As our foreign affairs and trade ministers front up to the Lima climate change talks with a message that Australia is on track with its climate commitments, it pays to consider what our major trading partner is up to.
China has committed to installing the equivalent of the entire US grid worth of zero-emissions energy by 2030.
China also boasts seven emissions trading schemes in regions with a population of 250 million people - or 10 times the population of Australia. And it already has the largest installed renewables capacity and investment in the world, according to the Climate Council. This 1 million megawatt investment in wind, solar and hydro is significant, and continues China's drive to reduce emissions and have 20 per cent of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources within 15 years.
Australia has a significant stake in this, because 13 per cent of our total exports are in thermal coal. China is a major importer of Aussie coal. Isn't it a good idea for us to prepare for a future where there are less coal exports?
Meanwhile, the Federal government wants to cut its aspirations for renewable rollouts to 2020 by 60 per cent after a longstanding bipartisan commitment to see renewables grow.
Australia's lack of an equivalent commitment to a strong Renewable Energy Target (RET) also causes us international embarrassment. The Federal Government has been stalling on its commitment to the RET for one year, causing jobs to disappear from communities like Portland, which built wind towers.
Investors are also beginning to walk away because they can’t see a future in renewables here. The endless reviews are nearly as bad as axing the RET altogether. And the ninth review was quietly passed through the Senate on November 24.
We can make up the ground we have lost in 2014 by returning to the bipartisan support we used to have for a 41,000 GwH Renewable Energy Target. But it needs to happen decisively, and it needs to happen soon.
For more information about renewables, to talk to other renewables supporters and to see what you can do to help get renewables growth back on track explore www.windalliance.org.au, find the Australian Wind Alliance on Facebook, or better still, become a member for as little as $20 a year.