No time for incremental steps to renewables

In the interests of keeping an open mind, I recently listened to the National Press Club address by Andrew Liveris, former CEO of DOW Chemicals and special advisor to the National Covid-19 Commission Advisory Board (NCC). While he is a very successful businessman, I’m not convinced of his advice to the Morrison Government to implement a gas-led recovery. There was a lack of scientific intelligence at the NCC table; in fact, it would appear that a gas-led recovery was a foregone conclusion, which raises the issues of conflict of interest and integrity.

Liveris outlined what is needed to modernise our economy, for example, the need for a more equitable economy; modern manufacturing supported by investment in education and skills training for the future; investment in our innovators and researchers to keep them from leaving Australia, and diversified trade partners and secure supply chains. Not much to argue with there.

But how to get there?

The effect of gas on climate change

In “4 reasons why a gas-led economic recovery is a terrible, naïve idea” published in the Conversation (Aug 25th, 2020):

“Australia’s leading scientists today sent an open letter to Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, speaking out against his support for natural gas.

Accelerating gas production will increase greenhouse gas emissions. …

Natural gas primarily consists of methane, and the role of methane in global warming cannot be overstated. It’s estimated that over 20 years, methane traps 86 times as much heat in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.”

The alternative approach

A renewables-led recovery has strong support from the public, small communities, the business community, many local and some State governments, the UN, climate scientists, economists and many national governments world-wide. All that’s lacking for Australia to seize the opportunity to tackle climate, recovery AND prosperity is Federal policy.

The Beyond Zero Emissions – The Million Jobs Plan is one example of a well-planned, costed roadmap making the economic argument for a renewables-led recovery.

A target of zero emissions by 2050 is out-of-date. Many scientists are now telling us that the target should be zero emissions by 2030, but that on our current trajectory, we won’t even meet a 2050 target, and that we are heading for global warming of 3-5℃ by 2100.

Unfortunately, there is no time for the proposed incremental transition from coal to gas to hydrogen and renewables. Scientists are telling us time is running out for us to avoid catastrophic global warming. We need vision and courage in our leaders to step away from the fossil fuel mindset.

Clare Daly, Highlands, Victoria

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