We all need to get real about the true cost of our electricity bills.
It's no longer just about that price at the bottom of our electricity bills that we pay to our energy retailers, without giving much thought to what we're really paying for.
How do we begin to reconcile what we pay to energy providers, with the bigger price we are paying as a result of climate change caused by human-induced carbon emissions? What are we really paying for? What impact does our choice in energy provider really have?
A dire warning issued on day of catastrophic flood disaster
On the same day that the worst flood disaster Australia has ever recorded hit towns and cities along Australia's east coast - from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland down to the South Coast of New South Wales - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report. It's called Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.
The report states that human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and is affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks.
This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet"
- Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.
The destruction wreaked by the flood disaster on the same day this IPCC report was released, is hard to comprehend. And it brought the realities of climate change right into thousands of homes and countless communities.
Thousands of homes and businesses are now lost, livelihoods destroyed and more tragically, lives were lost. The amount of rain that fell over the days of the disaster was unprecedented.
Mullumbimby’s CBD under water Monday, 28 February 2022. Photo: Simon Haslam
"Climate change is intensifying extreme rainfall and how the frequency of these events is likely to almost double with each degree of further global warming.
The intense rainfall and floods devastating communities in Queensland and New South Wales is taking place in an atmosphere made warmer and wetter by climate change, which is driven by the burning of coal, oil, and gas."
- A Supercharged Climate: Rain Bombs, Flash Flooding and Destruction, Climate Council, March 2022.
To put the disaster into perspective:
- A “rain bomb” hit Brisbane and south east Queensland with around 60 percent of the region’s average annual rainfall occurring within three days. Brisbane received almost the same amount of rain in three days than London in the UK typically does over an entire year.
- The Wilsons River in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales peaked at 14.37 metres in Lismore, breaking the previous flood level record by more than 2 metres.
- On 3 March in Sydney, a total of half a million people were under evacuation orders or evacuation warnings, and more than 250 schools were closed.
- The estimated cost of insurance claims related to the Feb/March 2022 Queensland and New South Wales flooding disaster is $1.45 billion (as of 8 March 2022) (Insurance Council of Australia 2022).
- Government figures indicate that, of the 9,200 homes assessed so far in the Northern Rivers, 5,500 are damaged and 2,834 are uninhabitable.
Australia's La Nina event of 2021-22. Source: A Supercharged Climate: Rain Bombs, Flash Flooding and Destruction, Climate Council, March 2022.
Is this the new normal?
We can no longer afford to think that these events are not part of a new normal. We do so at our own peril.
Just five years ago in 2017 severe flooding (that was called a one-in-one-hundred year event) impacted the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. Only two years ago the Black Summer bushfire crisis raged throughout the country during the summer of 2019-2020. And now at the time of writing our Eastern seaboard cities, towns and communities are in the beginnings of what will be a long-haul toward recovery from the worst recorded flood disaster in Australia's history.
Bush fires, cyclones, flooding, droughts, heatwaves. We are experiencing more extreme and altered weather patterns. Some areas in southeast Queensland and the north coast of NSW received more than 1,000mm of rain in the lead up to 3 March 2022. Whilst the floods were occurring, Tasmania experienced its driest summer in 40 years and Perth recorded more days above 40 degrees Celsius than ever before.
These 'unprecedented' events are now occurring so frequently that we can only assume a new precedent has been set. Is this the new normal that we want to live in?
“Climate change is playing out in real time here in Australia. We are dealing with a climate system on steroids. For many communities dealing with flood emergencies, this is the latest in a long line of climate-fuelled extreme weather events they have faced recently. Unless we act now and join the rest of the world to reduce emissions this decade, such disasters will only get worse.”
- Professor Will Stephen, Climate Councillor, climate change expert and ANU Emeritus Professor.
Carbon emissions continue to build up in our atmosphere and energy production plays a huge part
Energy production is Australia's largest contributor to carbon emissions. According to the CSIRO, 33.6% of Australia's emissions come from burning fossil fuels to produce electricity and another 20.4% is from stationary energy (including manufacturing, mining, residential and commercial fuel use).
On top of this, Australia is one of the world's dirtiest fossil fuel polluters. A colossal 76% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels. This is the dirtiest and most destructive way to generate electricity and it fuels the devastating climate disasters that we are seeing today.
We admit, the challenge to eliminate fossil fuels from our lives is immense. And at the same time, tackling the challenges posed by climate change involves everyone.
“Our assessment clearly shows that tackling all these different challenges involves everyone –
governments, the private sector, civil society – working together to prioritise risk reduction, as well as equity and justice, in decision-making and investment.”
- IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts.
With global temperatures already at 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the science agrees we must work together to prevent the global temperature rising to 1.5 degrees and adapt to the climate change impacts that are already locked in.
What will you do?
A clear, immediate and simple choice all households and businesses can take today, is to choose an energy provider that is focused on renewable energy, where the energy purchased by the retailer is driving growth in renewables rather than simply offsetting emissions.
These kinds of choices and conversations about them, with people who want to take climate action, accelerate the transition to a low carbon energy future. You, your family and your friends have the power to reduce the true cost of (and the carbon emissions associated with) your energy bills.
Collectively that's meaningful action with immediate impact.
To accelerate the growth of renewable energy in the Australian energy market, without relying offsets, is a feat. It's a committed strategic decision by companies to focus on increasing renewables despite the challenges it involves.
And here we come back to that question of the true cost of your power bill.
- Is your energy bill contributing to carbon emissions or is it boosting renewables?
- Does your energy bill help to fund and prolong fossil fuel projects?
- Is your energy bill money circulating in local communities; or, is it boosting massive profits for offshore corporate owners?
- Are profits reinvested back into communities to help them build resilience in the face of climate change; or, are profits distributed to unknown shareholders?
Get informed: Which electricity providers are credible on the environment?
You may have seen the recent publishing of this year's Green Electricity Guide by Greenpeace. The companies which are highly ranked by the Green Electricity Guide by Greenpeace, have worked hard to bring their renewable energy offerings to the market. Every electricity customer who chooses a 5-star rated green electricity retailer, is driving generation of and investment in renewable energy.
The guide is a fully independent rigorous assessment of Australia’s electricity retailers.
Enova Community Energy is proud to have been recognised with 5 stars and the number one ranking in the 2022 Green Electricity Guide for its commitment to climate and communities. The only other energy retailer that received 5 Stars is Diamond Energy.
The overarching message is that switching to a provider highly ranked in its list is one of the most effective ways climate-concerned Australians can take action on emissions.
If you're witnessing the recent flood events and worsening climate-related disasters and wondering what you can do, we would love you to make the switch to Enova Energy and join us in our vision of accelerating the transition to a renewable future for a better climate and stronger communities.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, but want to know where or how to start or strengthen your climate action journey, here are some words from 2040 Film Director and The Regenerators Founder Damon Gameau that may help:
"We all have to find the thing that we are passionate about, the thing that lights us up because then we are more likely to see it through and to talk about it with passion and a connection that will engage others.
So whether you care about animals, soil, food, energy, transport, forests, mangroves, education, politics, digital information, finance, storytelling, Indigenous rights, water, systems change or anything else - they are all connected to climate change now, or soon will be, and they all require regenerative action."
For more information on making the switch click here.
For Further Reading:
Climate.gov - Climate Change: Global Temperature
IPCC - Climate change: a threat to human wellbeing and health of the planet. Taking action now can secure our future
Climate Council - A Supercharged Climate: Rain Bombs, Flash Flooding and Destruction
Greenpeace Green Electricity Guide - The Green Electricity Guide