Remember when I got excited that New Zealand was going coal-free, and 90 percent renewable by 2025? At the time, many commenters suggested that Australia could learn a thing or two from its neighbor.
Well, it seems that many parts of Australia are intent on holding their own—at least on the regional level. In fact, as Cleantechnica reports, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government has just unveiled a plan to achieve 100 percent renewable energy as early as 2025. (ACT is a territory in the south east of Australia, enclaved within New South Wales.) That's a huge deal, especially when you also consider that South Australia has a plan for 50 percent renewables, as does Queensland, and Tasmania is at 100 percent already.
It kind of begs the question: At what point do central government targets become obsolete? In other words, as regions, cities and individual entities like large corporations go it alone in the inevitable transition to a 100 percent post-carbon economy—will other regions and/or central governments still in the grip of pro-fossil fuels laggards be forced to play catch up as the new paradigm emerges?
In some ways, that's what President Obama's recently unveiled Clean Power Plan is all about. Many states will have no problem complying—and some will probably exceed their goals—but by mandating that the other states need to get started, it helps ensure that everyone is moving forward at some pace or other. Given that the energy transition is already adding a net growth in jobs, but those jobs are going to pro-renewables regions even as pro-coal regions suffer losses, I suspect there will be a time when the slow movers will simply face too much pressure to get with the program and enter the 21st Century.
Australian coal miners are already supporting renewables targets (in exchange for significant support in transitioning their jobs). And Kentucky coal mining communities want conservatives to stop blocking aid from Obama that's intended to help them move on.