Over the past couple of months we’ve launched Energy Justice Victoria, a vision for ambitious changes to Victoria's current energy system. It aims to connect the dots between coal, climate change, energy poverty and corporate corruption, demanding access to clean, fair and affordable energy for all. Public, democratic control and ownership of energy is an essential part of reworking our energy system and transitioning to 100% renewable energy.
“The real solutions to the climate crisis are also our best hope of building a much more enlightened economic system, one that closes deep inequalities, strengthens and transforms the public sphere, generates plentiful, dignified work and radically reins in corporate power.” - Klein
Our Failing Energy System
We all know that we need a rapid transition away from coal. Coal kills, it pollutes, it’s outdated and with over 16 coal breakdowns in Victoria this Summer, it’s undermining the reliability of our grid.
But we’ve also realised that quitting coal isn’t the whole solution. Our energy system is a mess after years of privatisation - prices are skyrocketing, power is held in corporate companies hands & energy poverty is on the rise for low-income communities.
Privatisation was set to give us greater choice and lower prices and yet, electricity prices have risen continuously. Since the mid-2000s this increase began to rise rapidly and we are now paying nearly twice as much for electricity as we did a decade ago.
Our choices are limited. The Victorian retail energy market is dominated by three big corporations who control more than 60% of the market, and who have profits that are up to double the average of other forms of retail businesses.
Risks of energy poverty and disconnections are increasing. More of our state’s lowest income and most vulnerable people are struggling to pay their electricity bills.
“It is not socially just that profits extracted from vital public services are used to line the pockets of shareholders when they could and should be reinvested in those services or used to reduce consumer bills.” Corbyn.
On top of that, these profits are made from burning coal that is having huge health impacts for local communities and massive impacts on our climate. It is only fair that the Latrobe Valley community are listened to and supported in transitioning their economy and livelihoods away from coal.
The Political Situation
The Andrews government has made some ambitious actions so far on climate change. They’ve set the Victorian Renewable Energy Target, strengthened the Climate Change Act & legislated a permanent ban on Unconventional Gas. But the lack of Federal Government leadership on climate means that states must ramp up measures to rapidly reduce greenhouse pollution and transition our economy away from our current reliance on coal. The state Liberals are in opposition now, but could be in power within a year. They are saying nothing on climate policy and instead call for new coal power stations and extensions for coal licenses.
There’s no more time to defer strong climate action. We need both parties if we want to be a leader in climate action and protect Victoria from the impacts of climate change. We are pushing the Andrew’s government to continue to prove its climate credentials and rebuild Victoria’s energy system so that it works for all of us. We have the technology, we just need the political will, and for that we need you.
Our Vision/The Solution
The challenge of climate change requires us to radically shift the way we organise our economy. To start designing an energy system for the 21st century - that’s clean, fair and affordable - we need to start talking about energy democracy and public ownership of our vital services.
Off the back of our Gasfield free campaign, we want to sustain and build flourishing and resilient networks of Victorian communities that are engaged in creating these changes. We intend to work with both urban and regional communities to rework our system that puts people's needs and our planets needs over the profits of big energy companies.
That’s why we are sowing the seeds for the creation of a publicly-owned, non-profit, 100% renewable energy retailer - giving people clean energy at close to cost price as possible.
We also want to support new and existing community energy projects – run by groups of citizens – that have the potential to boost our “civil society” energy sector. All the while, we make sure no new fossil fuel projects or “clean coal” technologies go ahead in this state.
CASE STUDY: Where else is this happening?
The Scottish Government has recently announced it will set up a publicly-owned, not-for-profit energy company, where renewable energy would be bought wholesale or generated here in Scotland and sold to customers as close to cost price as possible.
The Solar Citizens are also campaigning for this in South Australia and it’s been a hot election issue.
Our 2018 election asks for the Victorian Government:
- Commit to a publicly-owned, 100% renewable, not-for-profit energy retailer, that gives people access to clean energy at cost price.
- Rule out any new coal in Victoria & any further public funding for new coal technologies (including experimental coal to gas and coal-to-fertiliser, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) programs.)
- Allocate substantial funds (minimum $80m per year) for economic transition and diversification projects away from coal in the Latrobe Valley.
- Maintain the moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling.
- Create a clear & ambitious pathway towards Victoria’s emissions reduction by committing to an ERT higher than the Feds (see Act on Climate for more).
- Get involved in the campaign by joining the Quit Coal collective.
- Set up an Energy Justice group in your local area (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Get family, friends and neighbours to complete our Energy Justice survey
- Make a donation to help keep Quit Coal’s ongoing work as we fight for clean, fair and affordable energy.