For the past weeks I have collected quite an impressive amount of articles on Australia, as its recent elections have brought to power a Conservative Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.
A climate denier backed by fossil fuels interests, Mr Abbott is willing to axe the country’s carbon tax. As the Guardian reported, this would cost the Australian economy a massive $6 billion to remove over the next four years.
Additional costs of increased catastrophes and extreme weather events such as droughts, heat waves and floods would also have to be borne afterwards by Australians.
The recent ” apocalyptic ” fires in the State of New South Wales, the worst in fifty years, have thwarted the plans to scrap the carbon tax as they have risen debate on the issue. Despite not being appreciated by voters, the carbon tax still has much more support than Mr. Abbott’s alternative as the Sidney Morning Herald reported.
Indeed, Australians want to combat climate change. A June 2013 poll shown that 66 percent of people there believe climate change is real and an overwhelming 84 percent of respondents want action against global warming.
Furthermore, the recent IPCC report from the world’s leading climatologists have clearly shown that the country will have to increase its climate efforts, not scrap them. 40% emissions cuts may be needed to avert the catastrophe.
This is further exemplified by recent data from the local Climate Council showing how 2013 could be the warmest year ever in the country. Temperatures, whether overall the country or locally, just keep on increasing over the time, pointing out the necessity to slash greenhouse gases emissions rapidly.
And this is exactly what the carbon tax does as I noted in an article this summer :
Australia has been one of the first countries in the world to enact and launch a carbon tax. As it has been a year since its start, environmental websites have been publishing results.
And these are encouraging as brown coal use has been decreased by 13 percent, renewables’ use have increased by a massive 20 percent.
Overall greenhouse gases emissions related to electricity generation have been cut by as much as eight percent in a single year.
These first results are more than encouraging and just show how the carbon tax works (as it does in Ireland or British Colombia).
Wind power already accounts for 27 percent of electricity in the State and no less than 20 percent of houses have solar panels on their roofs. Solar PV accounts now for 3.7 percent of local electricity.
Cleantechnica also reported earlier this month that the City of Sydney – Australia’s most populated city with 4.6 million inhabitants – have most ambitious plans for 2030. By then, electricity would be entirely provided by renewable energy sources.
Using trigeneration- a process in which a plant generates electricity from biomass or waste and then uses the waste heat it produces to provide heating and cooling – and local renewables sources, the city would be independent for its energy needs.
I would like to conclude this article by stating that as costs decrease rapidly, solar is currently booming in Australia as over a million households – 2.5 million people – now have solar panels. In 2008, only 20,000 were installed. To counter this explosion, local utilities are trying to fight back.
Who will win in Australia ? Fossil fuels interests or the Australian people willing to preserve its beautiful country and their lives ? In both cases, be sure that I will keep you updated of what is taking place down under.
Edit : thanks to Clare for pointing out that the city of Sydney spells out with two Ys.