When people think about climate action, they picture solar panels and wind farms, but there's another less well-known but just as crucial ingredient in Australia's clean energy shift.
Essential to reaching a climate-stable future is a technology each of us rely on everyday - transmission lines, those steel towers and wires that carry electricity to our homes, schools and workplaces. In this critical decade for our climate, one of the greatest barriers to replacing fossil fuels, like coal and gas, with renewable energy is transforming our grid from one centred around polluting coal, to one centred around clean, reliable and affordable wind and solar.
Many of these essential towers and wires infrastructure projects are already underway, including the Western Victoria Transmission Line, Project Energy Connect that stretches from Wagga Wagga to South Australia, and the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone link.
This week, key climate and environmental advocacy organisations across Australia released a joint statement urging governments, energy market bodies, regulators, and transmission companies to work together with regional communities to deliver these lines rapidly and fairly. Signatories include the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Climate Council, Environment Victoria, the Queensland Conservation Council, the Conservation Council of NSW and others. We've come together in this joint statement because we care deeply about the future of Australian communities and ecosystems - and recognise there cannot be a clean energy transition without new transmission lines. In the statement, we outline why this is so important now, and what governments, regulators and industry must do to build renewable energy transmission lines fairly and in line with the pace required to meet international climate obligations.
Disruption to local habitats must also be avoided wherever possible. Transmission companies must seek guidance from Traditional Owners and conservation groups to find the least disruptive path and identify priorities to mitigate impacts, including funding to protect local species and habitats.
The signatories support the fair and timely rollout of renewable energy transmission lines. These projects are essential for protecting our climate, ecosystems, species, and regional communities, towns and cities from the threat of climate change.
Read the statement: www.climatecouncil.org.au/transmission-joint-statement.
- Lesley Hughes, climate councillor, biology professorand pro vice-chancellor at Macquarie University