The Queensland Government has made some very significant policy commitments to boost clean energy in the Sunshine State ahead of the October 31 election. The impact of these announcements is huge. They sustain large scale renewable energy production that was about to rapidly decrease. They bring together unions and environmental organisations in coalition. They are overwhelmingly popular, and now have bipartisan support. And they are an essential step to create the infrastructure and generation we need to become a renewable superpower, and to confidently close coal-fired power in Queensland.
Earlier this year the Queensland Conservation Council approached AEGN member the Morris Family Foundation for $50,000 for core support for their clean energy work. The aim of this work was, ahead of the Queensland election slated for 31 October 2020, to ensure bipartisan support for clean energy policies that will ensure Queensland becomes a clean energy superpower.
The timing of this funding request could not have been more perfect for the Morris Family Foundation, who are increasingly interested in supporting action on climate change which boosts regional development and local jobs. Six months in and the partnership is delivering great outcomes for both the grantmaker and grantseeker, as well as for the future of regional Queensland.
In recent weeks, the Queensland Government has taken significant action to fund large scale renewable energy generation. These announcements have followed significant public and behind the scenes pressure by a range of environmental and other civil society organisations.
Major funding for renewables
First on 20 August, the Queensland Premier announced $145 million in funding to begin the establishment of three Renewable Energy Corridors in south west, central and northern Queensland. This funding is for planning the zones, as well as initial investments in the transmission infrastructure necessary for the zones to be successful.
Then on 7 September, the Queensland Treasurer announced a $500 million Renewable Energy Fund to invest in publicly owned renewable electricity generation and transmission. Queensland is one of the few states that still has a majority publicly owned electricity system, so this direct government investment in new clean energy projects is a big breakthrough.
One of the hallmarks of this work has been the remarkable cooperation between all of the organisations involved. The renewable energy campaign in Queensland has also had valued support from a number of philanthropists and grantmakers, whose combined investment is clearly bearing fruit.
Collaboration leading to long term impact
Queensland Conservation Council has been working closely alongside other environmental organisations including Solar Citizens, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Environmental Defenders Office and World Wildlife Fund Australia. Most importantly there has also been successful cooperation between a range of sectors beyond the environment movement including unions, the renewable energy industry, faith groups, and others.
Key actions by the partner groups that contributed to these big policy announcements include:
- Direct advocacy to the Energy Minister, Environment Minister, Premier and Treasurer;
- Media and research demonstrating the value of large-scale renewables and new industries and the job opportunities they create;
- Petitions and online actions and social media campaigns;
- Raising visibility through advertising and Solar Citizens campaign office in Townsville;
- Meetings with Labor Party MPs across Queensland, asking them to sign a pledge for publicly owned renewables; and
- A 900 strong assembly by the Queensland Community Alliance where demands for the Renewable Energy Zones and Publicly owned renewables were put to the Premier and Opposition leader.
All parties are hoping for further announcements by the Government and the opposition before the 31 October election, and will be continuing to advocate for further steps to encourage energy efficiency incentives, support for small scale batteries, and solar for public housing.