Environmental Justice in Australia
Australia's Solar Industry, Rural Communities, Setback by Abbott
By Robert Clinton, 2015-07-14
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his administration have recently faced criticism for imposing harsh restrictions on the technology Australia's Clean Energy Finance Corporation is able to invest in. Created in 2012, the CEFC is, in essence, a government-funded subsidizer of Australia's clean energy technology that seeks to increase the country's sustainable power production and encourage the private sector to invest in emerging green technology. According to its website, CEFE invests in projects that "improve energy productivity for businesses across Australia, develop local industries and generate new employment opportunities", most recently a 12–year, $100 million partnership with Origin Energy to increase both residential and business consumers' access to solar energy. Solar energy, though, is a technology CEFC is no longer allowed to invest in after Abbott's Treasurer and Finance Minister sent a letter to the Corporation prohibiting investment in this industry in favor of, in Abbott's words, focusing on "new and emerging technologies."

With climate change as pressing of an issue as ever, completely eliminating government funding for a proven clean energy source seems both irresponsible and counter–intuitive to Australia's 2020 target of decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions to 15% below the nation's 2000 levels. As one of the world's most sunlit nations, many of Australia's roofs are prime locations for solar panels, which harvest a renewable energy that saves consumers money and decreases dependence on energy sources that negatively affect our environment, such as coal. 87% of Australians are somewhat or strongly in favor of solar panels on homes, and 78% support large-scale solar energy facilities, according to a report released by market research company Ipsos. An article in Renewable Energy for Sustainable Development in the Asia Pacific Region states, "renewable energy systems represent the most environmentally friendly and cost effective means of providing electricity to those living in rural communities", a claim supported by an RAA study that found solar panels to be prevalent in Australia's poorest and most rural postal codes. "The CEFC has made a priority projects that help people who do not own their own homes, those who live in apartments and community groups to invest in solar panels," writes the Sydney Morning Herald, but with Abbott's regime's recent attack on clean energy, it seems Australia's most vulnerable populations, as well as our planet, will again be the victim of detrimental, rash political agendas.
Image: © Manuel Schönfeld - fotolia.com