Clean energy drive must focus on disadvantaged communities

ACOSS is urging the federal government to ensure that people on low incomes and disadvantaged communities are at the front and centre of Australia’s response to the US Inflation Reduction Act designed to turbocharge clean energy access.

The peak body is part of the Australian Renewables Industry Summit in Canberra on Monday looking at how the federal government can respond to the US climate investment that is distributing billions of dollars to US industries, energy, agriculture while helping low-income communities access clean energy.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said:

“Australia will need to invest heavily in all areas of the economy including large-scale energy, distributed energy, transport, clean industry and agriculture to tackle the climate crisis. But those with the least should be prioritised.

“With the ongoing cost of living crisis, persistent high energy prices, and energy reliability issues, the federal government should be prioritising investment now to help people and communities – especially those experiencing poverty and inequality – access the benefits of clean energy.

“Investment in distributed clean energy – rooftop solar, electric hot water, electric heating and cooling, insulation, batteries and electric vehicles – would build industries of the future, create thousands of jobs in manufacturing and installation, provide cost of living relief, improve energy reliability, and cut poverty and inequality.

“We have to cut carbon pollution this decade to avoid catastrophic climate change. People and communities will only get behind a faster transition if they are at the centre of the transition.

“We can’t keep putting profitable big industries ahead of people who are doing it tough, and struggling to afford housing, energy, transport, medicine and put food on the table.

“If the US can make access to clean energy for people and communities on low incomes a key pillar of its billion-dollar energy package, so can Australia.”

In the 2023 federal budget, the government allocated $5.6 million to look at clean energy investment opportunities and investigate Australia’s response to the US Inflation Reduction Act. The federal government has requested a detailed analysis from Dr Alan Finkel on the implications of the Act.