Crisis is the chasm between danger and opportunity. It is worth reminding ourselves of this truism as markets, parties, and governments look to set out their “Covid-19 Recovery Plans”, for there is naught to recover from a crisis but the courage to grasp the opportunity. The crisis in which we find ourselves, the Covid-19 pandemic, presents us with a great opportunity, an opportunity to actively choose the fuel of our future.
Not to prune, but to grow
The Greens may be the bronze medallists of Australian politics but they’re certainly ahead in some areas. In the Greens’ economic recovery plan, “Invest to Recover,” released this week, the party emboldens itself in the knowledge that: “We can’t cut our way out of this crisis: we have to invest for the future.”
The Greens believe we don’t need to return to normal, “we can build a better normal.” If “we” means the Greens themselves is another question entirely, but what is undeniable is that a “better normal” is a greener normal. And that is why investment in renewable infrastructure is key.
“Right now, we have a chance to map our way out of the jobs and economic crisis and into a fairer, more sustainable future,” said Adam Bandt MP. “Change is not only possible, it’s essential.”
Green Infrastructure Initiatives
The Greens want to invest $12 billion in the establishment of the Manufacturing Australia fund, just part of a $60 billion plan clean and revive Australian manufacturing. On top of that the Greens also seek to re-establish the $200 million Clean Technology Innovation Program scrapped by Tony Abbott.
As the Morrison Government looks to the instant gratification of LNG, Australia will no doubt quickly learn what every smoker knows – instant gratification is instantly ungratifying. The Greens are instead proposing large scale investment in renewables to not only take us to a recovered economy, but a zero carbon economy that renews itself.
“To emerge from this crisis with a better society,” says the Greens, “we need green investment, not blue cuts.” To begin with, the Greens want a $6 billion Grid Transformation Fund, a fund to pave the pathway for investment in renewables like solar, wind, hydrogen, batteries, and pumped hydro storage.
Throw in $150 million on the construction of a national electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging network, and $25 billion on a national public transport infrastructure fund, and the level of investment in renewable infrastructure is starting to add up to something writing home about. Hence this article.
Like walking against a travelator, it has taken enormous effort for the renewable energy industry to build momentum in the energy transition. However, many of us are still wondering if acceleration is simply too slow. Today, due to the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis, the travelator is standing still, and we have the opportunity to spring off the mark and accelerate unhindered in the right direction. Indeed, the crisis gives new meaning to these words of Tolkien: “Every spring there is a different green.”
After the Global Financial Crisis over a decade ago, we were forced to confront our collective irresponsibility, but we did not recover the collective courage to grasp the opportunity. We cannot make the same mistake in the face of our current crises (and they are plural). Today, we are faced with an opportunity too bountiful to pass up, not only our future energy security but the security of a future at all.
Australia’s last recession was in 1990, a recession that then Treasurer Paul Keating called “the recession we simply had to have.” If we can find the collective courage to grasp this opportunity, we will be able to look back on 2020 as the crisis we simply had to have.