As we face a growing climate emergency, many countries are realising the importance of renewable energy. Scientists agree that we need to rapidly and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that renewable energy is the best way to do so.
Unfortunately, Australia does not have the best track record when it comes to fossil fuels: We currently have one of the highest rates of greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the world. In recent years, we have taken some steps towards renewable energy, but how do our efforts compare to the rest of the world?
Why renewable energy is important
Scientists have been warning about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions for some time, and the issue is now coming to a point of crisis. In 2019, the United Nations declared a state of climate emergency, urging an immediate reduction in emissions. Research shows that the majority of Australians understand this and are worried about climate change, and 84% of Australians agree that the government should move towards renewable.
Furthermore, a combination of renewable energy, notably solar and wind power, could be used to provide up to 100% of Australia’s electricity needs according to scientists, and is in fact the cheaper option compared to building new power stations based on fossil fuels.
Australia’s current stance on renewable energy
Despite the growing concern about climate change and support for renewables within the Australian community, the Australian government has failed to take decisive action. The current federal government has set low targets for 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and just 26% renewable energy as a proportion of all electricity.
Furthermore, a 2017 report from the Australian Institute found that the country was actually behind schedule in meeting even these unambitious targets. Investment in renewable energy has actually decreased in recent years, dropping 40% in 2019.
How the rest of the world is tracking
On a global level, however, the renewable energy sector is booming. Many countries, including Germany, the UK, Japan, the US and China are stepping up their investment in clean energy, and hundreds of thousands of jobs are being created in the industry worldwide. Other countries are also setting far more ambitious renewable energy targets. New Zealand, for example, has a target of 90% renewable energy by 2025, compared to Australia’s 26% target.
Although lagging behind some other parts of the world, Australia has a great opportunity in this area. Our climate and natural resources mean that we could relatively easily and rapidly transition to 100% renewable energy. This change needs to be driven from a political level, but we can also take action on an individual level by using renewable energy in our homes. Thanks to the sunny Queensland climate, solar panels in Brisbane are an ideal way to power your home, as well as in many other locations around Australia.