Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Laying Clean Energy Foundations

By Ian Lowe

A review finds that Australia is a late adopter of clean energy.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The independent review of the proposed Clean Energy Foundation has given it a very strong endorsement. The team conducting the review was led by Reserve Bank board member Jillian Broadbent, so it certainly wasn’t a group of trendy greenies out of touch with commercial reality. Its main conclusion was that Australia needs a mechanism of this kind to catch up to where the rest of the world is going.

While some fossil fuel interests have claimed that the government is trying to “lead the world”, the review found that Australia is actually a late starter in the move to clean energy. Change in Australia has been impeded by cheap coal, the absence of pollution charges and the highly centralised electricity industry.

Many major economies have set up similar approaches years ago. At the top end of the scale, the USA and China have both committed more than $30 billion of public money, while the UK, Germany and Brazil also have clean energy funds. Germany is planning to spend something like A$150 billion on clean energy over the next 5 years.

The panel saw the proposed Foundation as a vital step to make up for lost time. Climate Change Minister Greg Combet is on record as saying that failure to act would allow other countries to gain a competitive advantage, while Broadbent argued that inaction would leave Australia “vulnerable” in the future.

So it...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.