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  • Writer's pictureGregory Andrews

Paris Agreement Commitments Essential for Reducing Cost-of-Living Pressures

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has recently suggested that Australia should backtrack on our Paris Agreement targets, arguing among other reasons, that cost-of-living impacts of meeting these commitments are too steep. His perspective, however, is not only short-sighted but fundamentally flawed and irresponsible. The latest detailed analysis from the International Energy Agency (IEA) provides compelling evidence that accelerating the shift to renewable energy will alleviate, not exacerbate, cost of living pressures.

The IEA is the world's peak body and centre of expertise on energy. It's not biased towards particular sources of energy, like nuclear, renewables or coal. It's focused on energy security, efficiency and effectiveness. Its latest report on Strategies for Affordable and Fair Clean Energy Transitions has several critical points that counter Peter Dutton’s nonsense. Firstly, it is essential to understand the root cause of recent global energy price spikes. Contrary to misleading narratives that clean energy is to blame, the report shows clearly that global energy price hikes are being driven primarily by Russia’s drastic reduction in natural gas supplies. This crisis underscores the vulnerability of relying on fossil fuels, not the supposed risks of renewable energy investment which can actually help Australia decouple from global energy market instabilities.

Moreover, the report dismantles the myth that clean energy technologies are inherently more expensive than fossil fuels. Renewable options are now the most cost-effective choices available, especially when considering lifetime costs. For instance, in 2023, more than 95% of new utility-scale solar PV and onshore wind installations were cheaper than new coal and natural gas plants. The transition to renewables is thus not only environmentally necessary but economically prudent.

Additionally, a more electrified, renewables-rich energy system promises significant efficiency gains and lower operating costs. By 2035, the IEA projects that a global energy system aligned with net-zero emissions would operate at less than half the cost of one based on current fossil fuel policies. This reduction in running costs translates directly into lower energy bills for consumers, providing much-needed relief from the financial pressures that Peter Dutton claims should be addressed by back-tracking on clean energy targets.

And of course, the benefits extend beyond mere cost savings. A cleaner energy system also brings substantial health and environmental improvements. The IEA report predicts that increased clean electricity generation, combined with electrified transport and the phase-out of polluting fuels, will lead to 40% fewer deaths from air pollution by 2035 compared to current scenarios. These improvements in public health will reduce healthcare costs and enhance quality of life significantly.

The real economic threat lies not in the costs of transitioning to clean energy, but in the staggering price of climate change denialism and political mischief. Climate change is already impacting lives and livelihoods, and exacerbating cost of living pressures - particularly for our poorest and most vulnerable communities who endure the highest cost-of-living impacts. The IEA warns that without decisive action, these pressures will only intensify, resulting in higher costs across the board. Increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, disruptions to food and water supplies, and escalating health and insurance crises are just a few of the foreseeable consequences.

In light of this evidence, Dutton’s proposal to walk away from Australia’s Paris Agreement targets is not only unfounded but also dangerous and irresponsible. It's another example of how politicians play potlical football with Australians and our national interests. To protect ourselves from rising costs and to secure a sustainable future, we must galvanise and push harder and faster on renewables. The path to a safe and prosperous future for our kids and country, to lower costs, better health, and a more resilient economy, lies in accelerating the roll-out of clean energy.

Australia has the resources, technology, sunlight, wind and innovative spirit to lead the way in this global transition. We must not be distracted by mischievious politicians who value personal power more than our collective future. We must stay the course and accelerate renewable energy investment


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