appears to be the source of friction. What can be done in your campaign to bring this group on board?

People who live in coal-dependent communities are deeply concerned about their job security, and the future of their communities. Often, such regions have unemployment levels that are considerably higher than the national average, and this particularly affects young people/youth unemployment.

It is the role of governments, industry and unions to plan ahead, and ensure that all regions are looked after when it comes to creating employment opportunities for workers today as well as long into the future. Australians right around the country deserve stable and sustainable employment. If they rely solely on a particular company, or a particular industry, then they will be exposed to a boom-bust cycle where jobs are cut when the industry is experiencing a downturn.

Around the world, the coal industry is in decline. Increasingly, coal mines are automated which means fewer and fewer jobs for Australians.

In contrast, the renewable energy and storage industries are rapidly growing in terms of investment and jobs – both here, and all around the world.

Addressing climate change, and growing economies and job opportunities are not mutually exclusive – as illustrated here in Australia, as well as in other countries like Germany. For more details refer to this report.

We can, and should, do both and this is what we need to be explaining to Australians.

Climate Council Resources

I realise from the Climate Councils perspective – you would never have enough resources, however, do you have enough of a financial support base to not have to be concerned for next 3 – 5 years? If not what do you need – and have you a plan?

The Climate Council relies on the community to fund our operations with over 65% coming from our community based founding friends and other supporters. The remainder of our funding comes from philanthropy and grants from foundations.

We’ve reached a cumulative audience of 507 million people on climate change over the past five years, but we must continue to increase our reach and expand our impact, as our mission is urgent.