Originally published in The Guardian on October 19, 2023

Australia is already an energy superpower, but our governments have lacked the courage to use that power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

As the Australian Government continues to pursue policies notionally designed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, a great store has been placed in Australia becoming a “renewable energy superpower”. However as Labour Market and Fiscal Policy Director, Greg Jericho, notes in his Guardian Australia column, Australia already is an energy superpower. But we fail to use that power for good.

Australia is either the world’s largest or second-largest exporter of metallurgical coal, thermal coal and LNG. And yet we have not sought to use this power to pursue policies that would reduce demand for fossil fuels and transition the world towards renewable energy. Instead, we placate mining companies and give no timeline to end coal and gas use. We continue to approve new coal mines and fail to insert a climate-change trigger into environment protection legislation that determines whether new mines can be approved.

Given September this year was the hottest September on record, after August this year being the hottest August on record, July this year being the hottest July on record and June this year being the hottest June on record, the time for action that reduces Australia’s and the world’s emissions is urgent and critical.

Climate change is one area where Australia can legitimately take a leading role in global affairs, our power as an energy producer and supplier of fossil fuels which continue to exacerbate climate change demands we show this leadership.

For too long Australian governments have cowered before mining companies, now it’s the time to realise we have the minerals they want now and in the future when renewable energy becomes the dominant power and thus we can dictate terms.

Leadership requires the grasping of power and using it for good.

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