Queensland, my home state in Australia, has a coal mining heritage that will be a major challenge for global warming abatement. How and when we can make a just transition from coal to renewable energy sources is one of the top concerns of the climate activist movements that protest in Brisbane, such as Australian Parents for Climate Action, School Strike 4 Climate, Stop Adani and Extinction Rebellion (XR).
The Jacarandas were in bloom as I strolled home past New Farm Park on Saturday afternoon. I stopped to take a photo. My timing was perfect, it seemed, because Trevor Evans our federal member for Brisbane was under his tent top open for consultation with his constituents. No queue, I walked right up to him and told him that the biggest worry for me as a grandmother was the health of the planet. What state of deterioration would I be handing over to my precious grand children? What was Queensland government doing to divest from fossil fuel?
Clearly we were not divesting anytime soon, and I knew that would be the case because Brisbane City Council (BCC) had recently refused to declare a climate emergency when many other councils already had. But in fairness to Trevor he redirected me to the positive achievements and innovations that were moving us in the right direction. Number one on his list was that BCC was carbon neutral certified.
We discussed how energy storage, a major challenge for transitioning to renewable energy was being addressed. He was proud of the Snowy Hydro Project designed to push water uphill when wind and solar energy are plentiful and release it when required during prolonged weather events. Mountainous terrain is scarce in Australia, so hydro-electricity projects will not proliferate. However, in the tiny island State of Tasmania we do have a few mountains, and there are already big plans to position Tasmania as the renewable energy Battery of the Nation by building a connecting tunnel to the mainland under Bass Straight.
While I’m heartened by these innovative steps toward a more sustainable future, Queensland’s relationship with coal remains the elephant in the room. There is no plan to phase out coal, not now and not in the foreseeable future. There’s not even a hint of a carbon tax to account for the external costs of polluting the atmosphere. Our State and Federal governments are willfully destroying Planet Earth, our home, our habitat, the most precious heirloom that can be passed on to a grandchild.