Victoria can lead against climate change

Many of us were on holidays in last January’s heatwave. But Victoria’s ambulance officers were hard at work and on Friday 17th January they responded to seven times the usual number of cardiac arrest calls. The death rate rose as Melbourne baked at over 40 degrees, four days in a row.

Presumably the Abbott government weren’t fussed about heatwaves when they removed the carbon tax. But while Liberal dinosaurs were celebrating a fossil fuel win, the economics of energy have been changing.

New South Wales is building large solar farms. In South Australia one in four homes has solar panels, and rooftops like the supermarket shown here are commonplace. Last month 43% of S.A.’s power came from wind, with another large wind farm recently completed.

Meanwhile Victoria keeps burning brown coal, making ours the most polluting state in Australia, which has about the highest emissions per person in the world. But the state election on 29 November could trigger real change if we can get a few Greens in the Victorian lower house for the first time.

The Greens want to remove the crippling restrictions on wind farms, and make power companies pay for rooftop solar power feed-ins at the same rate they charge for power they supply. We want a ban on brown coal exports and coal seam gas, and to plan the retirement of our coal-fired power stations. Our plans to improve Melbourne’s public transport and bike paths will make it easier to save fuel and leave the car at home. Improving the energy efficiency of new buildings and houses will cut power bills and emissions.

With Greens MPs winning in seats like Brunswick, we can flick the switch from being leaders in pollution to leading in climate action. By next summer we should have made a start.