The state government of Victoria has made its own plans, including $ 1.6 billion in renewable energy investments to help launch a major private investment program that now accounts for 30% of jobs in Australia’s sector. renewable energies. It’s the largest share among states, according to Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio. Victoria also announced a Hydrogen Technology Research Center for Swinburne University of Technology.

But ambitious climate change and renewable energy policies are politically straightforward for Labor states. The strength of the NSW case is that it shows that a coalition government can do it too.

New South Wales Energy Minister Matt Kean.Credit:Dominique lorrimer

What exactly is green hydrogen? “To do this, all you have to do is run electricity through the water,” using an electrolyzer, explains Forrest. “When that electricity comes from 100% renewable electricity, the result is green hydrogen. There are no carbon emissions.

Forrest predicts that the green hydrogen industry will generate around $ 12 trillion in revenue globally by 2050, making it bigger than any existing industry. For scale, it would be the same size as the combined annual national economic output of Japan, Germany and Britain today.

It invests not only in facilities to generate renewable energy, but also in the equipment that the facilities will need. Starting with his announcement this week of a billion dollar plant in the town of Gladstone, Queensland, to make the electrolyzers you need to make green hydrogen. This will double the global electrolyser manufacturing capacity, he said. “Not in India, not in China, not in Europe – but in Gladstone, Queensland, Australia. The starter pistol was fired in an attempt to bring home manufacturing, particularly to the Australian region. “

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Kean expects the green hydrogen industry in NSW to eclipse the coal sector by 2050: “It’s about making coal-prone areas sustainable; hydrogen will thrive in the Hunter and Illawarra, ”so new renewable energy industries are replacing and eventually overtaking the fossil fuel sector.

“No politician can look the workers in the fossil fuel industry in the eye and say that they will be able to prevent change from happening internationally,” Kean said. “Doing nothing is the worst possible outcome for everyone. “

The other states are moving in the same direction as New South Wales. Every state and territory government has pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. But in the case of NSW, it is striking that a Liberal government has achieved this goal by working in coalition with nationals. Without any public reduction. In a state very rich in charcoal.

And that created a political advantage as a result. “The contrast with the federal government couldn’t be more stark,” said Kean, who took over as treasurer for New South Wales when Perrottet became prime minister two weeks ago.

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“You have a Liberal minister in a coalition government that embraces the future,” Kean tells me. “In New South Wales, the Coalition owns the climate and energy agenda – it’s not the Labor or the Greens who are racing. “

This allowed the state’s coalition government to exorcise Tony Abbott’s ghost, Kean says. “There will be small Liberal voters who could not vote for Tony Abbott and who will enthusiastically support this government for its environmental and economically sound agenda.

To be fair to Morrison, he approached energy policy with the caution of a demining technician, as it contributed to the demise of his five predecessors. He took over a traumatized federal coalition. And his deputy is Australian-born climate denier Barnaby Joyce. This has turned out to be one of the trickiest policy areas for an Australian Prime Minister.

So does Kean have any advice for Morrison as he embarks on his latest push to produce a new national policy? The PM scorned his advice a few years ago, but now that NSW has achieved what it hasn’t, it may be worth asking.

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“We did everything for the economy,” Kean explains. “How to create jobs, stimulate investment, raise living standards and improve the prosperity of every person in our state, whether they are in the cities or in the bush.”

But Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, also minister for various things including regionalization in the Morrison government, said this week the promise of jobs in the renewable energy industry was just a “mirage.” She even cited the example of a solar farm that employs only five people, most of whom just cut the grass under the solar panels.

“Bridget McKenzie should stop being so dishonest with Australians,” Kean said. “His strategy of doing nothing will bring down entire industries and communities.

“We need to focus on building the new economy. To build a modern electricity grid, tens of thousands of skilled workers will be employed in New South Wales, and once built there will be permanent jobs to manage and maintain it – not to mention any industries that will have lower electricity prices for their operations. . “Its green hydrogen policy has an element of skills and retraining to help create the necessary workforce.

Kean didn’t decide to go it alone. He tried to work with the Morrison government but got fed up with delays and apologies and lost patience. “We are always ready to work with the Commonwealth but our priorities are not aligned,” he tells me. Less diplomatically, he told his colleagues that he was fed up with being lectured by his federal counterpart, Angus Taylor.

In fact, Kean says NSW has gone so far ahead of the federal government that it doesn’t matter what Morrison does now. When asked if national policy is relevant to NSW’s plans if Morrison doesn’t make any changes, Kean pauses to think for a moment and responds, “Probably not. They are there to negotiate international agreements and treaties, so it would be great if they are aligned, ”but NSW could bypass Canberra if necessary.

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“We would continue and protect our economy and continue to work with other states, territories and governments around the world who are committed to protecting the planet and creating enormous economic opportunity.”

Is it realistic? For example, what if Morrison’s emissions targets remain unacceptably low for the European Union and it follows through on its proposal to impose a carbon tariff on Australian exports so that they do not? Not “profit” from Europe’s decarbonization efforts?

The Managing Director of the Carbon Market Institute, John Connor, said: “A lot of this will come down to the individual company level because you are not exporting as a government but as a company.” And while federal good faith certification of an exporter is expected, “states can even provide theirs.” It is therefore not insurmountable.

And Kean points out that the major sectors emitting electricity, transport and heavy industry “are all in the domain of states.” It is not for spinning.

He has other advice – sharp advice – for the Prime Minister. On politics: “We haven’t just lobbied – it’s not all slogans and politics. We have really worked on policy development. It’s not just the style, it’s the substance.

Finally, on leadership: “The job of leaders is to manage risk and diversify economies to ensure they are protected in the face of huge global change. Other than that, I am sure he wishes the Prime Minister a pleasant trip to Glasgow.

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