Despite all of the dithering over the ETS here in Australia and the post-Kyoto international agreement, the transition to a clean energy economy is slowly gathering pace. Recenly announced figures from the UN, reported in the Guardian show that last year, global investment in renewable energy surpassed investment in fossil fuel energy for the first time. It is an important tipping point and shows where the future lies.

Wind, solar and other clean technologies attracted $140bn (£85bn) compared with $110bn for gas and coal for electrical power generation.

Here in Australia, the NSW Government yesterday announced approval of the massive Silverton wind farm near Broken Hill. The two stage project will include nearly 600 turbines, making it the biggest wind farm in Australia. It is expected the project will create around 700 jobs during the five year construction, around 120 permanent jobs, and will generate enough electricity for around 200,000 homes.

Earlier this week, Mike Rann announced that South Australia will increase its renewable energy target from 20% to 33% by 2020, as well as an additional $20million in funding to encourage renewable energy development in the state.

Imagine what could happen if we tried. Germany, for example, now employs over 250,000 people in the renewable energy industry.

If we are going to solve the climate crisis, we are going to have to get renewable energy to be cheaper than coal (as well as doing lots of other stuff). It’ll happen eventually but the aim of policy should be to make this happen as soon as possible. We still need decent renewable energy laws here in Australia, and we need a strong global deal. Unfortunately we don’t have time on our side.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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