This week Yarra City Council took a stand for sensible action on the climate crisis, passing (six votes to two) a motion calling for Hazelwood power station to be replaced with renewable energy within the next term of the Victorian parliament. The motion also called for the scrapping of the proposed HRL Dual-gas coal-fired power station, which the State Government is currently supporting. See below for the full text of the motion and background information.
Yarra Climate Action Now worked with Socialist Party councillor Steve Jolly on developing the motion, which was subsequently strengthened by Greens councillor Sam Gaylard. It was supported by the Greens, Socialist Party and independent councillors Fristacky and Smedley. Two Labor Party councillors voted against the motion without giving any good reason for doing so, while Yarra Mayor, Jane Garrett, also a Labor Party member, was mysteriously absent from the vote.
YCAN is pleased that Yarra City Council has stood up for its residents and urged the other levels of government to urgently reduce Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions. We congratulate the councillors that passed this motion. We would also like to express our anger and frustration with the Labor councillors who voted and argued against it. At a time when the Brumby Government is desperately trying to create some green credentials, this vote has shown that Labor is still deep in the pocket of the coal industry.
In other news, at the same council meeting, the YCAN Local Action Group had yet another win, presenting a submission to Council on the Carbon Neutral Action Plan, which received commendation from the councillors and some points of which were acted upon immediately.
Full text of motion:
12.1 Replacement of Hazelwood Power Station
Moved: Councillor Jolly Seconded: Councillor Clarke
1. That Council:
(a) whilst acknowledging the State Government’s Climate Change Bill 2010, sets a target to reduce emissions by 20% below 2000 levels by 2020, and key initiatives to reach that goal, it is recognised that these targets and actions are not sufficient for Victoria to play its part in avoiding runaway climate change, and are lower than Yarra City Council’s own targets;
(b) supports the replacing of all of Hazelwood brown coal power with renewable energy within the next term of the Victorian Parliament, and In this regard, Council suggests that the State and Federal Governments adopt plans similar to those put forward by Beyond Zero Emissions or Greenpeace that provide detailed, practical and timely implementation strategies for the transition to renewable energy;
(c) urges the State and Federal Governments to expedite policies and funding to achieve this end;
(d) also calls upon the State Government to reject a proposal by Dual Gas to build a new coal power station in the Latrobe Valley which proposes new gasification technology which does not even meet the average emissions intensity of power plants in the OECD; and
(e) write to the Prime Minister, Victorian Premier, Victorian and Federal Energy Ministers, and the Victorian and Federal Opposition Leaders and local members to advise its position.
Hazelwood Power Station is responsible for almost 15% of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions and 3% of Australia’s. It consumes 27 billion litres of drinking water per year – enough to supply Melbourne’s water needs for a month. It takes just four days for Hazelwood to cancel out the entire year’s worth of emissions saved by Victorians though the 5-star energy efficient homes program. That’s 650,000 black balloons every minute. Hazelwood is Australia’s most polluting power station and one of the most polluting in the industrialised world.
Hazelwood Power Station was due to be closed in 2009. However, after privatisation in 1996, in 2005 the State Government extended its coal allocation out into the 2030s.
The climate science is clear that there is already too much carbon in the atmosphere to prevent runaway warming. We urgently need to stop emitting carbon and remove it from the atmosphere.
There are renewable energy alternatives to coal-burning that are commercially available now. Wind and baseload solar thermal power can replace coal, and Victoria has these resources in abundance. The work of the University of Melbourne Energy Institute and Beyond Zero Emissions clearly shows that Hazelwood can be replaced with a mix of these technologies within a few years. Basing the manufacturing of these renewable energy components in the Latrobe Valley can ensure that workers in coal-burning areas can transition to other quality jobs.
Victorian greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise alarmingly. Replacing Hazelwood with renewable energy is the first step in the necessary shift to zero emissions technologies that will ensure Victoria’s energy security and productivity.