Extract from an article by Dr Cassandra Goldie
The transition to a clean, affordable and equitable supply of energy is finely on the agenda in Australia, compounded by soaring electricity prices and the mostly favourable response to the Finkel review.
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), a peak body aimed at reducing poverty and inequality in Australia, has long highlighted the importance of tackling climate change, as we know that the impacts of inaction hit people on low incomes and people who are vulnerable first and worst.
ACOSS is also alarmed by escalating energy prices for people on the lowest incomes who cannot cope. Lack of action to address this intense financial stress is inexcusable with energy being an essential service.
Our joint consultative report with the Brotherhood of St Laurence and The Climate Institute released earlier this week reviews disadvantaged household’s access to affordable clean energy and the impact of the transition to clean energy on low income earners.
The report highlights evidence that people on low incomes are the first affected in an energy crisis such as is currently occurring with increasing electricity prices.
A recent RenewEconomy article criticised one aspect of the report suggesting it was attacking solar and solar owners. Rather our report raised concerns with poor policy designs and the consequences for low-income and disadvantage households.
Based on months of consultation with over 120 community, environment and consumer energy experts, the report highlights the urgency of decarbonising our economy, including our electricity sector, in line with the Paris Agreement. Renewable energy, both small and large scale, will be essential in this transition.
Significantly, the report emphasises the transition needs to be affordable, equitable and inclusive. This is critical if we want a smooth, fair and expeditious transition to a modern clean energy system.
As RenewEconomy readers know too well Australia’s energy system is in disarray, emissions are rising, reliability is at risk and electricity prices are skyrocketing. Low-income and disadvantaged households are bearing the brunt.
Those with the least suffer the most from unnecessary rises in energy costs. Some families are forced to go without basic needs like heating, cooling and food, or don’t send their kids on school excursions, just to pay the bills.
The report notes that big drivers of high energy prices are increases in wholesale, retail and network costs, with reforms needed in all three areas…(continues)
SOURCE: Cassandra Goldie, “Making the energy transition more equitable and inclusive”, Renew Economy, 07 August 2017
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia