Politics, not lack of technology, is holding back climate change action, says Hunter summit speaker

Alarm: NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers fight a Charmhaven fire on New Year's Eve. Picture: Supplied.
Alarm: NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers fight a Charmhaven fire on New Year's Eve. Picture: Supplied.

SEVEN years ago Melbourne University academic Professor John Wiseman co-wrote the Post Carbon Pathways report that called for urgent action to avoid catastrophic global warming.

In February he will speak at a Hunter conference where coal community representatives from across the country will discuss the "national coal-power phase out".

Hunter Community Environment Centre will host the Power and Pollution: National Community Summit at Lake Macquarie on February 8 and 9.

Up to 200 people from coal communities including Gladstone and Darling Downs in Queensland, La Trobe Valley in Victoria and Lithgow, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter will hear from speakers including Professor Wiseman and Australian Transitions Academy Professor Michael Askew.

"The summit stems from growing community concerns about the lack of Federal policy and planning for the diversification of Australia's domestic energy sector," said summit organiser Jo Lynch.

"The lack of policy and planning leaves communities in coal-power regions and electricity consumers uncertain about the economic, environmental and social challenges associated with the change unfolding across the electricity industry."

The summit will consider social, economic, government, industry and community processes associated with the decommissioning and transition of Australia's ageing coal-fired power stations, including the Hunter's Liddell and Bayswater stations, Ms Lynch said.

The first day of the summit is open to the public.

In Post Carbon Pathways Professor Wiseman noted that the technological and economic paths needed to avoid catastrophic global warming were "now widely understood".

"The biggest roadblocks preventing implementation of large-scale de-carbonisation strategies at the speed required to prevent runaway climate change are primarily political, not technological," Professor Wiseman wrote in 2013.

The summit will occur in the wake of catastrophic bushfires across most states of Australia this summer, that have led to renewed calls for global climate action and urgent reduction of emissions. The bushfires have also highlighted divisions within Australia's political parties on the issue.

This story Coal regions summit in wake of horror bushfires first appeared on Newcastle Herald.