By Affiliate Professor Jonathan Pickering, Canberra College of Politics, Economics and Society, College of Canberra
Australia is within the midst of a generational shift in how we produce the power that powers our society. However the tempo of the transition to renewable sources of power wants to choose up if Australia is to play its half in international efforts to restrict temperature rise. A faster-paced transition can be important to safeguard the reliability of our electrical energy system as ageing coal-fired energy crops retire.
The power transition presents alternatives to lower power bills, create jobs and address the health problems related to burning fossil fuels. However until plans for the transition are rigorously designed, alternatives might be misplaced to profit from these upsides.
Towards this backdrop, it’s important that power insurance policies are designed and carried out in ways in which advance relatively than undermine group wellbeing. A helpful lens for fascinated about this problem is the concept of coverage coherence. Policy coherence, in a nutshell, refers back to the thought of designing insurance policies in order that a number of goals complement or reinforce one another relatively than undermine each other. Australia has pledged to advance “coverage coherence for sustainable growth” as a part of its commitment to the UN Sustainable Improvement Objectives.
The query of how Australia may obtain a extra coherent power transition was the main focus of a workshop held on the College of Sydney in late September 2023 which introduced collectively round 30 researchers and practitioners in particular person and on-line. The workshop was co-hosted by the Sydney Atmosphere Institute and the College of Canberra’s new Centre for Environmental Governance, with help from a project funded by the Swedish Analysis Council for Sustainable Improvement. The workshop constructed on the experiences of policy-makers, NGOs and companies in addition to latest analysis, together with on a just transition from coal, critical minerals, the Real Deal initiative, and the rollout of photo voltaic and wind infrastructure in regional New South Wales.
A number of key themes emerged from the workshop. First, following latest adjustments of presidency there’s arguably extra coherence between federal and state ranges on power coverage now than in earlier years, together with stronger cooperation throughout these ranges. There have been some important improvements that purpose to construct synergies between the power transition and group wellbeing, together with ongoing work to co-design a First Nations Clean Energy Strategy. State insurance policies such because the New South Wales Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap search to ship advantages to regional communities internet hosting a significant scale-up of photo voltaic and wind infrastructure.
Nevertheless, present coverage settings reveal important tensions between some goals. Some types of incoherence could also be inadvertent attributable to elements akin to uncertainty, for instance if renewable power tasks are delayed or don’t yield anticipated ranges of profit attributable to risky circumstances in international markets. Nevertheless, some types of incoherence can be strategic. A key space of strategic incoherence for Australia is ongoing help for coal and gas exports concurrently home power manufacturing is shifting away from these fuels. Different types of incoherence could replicate inconsistent positions throughout totally different components of presidency, akin to new draft planning guidelines that will make it much harder for wind tasks in NSW to achieve approval and will considerably constrain progress on the Roadmap.
Even when there’s a point of coherence within the content material of insurance policies, coherence in implementation could be difficult. For instance, businesses delivering the NSW Roadmap have encountered challenges in partaking successfully with communities and delivering on guarantees to spice up jobs and financial exercise in regional areas.
Second, incoherence can come up not solely from failures of coordination or institutional capability constraints but additionally from a greater diversity of sources, together with vested pursuits, gender and racial discrimination, legacies of colonialism, and electoral incentives (e.g. delivering conflicting messages to totally different teams to safe their help).
Third, an important ingredient in a extra coherent method is best understanding of the wants and views of various teams who must be concerned within the power transition, together with these of culturally and linguistically various communities, First Nations folks, rural communities and low-income households. Additionally it is important to grasp the relationships, energy dynamics and variety of views inside every of those communities.
Lastly, numerous limitations must be overcome to make sure that communities can profit from the power transition. For instance, training must be extra accessible to employees in regional areas in order that they’ll safe good jobs within the renewable power trade. Communities want entry to trusted and applicable info on points such because the siting of proposed large-scale renewable power tasks, choices for changing their energy use, or how to set up a community energy project. And renewable power industries have to foster more inclusive workplace cultures, which ought to assist to elevate the participation of girls, First Nations folks and totally different cultural teams in these industries.
The discussions on the workshop knowledgeable a submission to a Community Engagement Review on renewable power infrastructure that’s at the moment underway. The Evaluate is being coordinated by the Australian Vitality Infrastructure Commissioner, Andrew Dyer, and is because of report by the top of December 2023.
The submission (pdf, 162KB) makes a spread of suggestions on how the power transition could possibly be extra coherent, significantly in Renewable Vitality Zones. Suggestions embody:
- Shifting from extra transactional, fragmented modes of group engagement to longer-term, coordinated modes of engagement that construct relationships of belief;
- Growing narratives that articulate the roles of rural and concrete communities within the power transition extra convincingly;
- Proactive efforts to pre-empt and counter misinformation;
- Strengthening regulatory incentives and monetary help for group power tasks;
- Structuring group profit applications in order that communities have a say in what’s funded and that funded actions ship significant advantages; and
- Sharing data throughout Australian jurisdictions on the group wellbeing implications of the renewable power transition, together with on coverage choices and classes from implementation.
An related mission report might be launched later this yr. Whereas the workshop highlighted how rather more must be carried out to attain a coherent power transition, it additionally highlighted the worth of bringing collectively researchers and practitioners from totally different backgrounds to generate new views and determine areas of widespread floor.