Victoria steps up with renewables target and ban on fracking
In mid June Victoria stepped up it’s Renewable Energy target to 25 percent renewable energy share by 2020, and 40 percent by 2025. And this week Premier Daniel Andrews announced a permanent ban on onshore unconventional gas exploration and development and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
While phaseout of coal generators is important, and we are hopeful that Hazelwood closure is in the near term pipeline, these are important announcements for climate action at the state level. It shows the state Government is treating the climate issue and their citizens with the seriousness that it deserves.
The Victorian renewable energy targets will likely double state wind power capacity by 2020 and quadruple it by 2025. The government will also encourage large scale solar projects in the north of the state to help meet these targets. Some 4000 jobs are likely to be created by these targets, many in regional areas. (Read a storify of the announcement)
Environment Victoria CEO Mr Wakeham said in June:
“The renewable energy legislation will be a real test for Matthew Guy’s leadership of the Coalition. The Victorian Coalition has appointed a Shadow Minister for Renewable Energy, but that will be meaningless if the Coalition is not prepared to support this tried and tested method of bringing renewable energy projects on line.
“Matthew Guy needs to decide if his party is going to continue Ted Baillieu and Tony Abbott’s attacks on renewable energy or develop a credible conservative agenda on renewable energy and climate change like Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger or German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”
Mr Wakeham said that the target and auctions bode well for the Andrews Government’s upcoming Renewable Energy Action Plan, but that there was much more to do to accelerate the shift to pollution-free energy.
“We’re also hoping the Renewable Energy Action Plan delivers better incentives for households and small businesses to install solar and batteries, makes it easier to connect renewable energy projects to the grid and supports low-income Victorians to access clean energy.
“At the end of the day, while we can keep pushing clean energy into the electricity grid, we also need a state government plan for the orderly phase-out of our oldest and dirtiest coal-burning power stations like Hazelwood and Yallourn.
“The upcoming Renewable Energy Action Plan should outline a clear plan to retire coal plants, support a transition for workers and communities in the Latrobe Valley and further ensure a thriving renewable energy industry,” said Mr Wakeham.
The campaign to ban fracking and unconventional gas has been active for over 5 years and has seen over 75 communities declare themselves gasfield free. Over 1.4 million hectares of Victoria was threatened by some form of onshore gas mining, which included coal seam gas, tight gas, shale gas and underground coal gasification. All these forms of unconventional gas will be banned.
“Our farmers produce some of the world’s cleanest and freshest food. We won’t put that at risk with fracking. Victorians have made it clear that they don’t support fracking and that the health and environmental risks involved outweigh any potential benefits.” said Premier Daniel Andrews.
Lock the Gate and Friends of the Earth have done extensive organising and educational outreach to farming and regional communities across the state. While a moratorium was in place from the previous Liberal Government, these communities will breathe a sigh of relief that onshore fracking and unconventional gas will be permanently banned.
“The Andrews government understands that gas mining companies cannot guarantee the safety of our underground water supplies, our land or our environment. These are not things we have ever been willing to gamble with and today we can say for the first time that Victoria is protected, our water, our farmland, the health of our rural communities is protected” said community campaigner Alison Marchant.
As I outlined in this storify, #VicGasBan is a win for people power, agriculture and #climate. Local communities speaking up made the ban on fracking happen.
Small changes matter. People can make change happen.