Opinion | The time for change of climate is now, not later

HERE COMES THE SUN: Supporters of renewable energy gathered at Rahamim for the Bathurst Community Climate Action Network annual general meeting and Rahamim’s Green Drinks last Friday. Photo: STEVE WOODHALL
HERE COMES THE SUN: Supporters of renewable energy gathered at Rahamim for the Bathurst Community Climate Action Network annual general meeting and Rahamim’s Green Drinks last Friday. Photo: STEVE WOODHALL

AS a child I always admired the forthright sign on the freeway that said WRONG WAY GO BACK.

There was no mincing words. If the nose of your car was pointing in that direction, you were definitely in trouble.

In terms of climate change, we’re in deep trouble. The fact that the political leaders of the world keep getting together to talk about it attests to that.

Sadly, on the ground in Australia, this problem keeps being converted into a non-problem or at least a problem to be dealt with by some other people, somewhere else, at some other time.

This week we’ve had our local state member come out against the proposed Brewongle solar farm; the Moolarben coal mine near Mudgee is seeking further expansion; and the state Nationals are reported to be pushing for a new coal mine in the Hunter using money from the sale of the Land and Property Information office.

This inability to decisively let go of coal – to commit to phasing it out as quickly as possible – is just prolonging the agony of our transition to a low carbon future.

Despite the unhelpful regulatory framework, investors are starting to get behind renewables. They can see that once the dust settles, this is the way of the future. But as this unfolds, we’re likely to see more local opposition, as we had with the first wave of windf arms in recent years.

The main argument by those opposing the solar farm at Brewongle is that it will destroy viable agricultural land. We in BCCAN have looked into this.

Unlike coal mining, a solar farm does not remove ground cover or topsoil. Unlike open cut coal mining, the land can be shared with grazing sheep.

In other parts of the world, solar farms are combined with crops able to be grown in partial shade. There are even studies showing soils improving on land used by solar farms. So we remain unconvinced by this argument.

Studies showing soils improving on land used by solar farms.

Grazing v solar

In terms of visual impact, a renewable future is inevitably going to look different. Increasingly we will be living among our energy “factories” – rooftop solar, windf arms, solar farms.

As they appear before us, these energy generators are symbols of hope: that humanity might change course before it is too late.

Tracy Sorensen is president of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network. Visit www.bccan.org.au