The Victorian Parliament has legislated for zero net emissions by 2050.
The Victorian Parliament has legislated for zero net emissions by 2050. Image Credit: RenewReporter

Legislation that enshrines the Victorian Government’s zero emissions by 2050 target into law has passed Parliament, as a new poll shows overwhelming support amongst Victorians for the policy.

Strengthened emissions reduction targets

Legislation pursued by the Victorian Labor Government passed the Victorian upper house with the support of the Greens, Sex Party and the Vote 1 Local Jobs parties. The legislation locks into place the state’s ambitions to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.

The legislation also and requires the Government to set five-yearly interim emissions reduction targets and the development of adaptation plans as responses to climate change.

Friends of the Earth, who have run a concerted campaign encouraging the Victorian Government to take more ambitious action on climate change in the state, welcomed the passage of the Climate Change bill.

“Community members who are seeing the impacts of climate change will welcome the strengthened climate change laws,” Friends of the Earth climate spokesperson Leigh Ewbank said.

“We commend the Andrews government and all MPs who supported the bill which will help prevent climate change from worsening and prepare communities for the impacts that are now locked in.”

News of the legislation’s passage comes as polling commissioned by Sustainability Victoria shows high levels of approval for the renewable energy plan, with 84 per cent of Victorian residents canvassed indicating approval.

“Evidence confirms that Victorians love renewable energy, with the vast majority of people approving of the Victorian Renewable Energy Target, which will create up to 10,000 climate jobs and attract $2.5 billion in investment to the state,” Friends of the Earth’s renewable energy spokesperson Pat Simons said.

Popular support for renewables

The Climate Change Social Research initiative completed by Sustainability Victoria gauged Victorian’s opinions on a range of propositions relating to climate change action and renewable energy. The research found that 93% of Victorians wanted the Victorian state Government to act on climate change.

A vast majority of Victorians supported the specific renewable energy targets adopted by the Victorian Labor Government. 84% of Victorians supported the tiered renewable energy targets of 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2025 that have been adopted by Victorian Labor.

State based targets have been the subject of ongoing attacks from the Federal Coalition Government. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in an address to the National Press Club on 1 February, has considered State legislated renewable energy targets unachievable.

“States are setting huge renewable targets, far beyond that of the national RET, with no consideration given to the baseload power and storage needed for stability.” Prime Minister Turnbull said in his press club address.

“In Victoria, the closure of Hazelwood will cost the state 20 per cent of its electricity generating capacity. Yet the Victorian Labor Government supports a 40 per cent renewable target and opposes all onshore gas development – conventional and unconventional – while Victorian gas reserves are beginning to decline as exploration fails to replace production.”

Citing the research released by Sustainability Victoria, Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio pointed to the popular support for the state’s renewable energy and climate action plans.

“Victorians accept the science and know that climate change is not only real, but that government, industry and the wider community must work together to fight it.” Minister D’Ambrosio said.

“We’re investing in new sources of energy, but we’re also investing in energy conservation and more efficient buildings so the energy we produce is not wasted.”

“Climate change is a complex issue which requires a strategic approach, long-term investment and community action to combat its affects.”

The polling provides a strong basis for the Victorian Government to push for expanded renewable energy targets, and current policy supports achieving 40% renewable energy by 2025, and an interim target of 25% by 2020. Victoria previously operated its own certificate based renewable energy target, until it was rolled into the Federal scheme, upon its expansion by the Rudd Government.

It continues a trend of State and Territory Governments where the Labor party holds power have been implementing their own plans for increasing renewable energy generation in response to slower ambitions form the Federal Government.

Editorial Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Victorian Government had passed legislation for a 40% renewable energy target. The article has been corrected to reflect that legislation put in place a zero net emissions target by 2050.

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