Labor announces plans for an energy transition

The Guardian reported on Labor’s new energy & climate policy yesterday: “Bill Shorten unveils $15bn energy plan to help tackle climate ‘disaster'”

Eight coal-fired power stations are set to close over the next two decades because they have reached the end of their operating life, and Labor’s higher emissions reduction target will drive a faster rationalisation.

Shorten unveiled a coal transition plan on Thursday, including a $10m training fund to skill workers in the coal-fired power sector to work in renewable energy, overseen by a Just Transition Authority coordinating the eventual plant closures.

There will also be enhanced industrial relations arrangements for displaced coal workers. Labor will insist that power plant operators and coalmine operators participate in pooled redundancy schemes to ensure workers are given offers of employment at a nearby power station or coalmine, subject to enough positions being created.

Shorten said the objective of the plan was to build the essential energy infrastructure to power industry and manufacturing, while helping households cut their power bills with more renewables and storage.

He said too much time had been lost in the climate and energy wars of the past decade and governments needed to act, not only to safeguard communities against the impact of global warming but also create the industries of the future.

“We will only achieve this if we move now,” Shorten said. “You only get one chance to get in on the ground floor. If the politics of the nation gets bogged down for another three or four years of infighting, of inertia … the moment will be missed.

“The world is very unforgiving for nations who do not take the opportunities that are presented to them.”

Shorten said plans for direct investment in the energy network could “not be hostage to the climate sceptics in the parliament”.

“We will act to bring down power prices and to boost these new blue-collar and green-collar industries. And, in a time of rapid economic and industrial change and disruption, only Labor will make it a priority to help workers and communities affected adapt to the transition.”