Australia says a new government agency that will guide coal-dominated areas away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy will start work in July. The Net Zero Authority will support workers in finding new jobs and training, coordinate official policy and advise businesses.
Australia has some of the highest per capita rates of greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world.
The government says the new Net Zero Authority will “proactively manage the transformation to a clean energy economy”, adding that the “global transformation to a net zero economy is a massive source of economic opportunity for Australia.”
Business groups, conservationists and academics have been calling for an overarching body to help co-ordinate Australia’s energy transition.
The new agency is supported by trade unions, which are eager for their members in the mining and energy sectors to be retrained in the new green economy.
Anna Skarbek, chief executive officer of the Climate Works Center, an independent non-profit organization, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Tuesday that the Net Zero Authority will have a positive impact.
“It is right for a national government to set this up especially in an economy like Australia that has a federal government and state governments,” Skarbek said. “But also, it is right to give it three focus areas and that is to support the workers in emissions-intensive areas and it is also to coordinate government policies and programs across many governments and to coordinate with investors and the companies who will be doing much of the investment.”
Australia has a target to cut carbon emissions by 43% from 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Electricity generation in Australia continues to be dominated by coal and gas.
However, the shift to renewable sources of power in Australia appears unstoppable.
An April 2023 report by the Clean Energy Council, an industry association, reported that clean energy accounted for 35.9% of Australia’s total electricity generation in 2022.
This was an increase from 32.5% in 2021.
The report stated that there was “still a significant way to go if Australia is to meet its ambition of 82% renewables by 2030” but there has “nevertheless been encouraging progress.”
Solar and wind power dominate Australia’s green energy sources.
The Clean Energy Council has estimated that about 3.4 million Australian households now have rooftop solar systems.