Our Future: No solutions in 'solution package'

It would be funny, if it were not such a serious problem, that the government’s recently unveiled "Climate Solutions Package" contains no meaningful solutions to transitioning away from fossil fuels.

Centred around the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) (which was actually set up by the Abbott Government), the policy amounts to a spend of $200 million per year over 10 years, paying people to take steps such as planting trees, avoiding savannah burning, and the like.

But labelling it "Climate Solutions" must mean there’s also a focus on fossil fuels – Australia’s biggest source of greenhouse gas pollution, right? And there has to be a plan to move rapidly to renewables, right?

Eh, wrong. In fact, there’s nothing in this package that supports the uptake of solar at all. Nor, is there any significant reinvestment proposed in clean energy, certainly nowhere near the scale necessary.

The Federal government’s own Renewable Energy Target – designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector and encourage more generation of electricity from renewable sources – hasn’t even been extended.

Instead, what we have is a move to double down on the ERF policy — under which emissions have only continued to rise every year for the past four years.

The Federal government’s own Renewable Energy Target – designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector and encourage more generation of electricity from renewable sources – hasn’t even been extended.

Solar has been left completely out of the equation and yet, it offers a golden solution for this country. The Government says it wants to reduce the enormous bills that are a financial burden for so many Australians. Making it easier for people to get solar on their rooftops is an obvious way to deliver this.

What’s more, in NSW alone in a single year, rooftop solar reduced the wholesale price by between $2.2 and $3.3 billion. And research by the Victoria Energy Policy Centre shows solar households exporting power back to the grid were in effect subsidising the energy bills of those without panels by providing low-cost electricity to the network.

For any climate policy to be credible, it must drive down fossil fuel emissions rapidly and deeply. Sadly, the measures announced this week continue to prop up carbon emissions which are the primary cause of global warming.

Not only will this package do nothing to cut electricity prices - It will do little to protect Australians from worsening extreme weather and climate events such as the devastating droughts, bushfires and floods felt across the country this summer.

This announcement leaves us all vulnerable.

Joseph Scales is the National Director of Solar Citizens.