The urgent need for a secure energy system that tackles climate change has been at the forefront of a series of high profile events this week.
Earlier today a Smart Energy Summit was held at Parliament House, Canberra, providing a forum for business to brief Members of Parliament and Senators on the critical need for a zero carbon future.
Yesterday Engineers Australia and the CSIRO hosted a Climate Change Roundtable in Sydney which was attended by a long list of industry groups.
Speaking at today’s Summit, Smart Energy Council CEO, John Grimes, said Australia’s Black Summer demonstrated climate change is here and steps must be taken to urgently reduce emissions.
“The good news is we have the renewable energy and storage technologies right now to deliver a zero carbon future and guess what - they are the cheapest forms of energy generation right now,” he said.
The Summit also focused on employment and economic opportunities for regional Australia in a zero carbon future. Local councils outlined how they are rebuilding after the bushfires with renewable energy microgrids providing energy now and reliability in future crises.
Helen Haines, Member for Indi and Chair of the cross-party Parliamentary Friends for Climate Action, who are hosting the Summit said communities are taking control of their own futures by developing locally-sourced, clean power that ensures their energy security and lowers electricity costs.
“A transition to renewable energy means a multi-billion opportunity for regional Australia, and a boom in skills and training opportunities,” Haines said.
“With the right policy settings, we could have a sunbelt of local power stations stretching from Cape York to Esperance.
“The Government must do more to accelerate the development of this potentially nation-defining industry and unlock this endless source of cheap energy to drive our regions forward.”
Zali Steggall, Member for Warringah and Deputy Chair of Parliamentary Friends for Climate Action said the best way forward is to create bipartisan solutions for the future.
Climate Council CEO, Amanda McKenzie, welcomed action by state and local governments pointing out that Australia cannot wait for the federal government to show leadership. “Australia needs a strong national policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as part of a global effort. But we don’t have time to wait for the Federal Government to catch up,” she said.
“It’s up to state and local governments, businesses, communities and individuals to take charge and lead the way.
“Many are already doing just that. 120 local councils have signed up to our Cities Power Partnership, implementing local emission reduction solutions.
“And our annual renewable energy scorecard has encouraged every state and territory in Australia to adopt a net-zero emissions target, effectively bypassing the lack of leadership from the Federal Government.”
Engineers have a central role to play in the creation of a sustainable future, according to the president of the Queensland division of Engineers Australia.
Speaking at the Climate Change Roundtable in Sydney, he said mitigation and adaptation against climate change cannot be successful without engineering solutions.
“By providing unbiased technical advice to decision makers and the public, motivating change through our achievements and communicating the consequences of inaction, engineers have the ability to drive change and to positively motivate and encourage our communities to seek a better future,” he said.