RENEWABLES AUSTRALIA

Climate change is rapidly impacting the people, animals and places we love – and the impacts are not equal for some. Australia needs to rapidly shift towards a more renewable future that protects people and the planet.  

Activities like burning fossil fuels are polluting our atmosphere and warming our planet, increasing extreme weather events, rising sea levels and the warming and acidification of our oceans. Our wildlife and ecosystems are struggling to adapt fast enough. The Indigenous peoples of the Pacific, including the First Peoples of Australia and Torres Strait, contribute the least to human-induced climate change but bear the worst of the impacts.

Australia needs to rapidly shift away from fossil fuels to a renewable future that works for people and the planet. 

Although the world is increasingly doing more to transition to renewables and decarbonise emissions-intensive industries to combat climate change, it is critical to influence how this transition occurs for meaningful impact. 

We need a fast, best, and just transition to renewable energy, products and systems that protect and restore nature and benefit people and communities. 

It is now time to build fast to keep 1.5°C warming in reach, best to reverse the trend of biodiversity loss, and just to achieve an inclusive, just and resilient transition for local communities, in particular First Nations communities.

Decarbonisation explained

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Facts about renewable energy in Australia

A man walking through wheat field with wind turbines and sun.
© Pond5 / CleverArts / WWF

Renewables and nature

Any power generation, even using renewables, disrupts the natural environment on which we all depend. While a rapid shift to renewable energy is crucial to decarbonising our activities and preventing the worst impacts of climate change, the impact of this energy production on people and the planet must also be considered.

WWF is facilitating the Coalition Linking Energy And Nature for Action (CLEANAction) and working globally to connect nature and climate crises. It aims to highlight the need for careful assessment of new renewable energy projects and their impact on biodiversity, providing options for decision-makers to prioritise options that are least damaging to nature.

In its first major report, CLEANaction confirms that even when the full range of environmental impacts - from sourcing raw materials to final operation - is considered, generating and storing energy from renewables is far less environmentally damaging than fossil fuels.

To achieve a clean energy future that takes complete account of the impact on nature, CLEANAction is urging governments to: 

  • Undertake strategic-level energy planning at national or regional scales to identify potential energy savings, suitable renewable energy sources, and sites for energy expansion in areas of low biodiversity sensitivity. 
  • Consider the impact on nature at the earliest stage of integrated clean energy planning, taking account of the entire value chain - from sourcing material to disposal. 
  • Develop national regulatory schemes that require energy developers to contribute to national conservation targets. 
  • Invest in timely nature-sensitivity mapping to help direct technology sifting through proper data and require industry to avoid protected areas, key biodiversity areas, and other areas of particular cultural sensitivity and value. 
  • Apply stringent environmental impact assessment processes and require standards for all new developments according to best practices. 
  • Adopt a circular economy approach with optimised energy efficiency to maximise the reuse of energy materials and minimise the demand for natural resources. 

WWF-Australia's vision

WWF-Australia is calling on our leaders to rapidly phase out fossil fuel exports and secure Australia's position as a Renewable Exports Superpower by ensuring a fast, best, and just transition to 700% renewable energy production by 2050. Australia is the third largest exporter of fossil fuels, and we need to act quickly to realise the economic, social and environmental benefits of a renewable future.
Infographic explaining how Australia can achieve 700% renewables.
© WWF-Australia

How can you have 700% renewables?

700% renewable energy means that Australia has the potential to not only meet its own needs with 100% renewable energy but also export 600% of that value to the world, cementing Australia as a Renewable Energy Export Superpower. 

We can calculate it as follows:   

  • 100% is what we’ll have when all Australian electricity is from renewable sources. 
  • We get to 200% when we convert our transport, industry and buildings to renewable electricity. Think of electric trucks and houses heated by solar instead of gas. 
  • We get the last 200-700% by doing new things like making clean, renewable hydrogen - a fuel we can sell to the world. 

How we’ll achieve our vision

Aerial view of wind farm in rural area on bright sunny day in Australia
© Greg Brave - stock.adobe.com

Working towards a Nature-Positive Energy transition that works for people and the planet by:

  • Ensuring that the transition minimises impacts on nature. 
  • Facilitating best practices to realise opportunities for nature-positive outcomes from the transition. 
  • Communicating the benefits of the energy transition to build broad support. 
  • Advocating for strong ambition and targets that reflect relevant climate science. 
Solar installation
Solar installation © Anatoliy_gleb / WWF-Australia © Anatoliy_gleb / WWF-Australia

Building unstoppable momentum to reduce embodied carbon in buildings and the construction industry through:

  • Demonstrating consistent demand for lower and zero-carbon materials ; 
  • Best practice measurement of embodied carbon;  
  • Knowledge sharing & skills development;  
  • Developing common language for procurement guidelines; 
  • Managing transition risks & risk sharing in the use of innovative materials and  
  • Supporting the reduction of embodied carbon in construction materials like steel, concrete, aluminium, engineered timber, and others. 
MECLA
Hydrogen factory concept. Hydrogen production from renewable energy sources
© scharfsinn86 / Adobe Stock

Supporting Australia’s transition towards decarbonised steel production as a major global coal, gas and iron ore exporter by:

  • Encouraging investment in Australia’s renewable energy resources and green hydrogen infrastructure. 
  • Ensuring a commitment to a greener iron trading identity. 
  • Promoting discussion and cooperation with key trading partners like Japan, Korea and China to better support the transition to decarbonised steel. 

Regenerative Sky

WWF-Australia is not only dedicated to making Australia a Renewable Energy Export Superpower, but our vision is to support Australia in becoming a global leader in securing a healthy climate powered by communities, nature and renewable energy.

Our Reports

WWF has been developing concrete policy proposals to accelerate Australia to become a renewable superpower. Read our reports: