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Australia must rapidly decarbonise its economy if it is to play a constructive role in global efforts to address the climate change challenge. Present atmospheric levels of CO2 are at 390ppm1 and must be brought down to 350ppm to stay within the 2°C warming “guardrail.

Blessed with vast renewable energy resources, Australia can decarbonise its economy principally through the large-scale rollout of commercially available renewable energy technologies. The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy plan, a research partnership between Beyond Zero Emissions and the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute, demonstrates the technical feasibility of shifting to a 100 percent renewable energy system in ten years. It identifies Concentrating Solar Thermal and wind power as the primary technologies for a zero-carbon stationary energy sector.

Transitioning the stationary energy sector to 100 percent renewable energy sources is achievable, and now needs investment. The scenario modelled in the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy plan would require $370 billion investment over a decade.

The Energy White Paper is intended to “define a comprehensive strategic policy framework to guide the further development of Australia’s energy sector”. However, the White Paper only serves to further the development of the existing energy sector: namely the incumbent fossil fuel powered 19th Century energy system. It not only fails to provide development guidance commensurate to the challenge of addressing climate change, but actively discredits and ignores the strategic benefits of renewables and their role in developing a zero carbon economy.

The key issues concerns include :

  • Failure to acknowledge the threat of climate change and provide an appropriate vision for a zero emissions future
  • Over reliance on fossil fuels
  • Misrepresentation of renewable technologies and cost

and are addressed in the following.

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