SOME OF THE KEY LEADERSHIP LESSONS HAVE BEEN TO MOVE EARLY AND TO WORK IN PARTNERSHIP WITH INDUSTRY AND THE COMMUNITY.
–Tim O’Loughlin, Commissioner for Renewable Energy, South Australia
South Australia has led Australian climate and energy efforts for nearly a decade. Driven by strong political leadership, the need to develop new sources of economic growth, and concerns about climate impacts, South Australia has established itself as a leader in clean energy deployment and investment. The development of various state-level initiatives in an often regressive national policy environment makes South Australia’s achievements particularly noteworthy.
Progressive climate and energy leadership is more than simply setting targets and achieving them. Context matters too. This is what makes South Australia a leader in the Clean Revolution.
For the past decade, this small sub-national state (population 1.65 million) has been a pioneer of climate change and renewable energy policies in Australia. From a massive expansion in wind power, to the passing of the southern hemisphere’s first climate legislation with emission reduction targets, South Australia has led the way Down Under. Were it a nation, South Australia would have the second highest level of wind energy penetration in the world after Denmark, and it has achieved higher per capita wind generation than any major country.
On their own, these and other achievements would be impressive in their own right. But South Australia’s actions are even more remarkable in the context of a country with one of the world’s highest per capita emission levels, a nationally divisive climate debate and an economy that has prospered on the back of coal, gas and energy intensive mining industries. In 2009, the state’s emissions were 8.6% below 1990 levels – a figure comparable to many leading European countries. By contrast, Australia’s emissions as a whole grew by 2.7% from 1990 to 2009 and are currently projected to increase by 6% on 1990 levels by the end of the first Kyoto commitment period (2008-2012).