Australian Progressives to Rudd:  Time for a Clean Energy Investment Strategy

May 10, 2010 | Devon Swezey,

Fed up with the Australian government's failure to enact strong clean energy policy, a broad coalition of Australian academics, environmental organizations, and clean energy advocates have written an open letter calling on Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to include major federal investments in clean energy technology in the new federal budget.

The letter, organized by Beyond Zero Emissions, comes as a response to the failure of the much-compromised Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which was pilloried as a giveaway to fossil fuel industries and ineffective for driving clean energy deployment. Instead, the letter calls for a new approach to climate and energy policy in Australia.

"The time has come for the Rudd government to take an ambitious nation-building approach to climate policy. Labor should commit to a renewable energy project with the scale and vision of a Snowy Mountains Scheme for the 21st Century," says Beyond Zero Emissions Executive Director Matthew Wright, referring to the massive hydroelectric system that was the largest engineering project ever to take place in Australia.

Wright says that the federal government should be spending at least as much on clean energy as it is in it's new national broadband plan, which is expected to invest $42 billion over the next 8 years.

Former Breakthrough Generation Fellow Leigh Ewbank has helped spearhead this initiative over the last year. Last month, he wrote an op-ed calling for such a project in Australia's national broadcaster, ABC, and has also helped organize the effort as Director of Public Policy for Beyond Zero Emissions.

With climate policy in disarray here in the United States as well, leading environmental organizations and progressives would do well to look to our friends in Australia for a new model to move away from compromised and politically unsustainable emissions trading and toward major public investments in clean energy innovation and infrastructure to create a prosperous clean energy economy.

Here is the full press release of the letter:
 


Frustrated by Rudd's ETS Backflip, Thousands Call for Massive Federal Budget Investment in Renewable Energy.

MELBOURNE - Frustrated by the Rudd Government's inaction on climate change, a broad coalition of prominent Australians and organisations representing hundreds of thousands of people have signed an open letter calling for the government to massively increase renewable energy investment in tomorrow's federal budget.

Notable signatories include:


  • Progressive online campaign organisation Get Up!, boasting over 350,000 supporters

  • Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics

  • Leading climate scientist Professor David Karoly

  • Guy Pearse, Research Fellow at the Global Change Institute and author of High and Dry

  • Major national environmental organisations Friends of the Earth, Environment Victoria and Greenpeace Australia

  • The Australian Youth Climate Coalition, with a membership of over 50,000

  • Renewable energy advocate the Alternative Technology Association

  • Renewable energy industry group the Australian Solar Energy Society

  • The independent think tank The Australian Institute

  • The Electrical Trades Union Victoria

  • Over 30 community-based climate groups from around Australia.



"The time has come for the Rudd government to take an ambitious nation-building approach to climate policy. Labor should commit to a renewable energy project with the scale and vision of a Snowy Mountains Scheme for the 21st Century," says Beyond Zero Emissions Executive Director Matthew Wright.

"There is a critical need for public investment in large-scale renewable energy projects and climate-friendly infrastructure. These projects are the best way to reduce Australia's emissions and protect the nation from dangerous climate change," says Matthew Wright.

"Most Australians would be shocked that the Rudd government is investing up to 28 times more money in the broadband rollout than in renewable energy and climate-friendly infrastructure. With a funding differential like this, it's reasonable to presume that our Prime Minister considers slow internet a greater moral challenge than climate change."

Wright says, "Public investment in sustainable infrastructure should match the investment in the National Broadband Network at a bare minimum."


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