'Energy Future' paper sets the scene. Climate White Paper must drive transition from coal.

Friends of the Earth has welcomed today's release of 'Victoria's Energy Future' by the Minister for Energy Peter Batchelor.

We acknowledge the fact that the Brumby government is taking such a proactive approach to transforming our energy sources towards a low carbon future. The White Paper must fill in the details on exactly how Victoria can move away from its historic reliance on coal, oil and gas to generate energy.

MEDIA RELEASE. FRIDAY JUNE 18, 2010
Friends of the Earth

National environment group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has welcomed today's release of 'Victoria's Energy Future' by the Minister for Energy and Resources Peter Batchelor.

"As the state election comes into focus, there are growing expectations in the community that the government will show visionary leadership in the realm of climate change" said FoE campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker. "As the Premier has noted 'Our responsibility is to move beyond the initial steps of recent years and act boldly to protect our planet and secure our future'. This document sets out a good platform in terms of possible future energy mixes, the fact that major transformation of our energy sector and more broadly the economy is required, and that such a transition will need to involve everyone - government, industry and the communit".

"We are heartened to see the statement that we are 'likely to see' older coal fired power stations close this decade. Obviously the short term closure of the ageing Hazelwood power station and its replacement with job rich renewable energy is an opportunity for massive cut-through on climate issues for the government in an election year".

"This report is indicative of similar recent initiatives by the state government such as the Jobs for the Future Economy (green jobs) package. It is forward thinking, aims to build on Victoria's capacity for innovation and other existing strengths, looks to job rich options as we transition to a lower carbon future, and seeks to ensure that benefits flow to rural communities, while equity considerations are factored into the costs and opportunities that will come with transition. It places the government in a good position to deliver meaningful measures in the much anticipated Climate Change White Paper".

"While we welcome the release of this report, we do hold grave concerns about some aspects of it, including the fact that:

*  overall emissions appear unlikely to decline before 2020 at the earliest,
* there is no cut off date for removing the option of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) from future energy mixes. While Mr Batchelor noted this morning that CCS would have been abandoned by 2030 if not proved to be commercially viable, the government must set an earlier date for this, as the current high risk strategy of hoping CCS will work is a disincentive for significant investment in renewables,
* gas is seen as growing massively as an energy source in coming decades. Yet gas prices will rise considerably as local supplies dwindle and we are forced to rely on imports. In contrast, local renewable production like wind and geo thermal will not be subject to the same vagaries of the market,
* it continues to propose new forms of 'low emissions' coal as future energy sources. There are technological barriers and new costs to this. There is also considerable community concern about these technologies and they are even more water intensive than conventional coal  - hardly a viable option in a water stressed future".

"We acknowledge the fact that the Brumby government is taking such a proactive approach to transforming our energy sources towards a low carbon future. The White Paper must fill in the details on exactly how Victoria can, in the words of the Premier 'move Victoria away from its historic reliance on coal, oil and gas to generate energy' and into a truly low carbon future".

Further comment: Cam Walker 0419 338 047