Energy transition in Australia
Greenpeace Australia Pacific (Energy [R]evolution) and Beyond Zero Emissions (Zero Carbon Australia 2020  have issued reports to claim that a transition to renewable energy can be affordably made in Australia in the very near term - in years rather than decades.
Health and environmental benefits
Employment and justice implications
Such a transition will inevitably be disruptive; however the fossil fuel industries, including mining, are not large employers relative to their capital investment and revenues. It is likely that a transition to renewables, aside from obvious health and environmental benefits, will also provide a net increase in employment.
Nonetheless, all economic changes and progress have winners and losers, and Greenpeace has called for a just transition for coal based communities.
The future of coal and gas
As methane is a relatively low carbon footprint fuel, compared to coal, coal seam gas has been presented as progress towards mitigating climate change; however it has received strong opposition and suggestions that leakage causes it to be worse than coal, among other negative impacts.
Coal and other fossil fuels cannot be a part of a low carbon future unless the carbon emissions are either:
- Prevented from escaping to the atmosphere, through carbon capture - carbon capture and storage or carbon capture and utilisation; or
- Offset by capture through another means, such as soil carbon. However, such offsets are difficult to measure, and are not yet known to be effective and economic enough as offsets.
Thus the only feasible future for coal in an energy transition economy is through some form of carbon capture. Carbon capture is not economical at the initial prices for carbon in Australia of $23 per tonne.