COP21 outcomes, and Australia’s solar industry

COP21 outcomes, and Australia’s solar industry

Over the last two weeks all eyes have been fixed on Paris, host city to the 21st Conference of Parties, with the key topic of discussion being climate change. Kings, presidents, prime ministers and negotiators from over 190 countries descended on Paris to hammer out a deal to save the world from the disasters of impending climate change.

The outcome of the two week conference? A global agreement to keep temperatures well below a 2°C rise above pre-industrial levels, with an ambitious target of actually keeping global warming to below 1.5°C. If this target is achieved it will be a massive win for the world as a whole, saving us from the worst of the damage that climate change could inflict.

However, as the rest of the world has stepped up to the plate and shown ambition, optimism and a willingness to dig deep, Australia’s response has shown, yet again, we are well behind the times in terms of climate change policy and rhetoric.

Between presenting one of the lowest pledges to reduce emissions, and ranking as one of the worst performing industrial countries on the Climate Change Performance Index, higher only than oil rich Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan, whose fossil fuel energy dependence has already resulted in a 2°C rise in temperate between 1936 and 2005, Australia’s stance has been disappointing if not embarrassing

Julie Bishop views the matter as a balance between “economy and environment”, a view reflected in the puny emissions pledge of a 26-28% reduction from 2005 levels. The Australian Minerals council has grasped on the wording that peak emissions must be reached only “as soon as possible” rather than NOW, as a sign that they can carry on with business as usual.

It seems the Australian Federal Government is not serious about decarbonising the economy and moving towards a clean energy future, but as much as the Australian leadership and Mineral Council continue to bury their heads in the sand, things are going to change whether they like it or not.

Renewable energy technology, like solar power, is rapidly advancing with businesses and entrepreneurs grasping at available opportunities. Our societies and economies are changing, and change can and will occur without political buy in.

If the world is to have any chance staying below a 2°C rise, let alone 1.5°C, business as usual is going to have to end, and quickly. Although there is no mandate to enforce countries to stop using and producing fossil fuels, the agreement reached in Paris naturally implies that global coal usage will need to be strongly and swiftly curbed if goals are to be met.

Despite obfuscating by the government and weak climate policy, there is no way that targets laid out by the world can be met without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. Australia has to change…. It is inevitable and it is coming.

Renewable energy, solar and wind, are the way of the future and eventually policy will have to catch up to reality. For businesses positioned in Australia’s renewable energy markets, the future looks very bright. And now with global good will behind them, the renewable energy industry will have very fertile ground in which to thrive, grow and succeed. Bring on the sun power.

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