Climate change on election agenda
AUSTRALIA is prepping for ‘an election fought on climate change’, with communities already struggling with the emerging threat.
Locally, Bass Coast Shire Council has nominated coastal erosion as one of its key advocacy priorities due to storm events damaging foreshores in Cowes East and Inverloch.
Federal Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Mark Butler visited the solar and battery array at the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine on Wednesday, flanked by Labor candidate for Monash Jessica O’Donnell, Labor candidate for Dunkley Peta Murphy, Bass MLA Jordan Crugnale and representatives of Bass Coast Shire Council.
The solar and battery array is an initiative of the Energy Innovation Co-Operative and Mr Butler praised the co-op for its strides in delivering cleaner energy across South Gippsland.
The co-op has also been successful in delivering other initiatives such as the Totally Renewable Phillip Island partnership and setting up the Southern CORE Fund.
The Southern CORE Fund provides no interest loans to help community groups and low income households switch to renewable energy.
Its goals for 2019 through to 2022 include supporting more Totally Renewable Towns, completing a Gippsland Renewable Energy Roadmap with both local councils, offer ‘community retail electricity’, establish community owned renewable energy investment projects, and secure more donations through the Southern CORE Fund.
Mr Butler announced an elected Labor Government in May would see $5 million go towards backing community organisations like the co-op Australia wide, as part of the government’s $100 million policy.
“We will be announcing (community power) hubs before the election and hopefully after the election to form a network across the country to really boost and deliver projects that the co-operative has in its prospectus, as well as other energy groups around the country,” he said.
“We really want this election to be about climate change. I have felt, in my travels around the country, a real surge in community understanding that the science is getting more urgent; we are starting to feel and see the impacts of climate change.
“We have a government in Canberra that for five years just hasn’t grasped the nettle on meeting the challenges presented or enormous opportunities that a country like Australia, blessed with amazing renewable energy resources, can grasp as the global economy shifts to clean energy.”
Co-Op chair Moragh Mackay welcomed the support from Mr Butler and the Labor candidates.
“We’ve seen significant progress in Victoria’s renewable energy sector under progressive State Government policies, with Victoria set to achieve its renewables target one year earlier than expected, and newly elected Bass MLA Jordan Crugnale a supportive local member for the co-op and the region. But there is still so much more which needs to happen, across the whole range of climate change action,” she said.
“We are heartened to hear from the Federal Labor Party that they will be taking strong climate change and energy policies to the election. We are particularly pleased with the Neighbourhood Renewables program which is designed to strengthen community initiatives such as ours.
“The Energy Innovation Co-Operative has no geographic limitations in its rules. We have been working in partnership with the Community Energy Hub in the Latrobe Valley and have recently been contracted by Gippsland Climate Change Network and State Government to develop a Renewable Energy Roadmap for Gippsland.”
Mr Butler said an elected Labor Government would support local communities by setting up a national framework and building projects to ensure a transition into clean energy.
“The other thing I think we need to focus on is how the community is dealing with the impacts of climate change that are already being seen. We are seeing substantial reductions in rainfall and extended fire seasons, and we have nothing in place,” he said.
“That will require a close relationship with State Governments and local councils across the country that are in the frontline.”
Ms O’Donnell applauded the Co-Op for its invested interest.
“We have seen a mini tornado blow through Lang Lang and we have had a crazy fire season. We are seeing the impacts, it is time to take action and I am proud of the policy the Labor Government has put forward,” she said.
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