It is a strange, interstitial time. We’re somewhere between the initial shock of change brought on by the pandemic (which is wearing off as segments of society slowly reactivate) and the new nervousness of whether our slow climb up out of the trough will trigger a second wave.
While we were feeling panic and anxiety during those early days back in late February and early March, fossil fuel advocates have been calmly and openly forming a plan to capture the process of economic recovery.
They have had a head start in shifting the agenda towards their interests. They are embedded so deep in Australia’s political and business environments that efforts to economically recover from the impacts of coronavirus have already taken a dark brown tinge.
Australia’s Covid-19 Commission is headed by Nev Power – a former mining executive who has been decidedly unsubtle about the direction he plans to take the recovery process. When asked specifically about climate change and renewable energy on ABC’s The Business, Power avoided any clear answer, reiterating concerns about “reliability” and low-cost energy. When asked what the lowest cost energy was, Power talked about gas.
It is already playing out in policy. 350 Australia has detailed a long list of fossil fuel and environmentally-damaging demands, also covered in RenewEconomy here. And as covered here, Power sits at the centre of a broad web of interests working very hard to make Australia’s recovery brown, and the drumbeat of demands has been getting louder and faster.
On a global scale, a new report released by Vivid Economics shows that this problem is truly a global one. Australia is not the worst, but it is pretty bad, and the country is “yet to take measure that ensure stimulus will not undermine the sustainability and resilience of [its economy]”.
The opportunity for Australia to become a global leader in green recovery is ripe – there’s plenty of empty space on the ‘green’ side of that chart. But what does leadership look like? And who’s leading the charge to make it happen?