City of Melbourne leads with renewable energy ambition

In early March, Yes 2 Renewables visited Melbourne Town Hall to brief city councillors about our campaign for ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Targets.

Melbourne emerged as a hub for the renewable energy sector in the early 2000s.

The establishment of the national Renewable Energy Target Scheme in 2001 and Bracks/Brumby VRET in 2006 saw the likes of Pacific Hydro, Senvion, Vestas, and other players set up shop in Melbourne–creating hundreds of jobs.

The Federal government’s attack on the national Renewable Energy Target put the handbrake on the growing sector.

A Friends of the Earth survey of 15 renewable energy companies found that overall job numbers fell from 556 in 2013 to 507 in 2014–a  9 percent decrease–in response to policy uncertainty.

With jobs at stake, we wanted to get the City of Melbourne’s perspective on how the Andrews government’s soon-to-be-released Renewable Energy Action Plan can help grow the cleantech sector.

“Government policy and ambitious targets are vital to grow these sectors,” said Councillor Arron Wood, Chair of Environment. “They also need long term policy certainty.”

“We’ve witnessed firsthand what uncertainty did to the billion dollar renewables industry when the national Renewable Energy Target effectively in limbo.”

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The City of Melbourne walks the talk when it comes to tackling climate change and growing renewables. It has set short-terms targets for renewable energy and carbon emissions.

“We have a renewable energy target for the municipality of 25 percent by 2018,” says Councillor Arron Wood. “…Once we see achievement towards 25 percent renewables by 2018 that we’ll look at a more ambitious 2025 and 2030 goal.”

The City of Melbourne has been carbon neutral since 2012 and has set a zero-net emissions target for 2020. Yet, the success of the zero-net emissions push depends on the energy mix in Victoria.

“Quite simply our zeronet emissions strategy isn’t achievable without fundamentally changing the energy mix,” explains Cr Wood, who is keeping a close eye on how the state government’s Renewable Energy Action Plan is shaping up.

“We don’t have a formal council position on the VRET though we have already advocated for a strong target,” Cr Wood notes. “Personally I’d like to see it mirror the 50 percent target put forward at a federal level” (by the Shorten-led Labor Party).

Lifting the level of ambition for Victoria’s Renewable Energy Targets will create good jobs in downtown Melbourne. It will help the city compete for investment flowing into the lucrative cleantech sector.

Councillor Arron Woods believes strong state renewable energy policy “builds city resilience, drives innovation and jobs and helps us retain the world’s most liveable city title.”

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In September 2015, the Premier announced a baseline Victorian Renewable Energy Target of at least 20 per cent by 2020, but pledged to aim higher.

With a growing coalition of businesses, unions, community and environment groups supporting ambitious VRETs, the Andrews government can afford to aim high.

After all, the greater the ambition; the greater the benefits for creating jobs, attracting investment, and tackling climate change.

TAKE ACTION:

  • Have your say… The City of Melbourne is seeking community input in its Future Melbourne plan. Click here to have your say on how the City can act on the big issues of climate change and rolling out renewables.
  • Sign the Petition for Ambition and show your support for a strong Victorian Renewable Energy Target.
  • Support our campaign by getting involved or making a donation.
  • Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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