Pears Report Collection

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  1. 1. From 1997 to 2016 Reflections on two decades. of energy and climate policy The Pears Report A collection of 75 articles from ReNew magazine by Alan Pears AM
  2. 2. Pears Report Collection The Alternative Technology Association (ATA) October 2016 The Alternative Technology Association (ATA) is a not-for-profit organisation that has been promoting renewable energy, sustainable building and water conservation since 1980. Level 1, 39 Little Collins St Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia Ph: (03) 9639 1500 Fax: (03) 9639 5814 Email: [email protected] Website: www.ata.org.au Reg No: A0017411T ABN: 57 533 056 318 While every care has been taken to ensure that the information contained within this booklet is accurate, the ATA takes no responsibility for claims made by content authors in this booklet. We have credited images as originally printed and have made an effort, for this collection, to trace and acknowledge image ownership. Several of the images pre-date digital archiving, which has made this process difficult and has perhaps resulted in omissions. However, if you are the owner of an image that has been unacknowledged or incorrectly attributed, please contact the ATA by email with the correct details and we will update the citation as required. Please also note that any references to websites, contact emails or phone numbers noted in the original Pears Report columns have not been updated for this collection, and may no longer be correct or relevant. No part of this booklet may be reproduced without permission. Acknowledgements: Thank you to Alan Pears for permission to present his 75 ReNew magazine columns in this collection, and for contributing additional summary content for the introduction. Thank you to former Australian Greens leader and senator Christine Milne for providing the foreword. Thank you to the RMIT Sustainability Committee Seedlings Fund for providing a grant to support the production of this collection. Thank you to the editorial team responsible for bringing this collection together: Robyn Deed, Eva Matthews, Jacinta Cleary and Stephen Whately. Design: Calan Stanley, PrintTogether.
  3. 3. Pears Report Collection 3 Foreword IN 2015, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties, history was made. Faced with accelerating global warming and a rapidly closing window of opportunity to address it, world leaders agreed to constrain global warming to less than 2C and to pursue 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. They also agreed to do it without compromising the ability of people everywhere to access energy. The world had chosen a future powered by renewable energy. As a result, questions about what the end of the fossil fuel age looks like and how to either drive or block the revolution around how we generate and use energy, has begun to occupy the minds of politicians, policy makers, investors and communities worldwide. While some are inspired to rise to the challenge and to embrace the opportunities that existing technologies provide, others are struggling to come to terms with the magnitude and speed of the systemic shift that is required. At one end of the spectrum, some see the potential in virtual power plants networks of batteries, solar panels and energy-efficient buildings linked together by remotely controlled software and data systemsand, at the other, people still cling to the old order of vested interests echoing fossil fuel base load across the floors of parliaments and financial institutions. Anyone would think that this is a new conundrum and an unanticipated, wicked problem. It is not. For over 30 years, Alan Pears has been teasing out the complexities and absurdities of energy and climate policy in Australia. His foresight and lateral thinking, together with his practical experience, has made him the go to authority on energy efficiency for the whole of my parliamentary career, going back to 1989. He has advised and assisted people of all political persuasions, governments, policy makers, researchers and non-government organisations, with a generosity of time and spirit and a degree of patience that makes him a national treasure. To have this detailed, accurate and thoughtful collection of columns covering such a wide range of energy and climate- related issues over such a long period of time is an invaluable resource. It helps people make sense of a complicated area of policy and provides an understanding of exactly how Australia has ended up with a one step forward, two steps back policy outcome on climate and renewable energy, and an even worse energy efficiency result. But Alan Pears doesnt just document by Christine Milne oFormer leader of the Australian Greens (201215) and senator for Tasmania; environmental and community activist for 30 years, Christine Milne. Photo:KarenBrown g Back
  4. 4. Pears Report Collection 4 Alan Pears doesnt just document what has happened...he provides a platform for action by insightful comment on what can still be done. what has happened. He provides analysis and ideas as to how things could have been done differently if the political will had existed. More than that, he provides a platform for action by insightful comment on what can still be done. In my lifetime, the most amazing change has occurred and its evolution is a constant theme in Alans columns. We have gone from a time when you had little control over how much energy you used and no control over where it came from; when you were forced to be a passive recipient of power and petrol bills, and subjected to the whims of government or corporate rules and regulations. Now, people are taking control. It is possible to generate your own electricity from home or work, and increasingly control your own supply and demand, even to the point of making a profit from it, powering your car with it and reducing your costs and emissions to zero via storage. The vested interests of the fossil fuel age and their government representatives have not woken up to the fact that, while they can still block, frustrate and delay this revolution, they cannot stop it. The world has passed them by. What a source of hope for the planet! The tragedy for our nation is the chaos and scale of the disruption, stranded assets and debt that is coming. Those who are in power are so blinded by their cosy relationships with, and income streams from, fossil fuels and existing networks that they fail to take advantage of the imagination and jobs that the renewable energy future and the climate challenge generate. They should be embracing and celebrating the projects and employment that the Renewable Energy Target, Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority have facilitated, instead of trying to tear them down. But all is not lost. I am optimistic that our built environment, the amenity of our homes and offices, the efficiency of our transport systems, and our capacity to bring down emissions by taking back powerliterally and metaphorically will continue to explode. But there is one initiative that would make a huge difference... Alan Pears and I agree that a major component of what is preventing the Australian community from contributing even more to a net-zero carbon society is the National Electricity Market. It is broken. After the two Senate inquiries I ran, it is obvious that the market is designed to favour fossil fuels, the incumbent coal and gas generators and the network providers at huge cost to the climate and the community. My dissenting reports argued for the inclusion of an environmental objective requiring the market to deliver on greenhouse gas reduction, as well as reliable supply and affordable cost. What is fascinating from reading Alan Pears work is to learn that, at the very beginningwhen the NEM was being designedan environmental objective was proposed, but rejected. What a difference that would have made to the energy landscape in Australia today if that had been adopted. What a difference it will make when that change is made now. Its up to all of us to make it happen. I hope, after reading these columns, you will be inspired to become an even more dedicated climate and energy activist. We have no time to lose. We need rigorous policy, inspiring advocacy and rapid implementation to empower people, halt climate change and save the planet. Alan Pears has given us a great place to start. He has provided the platform from which we can all fly. g Back
  5. 5. Pears Report Collection 5 Pears Report Collection ONE of the things that struck me when I started working on ReNew was the number of people who commented on the Pears Report, on how important it was to them, and how it was the first thing theyd read each issue. Inspired by this, I wrote in my first editorial that Alan Pears was so good wed included him twice (in his report and an article on the carbon tax). In a later issue we even got to include him three times; its clear from our surveys and general feedback that our readers love Alan and they want more! I see Alans columns and articles as encapsulating everything ReNew is about. They are passionate, practical and analytical; they dont take the easy way out, with slogans or catch-cries, but rather seek to tease out subtle but transformative ways of looking at climate policy and, of course, energy efficiency. Two cases in point spring to mind for me. One was Alans article on energy use in cooking. This can be a contentious area, as it is one of the lesser users of energy in the home and we dont necessarily want to discourage cooking. Yet, its also clear that we could be doing a lot better. Why waste energy? The other is the notion of the rebound effect, which Alan so carefully analysed in a recent article, seeking to shift the emphasis from the negative to the possibility of positive flow-on effects. It turns out the idea of flow-on effects had appeared before, in