Australian Renewable Energy Roll – Out

As you may or may not know, at the Federal election in Australia the Greens Party won the balance of power in the new Senate and they solar panels imagewon a lower House seat too that parlayed them into negotiations about who the next Federal Government would be.  With that in mind you might be interested in the views of Paul Stewart about the prospects for renewable energy roll out over the next couple of years.  See the article below.  Paul works for the Solar Tech team that publish news on renewable energy initiatives, particularly solar power in Brisbane. He also works Paul Burke who works with  the Greens (he’s a staffer for Christine Milne, the national Deputy Parliamentary leader.)

Guest post from Paul Stewart  :

I’m not an expert, or a leader, or a psychologist, but observation of my own responses suggests the following thoughts.

We all know that just one household installing solar panels or rainwater tanks or taking other sustainability measures is a mere drop in the ocean, and is not going to make any difference to climate change unless lots and lots of people do the same. Some of us go ahead and do so anyway – change has to start somewhere – but I suspect people who are borderline climate change skeptics or those finding it difficult to make such changes (short of money, short of time, or just not sure how to proceed) would use that rationale to justify doing nothing.

Perhaps more importantly, people who are doing nothing to minimize climate change (for whatever reason), despite exposure to the scientific warnings, will I think find it psychologically more comfortable to take the climate change denial position, or at least simpy forget about climate change. Thinking that the survival of humanity is at stake unless we all make far-reaching lifestyle changes, and at the same time seeing very little change taking place around us, is a VERY stressful thing to keep in the forefront of our minds. The only way to reduce that stress (and save our sanity) is to change one side of the equation, or simply forget about the equation. Is it easier to believe that therewill be rapid and sufficient changes in everyone’s lifestyle, or is it easier to believe that climate change is not a problem after all?

I wonder, though, are more people than we think already quietly installing solar panels and tanks, growing their own food, and changing their car use patterns without their neighbours and associates being aware of this? I’m starting to think that might be the case. If we all knew“everyone else is doing it”, there would seem to be a lot more point in “sacrificing” that holiday or new car and instead spending the money on panels or tanks or making a vege garden. (Vege gardens are a great way to start because they can be as small or large as the person can manage, and need not take a lot of money…yet they potentially make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint.)

Of course, at this stage, not everyone is changing their priorities in this way, but I’m thinking we need a way of making visible (and celebrating) the number of people who are already “doing something” to help minimize climate change. We could then feel more optimistic about humanity’s chances of success, be less likely to deny or forget that we have a problem, and less inclined to think that ones own actions (the actions of just one person) are futile.

I’ve been trying to think up some sort of mechanism for making everyone’s beneficial actions highly visible: A national “greenest street” competition? A survey sent to all households to take a “census” of what people are currently doing (with the results to be published widely)? There could be boxes to tick in response to questions like: do you grow some/most of your own fruit and veg, do you have a rainwater tank, do you use rainwater for all household uses, do you have solar panels, do you buy green energy, do you reuse your used washing machine/shower water, do you car pool/use public transport, etc. But who would finance such a costly process?

None of the above options go far enough, but I can’t think what would. Any ideas?

Paul Stewart - pstewart@solartotal.com.au