The climate this week – 16 Mar 2021

The climate this week – 16 Mar 2021

A weekly report on the politics, economics and science of climate action

By Jenny Goldie, CCL member from the electorate of Eden Monaro, NSW.

Featured image: St Andrews Uniting Church in Cooma, NSW. This and other places of worship sounded the alarm about the climate crisis as part of the Global Multi-faith Day of Action on Climate.

The accelerating end of coal

The big news nationally this week was that the biggest brown-coal power station in the country -Yallourn in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley – will close in 2028: four years earlier than planned! It accounts for a fifth of Victoria’s power supply. Given how polluting Yallourn is, it is a pity that its closure will not happen earlier. On the other hand, this timeframe will allow its workers to retrain. Various groups are calling for a “just transition” for the workers, which means helping them in moving to new jobs, hopefully many in the renewable sector.

Jobs after coal

One possibility for Yallourn’s employees is to work for Australia’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Gippsland. Planners of the $8-10bn Star of the South wind farm have stated their preference to hire workers who will lose their jobs when Yallourn closes. Its construction – proposed to begin in a couple of years – will generate 5,200 jobs. Once operational in 2027, Star of the South will provide 740 ongoing jobs.

Chris Bowen – Federal Labor’s spokesman on Energy – travelled to Queensland this week to make this very point to coal workers: there will be jobs in the renewable sector, once the coal industry will end. On the other hand, Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor is urging coal operators to produce more coal-fired power to replace Yallourn. They, however, are reluctant because even their existing power stations are becoming marginal in their profitability. The current low prices – associated to the recent rise in solar and wind energy – do no support development of new supply.

Looming carbon tariffs

The EU’s planned border tariffs on energy-intensive imports from Australia – and other nations with weak emission laws – was mentioned in a previous post. Instead of reacting, for instance, by adopting a zero net emissions target for 2050, Australia is pushing back against the EU’s move.  Federal Trade Minister Dan Tehan says that he will seek an alternative plan through the World Trade Organisations to slash tariffs on more than 50 environmental goods and services, including wind turbines and solar panels. This move seems not without merit. However, it would be easier to adopt the 2050 zero net emissions target and be in line with our trading partners.

NSW aims at favouring the net-zero transition

The NSW government is rolling out its Net Zero Industry and Innovation fund to keep in the State a few major carbon-intensive regional employers – such as BlueScope, Fortescue and Tomago Aluminium. The $750m fund will help such big businesses drop their emissions and develop greener manufacturing processes.

The rise of #TorresStrait8

Sea-level rise, king tides, inundation, erosion and coral bleaching are threatening the homes and cultures of Torres Strait Islanders. Eight Torres Strait Islanders – also known as the #TorresStrait8 – are taking their case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. They are demanding Australia to rapidly increase its emissions reduction target to at least 65% below 2005 levels by 2030, going net zero by 2050, and phasing out coal. The Australian Government, however, is pushing for the UN to dismiss the landmark case. Help the Islanders by signing their petition here.

Faith for climate action

It is great to see churches and other faith-based groups getting involved in climate action. Last Thursday many places of worship – including St Andrews Uniting Church in Cooma NSW (pictured above) – rang bells or otherwise sounded the alarm for climate. It was part of the Global Multi-faith Day of Action on Climate.

Australian Parents for Climate Action is a relatively new but extraordinarily successful group. They are seeking a new national director. If you are interested, check out their ad.

Further resources


The views and wishes expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and not necessarily of CCL Australia.

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