Australians support investment in renewable energy

Food & climate change article written on the 01 Dec 2010

Photo: OxfamAUS

Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries to the impacts of climate change. Future projections show that if left unchecked climate change will mean our country faces more bushfires, floods and droughts. This doesn’t only spell disaster for our beautiful natural environment; it will also affect our food supply, homes, businesses and lives.

Paradoxically Australia is also one of the world’s biggest per person emitters of carbon dioxide, one of the major gases contributing to atmospheric warming, causing climate change. While numerous other countries steam ahead with polices to reduce their carbon emissions, including implementing emission trading schemes, investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, Australia seems to be dragging its feet.

In 2009 Australia invested $1 billion in the clean energy sector, while this certainly is not an amount to be sneezed at, it doesn’t stack up to what the other G-20 nations are investing. Nor is it enough to set us on the path to significantly reduce our carbon emissions and secure a sustainable energy future. Australia ranks 14th out of the G-20 nations lagging behind China, the US, Canada, Brazil and India, amongst others.

What I find most striking is that a sunburnt country, like Australia, spent just 7.8% of the clean energy budget on solar power, when Germany, a northern European country which has months of snow each year invested 44.3% of their $4.3billion clean energy budget in solar.

To me this screams untapped potential. And that’s just in solar. Australia doesn’t only have an abundance of sunshine, we’re also an island, surrounded by sea (a great source of wave and tidal energy) as well as having some impressive currents to generate wind energy.

The Global Energy Network Institute has put together a bunch of handy world maps which clearly demonstrate which areas of the world are most suitable for what types of renewable energy – and the good news for Australia is that we score highly on multiple fronts. These maps demonstrate that with more investment Australia could easily boost our renewable energy supply.

In late November, Galaxy research conducted a series of polls on Oxfam’s behalf, the results showed overwhelming support from the Australian population for our government to step it up on climate action.

As the results show, Australians are overwhelmingly in favour of our government investing more in clean, renewable energy sources both at home and abroad.

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93% of people surveyed supported Australia investing more in renewable energy sources at home as well as sharing technological know-how on new and renewable technologies like solar and wind energy with poor developing countries as part of our efforts to tackle climate change.

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Furthermore, more than four in five (86%) of Australians are in favour of Australia doing more to support Pacific Islander communities deal with the impacts of climate change. We know that our neighbours in the Pacific are incredibly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, despite contributing the least to it.

Rising sea levels and king tides – linked to climate change – are already affecting food supplies in the Pacific, as Nui’s story shows. We’re asking people to watch Nui’s story and then share his powerful message with your local MP:

“I appeal to the leaders of rich countries to please reduce your emissions. Our culture and our traditions are so valuable. They are part of our identity that we cannot leave behind.”

While action on climate change does come with a price, our recent poll shows that the people of Australia say inaction is the price we really can’t afford.