OPINION | Conservative leadership is climate leadership

Conservatives are taking the climate lead

An ambitious renewable energy announcement from the NSW government this week has put Australia in a position that might take the casual observer by surprise.

With plans to provide policy and financial support to add 12 Gigawatts of renewables to the NSW grid in a decade, the NSW government has joined its Liberal counterparts in Tasmania and South Australia in having some of the strongest support for renewables in the country.

Based on the rhetoric from some in the Coalition challenging the need for climate action, one might not expect to see Conservative governments at the forefront of renewable energy ambition in Australia.

But this shouldn't be surprising.

The reality is, the growing shift among Liberal governments in Australia towards zero emissions energy from the wind and the sun is just common sense.

Just look at the NSW announcement, which expects to attract $32 billion in private investment and create thousands of jobs.

There is a growing recognition within conservative ranks that when it comes to the economics of energy, there's a clear winner, and it's renewables.

If the Government is considering ways to add new capacity to our energy mix, wind and solar are far and away the cheapest solution.

This means cheaper electricity for businesses and industry, freeing up resources to invest in innovation, growth and job creation.

Everyday Australians also benefit from lower energy bills, and from an environment where bushfires, droughts and other extreme weather, which have cost us billions of dollars to cope with, aren't supercharged by climate change.

Turning to the international economic opportunity, fortune still favours renewables.

In the last few months alone, our major trading partners like China, Japan, South Korea and the UK have committed to net zero emissions in the next few decades.

With the election of Joe Biden as the next American president, there's more climate action on the way.

This will inevitably shrink demand for coal and gas from our major export markets.

By backing renewables and committing to net zero targets at the state level, Liberal governments have done exactly what the economy, the climate and Australians need.

The NSW Government has refused to allow fact-free ideology or partisan politics to obstruct their renewables ambition, and in doing so, have demonstrated the good economic management and pro-business values that are at the heart of the Conservative cause.

An inevitable wave of climate action is brewing around the world.

It is powered by science and cold, hard economics, and made up of foreign nations, financial and corporate giants, Australian states, territories, and local governments and the 80% of Australians who are concerned about climate change.

This wave is fast approaching Australian shores and smart Australian political leaders can ride it to success.

Cristina Talacko is the Chairperson of the Coalition for Conservation Inc.