There can be no climate action without renewable energy transmission lines | Declaration

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JOINT DECLARATION 12/14/21

Renewable energy transmission lines are essential for reducing pollution, protecting the climate and preserving nature.

Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energies is essential to avoid the worst impacts of global warming and keep our communities safe.

This is an important task that will require replacing all coal-fired power plants with renewables such as solar, wind and hydro, backed by storage, this decade. To achieve this successfully, we need renewable energy transmission lines to connect our homes, schools and workplaces to this cleaner, cheaper source of energy.

At this critical time, one of the biggest obstacles to replacing fossil fuels with renewables is to transform our electricity grid from one focused on coal regions to one focused on wind and solar regions.

We can’t all put solar panels on rooftops. Our energy-intensive industries as well as our hospitals, trains and essential services all require high volumes of electricity to keep operating. The rise of electric vehicles will lead to a dramatic increase in energy demand. On top of that, more and more industries that traditionally relied on oil and gas are electrifying themselves in order to be able to reduce their emissions.

That’s why we need renewable energy transmission lines to bring high volumes of next-generation renewable energy from areas rich in sun and wind to places where we need electricity. This will support our energy transformation; help us meet our international obligations to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees; and protect our communities, our natural environment and our endangered species from climate change.

Failure to act on the climate will lead to a deeper crisis for people and the planet. We are already seeing extreme weather events wreaking havoc on agriculture and regional communities. Climate change is one of the main drivers of species extinction, a crisis that is accelerating and must be stopped and reversed.

There can be no transition to renewable energies without transmission.

While coal and gas-fired power plants remain the primary source of emissions, our energy transformation is already well underway. Investors and energy consumers are increasingly favoring clean and cheap renewables over polluting fossil fuels. Coal-fired plants are expected to leave the national electricity grid by the mid-1930s, if not sooner.

To continue to replace coal as well as oil and gas, we must build new, extended transmission lines to bring reliable, affordable and renewable energy into our homes, schools and workplaces.

Currently, many transmission lines are operating at full capacity and cannot connect new renewable energy projects to the system, which means the transition to renewables is slowing, not accelerating. And there is a risk that the challenges of building renewable energy transmission lines will further delay the energy transformation we need. The Australian Energy Market Operator – the body responsible for managing our electricity grid – has identified the transmission lines that must proceed to connect the renewable energy areas already underway and meet our energy needs. Some of these lines are already well planned.

However, this does not happen fast enough. The timeframe for planning and constructing the necessary transmission lines does not currently match what is required to act in accordance with keeping global warming at 1.5 degrees and avoiding the worst climate impacts.

It has been decades since we built transmission line projects of this scale in Australia. Achieving this will require strong coordination between state and federal governments, energy market agencies, regulators and transportation companies. Planning processes must involve a greater role for regional communities and First Nations groups.

If we do this right, we can all benefit.

Our energy transformation must be fair and provide opportunities for Australians in the region in places where renewable energy transmission lines are planned.

The construction of renewable energy transmission lines will unlock jobs and economic development, especially in our regions. We call on governments and transportation companies to source as much steel and locally made green components as possible for transmission lines in order to maximize the number of regional jobs created by these large renewable energy projects. Government investment in training to prepare our workforce for the task ahead is necessary.

Benefits to regional communities also include other local jobs and opportunities resulting from the new wind, solar, storage and renewable hydrogen industries that the new transmission lines will enable.

Farmers and other landowners hosting transmission lines, wind turbines and solar panels on their land receive payments, which are already seen as a welcome way to diversify farm incomes. We call on governments to ensure transmission line payments are fair and allow all farms to continue to be productive under renewable energy transmission lines.

When transmission lines are constructed along existing easements and government lands, improvements to local amenities such as cycle paths, low-growing biodiversity corridors, and gardens should be planned in collaboration with the local community.

The communities that host the transmission lines need to be involved in the planning to ensure that local impacts are minimized and that real benefits are achieved. These processes must meet strict standards for protecting biodiversity and mitigating environmental impacts. Transportation companies have a responsibility to ensure that those directly affected, including traditional owner groups and local environmental groups, are actively involved in the planning process.

State and federal governments, energy market bodies, regulators and industry must work together to build renewable energy transmission lines fairly and at the pace required to meet international climate obligations.
As leading climate and environmental organizations, we support the fair and timely deployment of renewable energy transmission lines. These projects will help protect our environment, our ecosystems, our species, our regional communities, our precious places, as well as our towns and villages from the threat of climate change.

Sign,

The Climate Council

The Australian Conservation Foundation

Victoria environment

RE-Alliance

Solar citizens

The Queensland Conservation Council

Nature Conservation Council (NSW)

Friends of the Earth Melbourne


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