Federal technology roadmap leaves regional Australia to find its own path on emissions

The answer is blowin' in the wind.
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

The federal government's "Technology Investment Roadmap", released last week, claims to lower Australia's emissions - but instead it is a push for highly polluting gas-fired generation, a dangerous distraction when we have no time to waste in tackling climate change.

Australia already has proven, reliable emissions reduction technology that works - renewable energy, in the form of large scale wind and solar, backed by battery storage. State leaders and regional communities have recognised this. They are getting behind renewables and putting policy in place to support their uptake.

Increasingly, it looks like our state and federal governments are on different paths. In Victoria there is a clear path towards renewables focused on jobs, regional economic benefit and, of course, action on climate change.

Regional areas have sustained consecutive economic hits from drought, bushfires and COVID-19 and stand to gain from a recovery plan that unlocks renewable energy. The Victorian government has listened to what the community wants - now the federal government needs to step up its game to match state leadership.

Australia has been a clean energy innovator through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) for almost a decade. Among many other things, it has brought down the cost of solar farms, creating thousands of jobs.

The federal government can turbocharge the benefits for regional Australia by securing ARENA's funding into the future. The government's current call for a "gas-led recovery" only works in the interests of fossil fuel companies. It won't help lower emissions and it won't create the sort of opportunities for regions that renewables can provide.

The Australian Wind Alliance's research shows that the recent boom in wind energy construction is delivering an economic boost of $5.1 billion to regional areas, including construction and maintenance jobs. As the Reserve Bank of Australia recently reported "renewable energy investment has supported activity and employment, particularly in regional areas."

The Victorian government has plotted regional roadmaps towards zero emissions to unlock more of these benefits. Heavy-industry hubs such as the Latrobe Valley would be one of the big winners from a clean-energy recovery, with existing know-how, skills and transmission infrastructure.

Federal and state governments can renew the regions with targeted support for better transmission infrastructure and an offshore wind framework. It damages our prospects when our federal leaders instead choose to prop up the ailing gas industry.

Regional and state leaders can take hold of the steering wheel on emissions reduction. We're on the right path to a prosperous, zero-carbon future, now it's time to pick up the pace.

Andrew Bray, National Co-ordinator of the Australian Wind Alliance

This story Regions must find own path on emissions first appeared on The Canberra Times.