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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 May 2018) . . Page.. 1713 ..

Negative health is one of the worst impacts of extreme heat, but its impact filters through into the local community in many ways. Increasingly we are seeing sporting events cancelled or postponed due to heat and bushfire risk. Public infrastructure is damaged by heat. For example, road surfaces are damaged, buses are more likely to break down and trees are more likely to die. Energy infrastructure is under pressure from the increased energy use in heatwaves, primarily from people turning on their air conditioners on these extremely hot days.

And of course climate change is costly—costly to governments and costly to households and individuals. One thing that is very clear is that, even though it costs money to mitigate climate change and to adapt to climate change, it is cheaper to do that than not address climate change at all. This has been well established in many economic reports. I think Professor Nicholas Stern was the first to distil this in the 1990s. It has continued to be well understood by people who study these things. Rampant climate change will cost governments and individuals billions of dollars and it is a recipe for economic as well as environmental disaster.

This is one of the terrible ironies in the approach of our federal coalition government, which claims to care about the cost of living and about struggling families. But the federal government is simply letting those families down. By failing to address climate change, by continuing to pursue highly polluting fossil fuels projects, by failing to acknowledge the importance of transitioning to renewables and a zero carbon future, and by implementing policies that will actually delay or stymie the transition, such as the national energy guarantee, the federal coalition is condemning this country to a future of economic stress and higher costs. The people who are already struggling the most and are already the most vulnerable will be hit the hardest under these scenarios.

The federal government’s approach to energy, climate change and cost of living is full of ironies. It would be funny if it were not so tragic. The grid instability and blackouts that have occurred in recent years have largely been caused by failing coal plants. Coal-fired electricity generators have a tendency to fail when the weather becomes too hot. The irony is that the weather is getting hotter and hotter, largely due to the emissions spewed out of coal plants. The plants are now failing in these heatwaves, putting extended pressure on the electricity grid, helping to spike the wholesale costs of electricity. Then, of course, all of these costs are passed through to consumers.

Members may recall we spoke recently about the national energy guarantee in the Assembly. I outlined the significant detrimental cost impact it could have on ACT residents. As I said at the time, these are issues I am taking up at the national level with my energy minister counterparts. I hope we can reach a situation where these serious concerns are resolved.

Currently in the ACT we are on our way to 100 per cent renewable electricity, as has been touched on in the discussion already today. This has been achieved through our large-scale feed-in tariff scheme resulting in the construction of various new renewable energy projects in the ACT and around the country.

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