Climate change and Australia’s commitment to clean energy

On December 12th 2015, a historic climate change deal was struck between the major nations meeting in Paris – they pledged to limit the increase in temperatures worldwide caused by global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Ideally, that figure would drop to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Australia’s own target of reducing its greenhouse gases has, however, remained the same – that is, 26-28% fewer emissions than we produced back in 2005. In the wake of the deal, reduction targets will be reviewed every half-decade from 2020. The deal also hopes to eliminate our dependence on coal, oil and gas for energy. Instead, these fossil fuels will need to be replaced by clean and renewable energy sources.

As Australia is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita, swift action needs to be taken in order to meet these strict deadlines. Preventing the construction of any new coal mines and gradually phasing out the use of coal-fired power stations is just one way in which we as a nation can begin cutting down our carbon emissions. However, in looking toward the future, a sustainable energy solution must be put in place before radical changes to the industry and economy of Australia can be made and effectively kept in place. Solar energy is one such solution to this problem – solar energy systems are already sweeping across countries such as North America which is not without its own drought issues (much like Australia). These systems serve as efficient means of reducing carbon emissions while simultaneously generating renewable sources of clean energy.

But, while our prime mister is in Paris talking up the virtues of Australia being a green country, Synergy is trying to undermine our efforts to be a global leader in renewable energy by increasing their service charge and penalising people for having Solar on their homes. The hypocrisy of it all is incredibly disappointing and, if passed, a huge letdown for our future generations. It is high time for Australia to opt for clean and renewable energy to prove its credibility to take action towards net-zero emissions.

In order to honour its commitment towards climate control, the Australian government will need to take the following steps:

  • Earnestly revise our pollution reduction targets in order to meet climate change goals by 2020. Meeting our current targets could still leave us with the highest rate of pollution per capita of any developed country over the last decade. Avoiding an increase of 1.5° in global temperatures, we should aim for zero net emissions by 2050.
  • Significantly reducing our dependency on fossil fuels such as coal-fired power plants. The energy infrastructure currently in place requires a complete overhaul towards clean, renewable energy: coal-fired power plants block every effort to innovate. In contrast, green energy systems such as solar energy can aid in both meetings and maintaining our current carbon reduction targets.
  • Investing in initiatives that reward means of producing eco-friendly sources of energy. By promoting a nationwide shift toward solar energy, would accelerate progress toward our green energy goals, leaving more time to develop strategies for moving away from fossil fuels. In turn, with enough incentive, Australia will turn to utilise sustainable sources of energy and join the rest of the world in working for a cleaner, greener future.