Australia’s Coal Use Surges

In Australasia, News Headlines, Pollution

Australia’s use of renewable energy as an electricity source has slumped as a percentage of total output over the past 50 years with an increasing reliance on polluting coal, research showed Tuesday.

A report, “Australia?s Electricity Generation Mix 1960-2009”, shows that renewable energy provided 19 percent of the nation?s electricity in 1960 but only seven percent by 2008.

During the same period Australia?s overall energy use grew more than 10-fold with coal power increasing by 1,200 percent.

“Sadly, we?ve made little progress in cleaning up our electricity supply over the past 50 years,” said Mark Wakeham from Environment Victoria, a leading non-government organisation that commissioned the report.

“The growth of polluting coal generation far outpaces the growth of renewable energy. This is a shocking performance given the strength of Australia’s renewable energy resources.

“This trend has continued over the past decade despite an array of state and national climate change programmes.

“What this research clearly shows is that without a price on carbon the Australian economy will continue with pollution-as-usual.”

Australians are among the world’s worst per capita carbon polluters and over the years various national schemes have been proposed to reduce harmful emissions, but none has ever been implemented.

Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard is planning a carbon tax to be levied on major industrial polluters by July 1, 2012, and then move to a full emissions trading scheme in three to five years.

But the plan has seen her personal popularity and Labor’s standing plunge with the majority of voters opposed to the idea.

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