Malcolm Turnbull says there is 'no excuse for not moving to zero emissions as quickly as possible'.
The former Australian Prime Minister shared his views on the possibilities and opportunities for renewable energy in Australia with the Ballarat community on Friday during a Committee for Ballarat webinar.
"We must get to net zero emissions as soon as we can," Mr Turnbull said.
"A big part of that is zero emission electricity. The good news is we now have the means to do that and have cheap electricity at the same time."
Mr Turnbull's presentation prefaced Committee for Ballarat chief executive Michael Poulton's introduction of the organisation's strategic priorities for 2020 and beyond.
Mr Poulton said the organisation would work to drive disruptive change in the energy sector in Ballarat, believing 'sustainability needs to form the foundation of our decisions'.
"We see this as a way of being able to create a key differential for our region, economically, socially and environmentally and being able to attract new business and jobs to town," he said.
"The committee is looking to work with members, partners, key stakeholders and community to work towards a sustainable city, that is carbon neutral and driven by 100 per cent renewable energy."
Mr Turnbull said he congratulated the leadership shown to bring a greener, safer and cheaper energy future for Ballarat.
"We have the means of generating abundant, clean, green zero emissions electricity with a combination of renewables and storage," he said.
"There is now literally no economic reason not to move rapidly to zero emission energy and we should be ambitious.
"What could be more important than ensuring our planet is safe for our children and our grandchildren to inherit?"
Mr Turnbull said the employment opportunities for regional Victoria from renewable energy were 'enormous' with a distributed network of solar and wind farms around the country.
"The failure to have an integrated climate energy policy federally, which is only because of the crazy politics in the liberal party frankly, that failure means we have higher emissions and higher electricity prices," Mr Turnbull said.
"How mad is that? How mad can you get?"
Mr Turnbull provided insights into how Ballarat leaders could impact government policy change.
"Ultimately, the only thing that will make politicians sit up and take notice is the risk of losing their seats or losing government or winning government," he said.
"Regrettably there are not enough people in politics motivated by good policy. Politics is increasingly filled with political professionals who are interested in winning power for their own sake.
"You have got to be able to deliver electoral consequences and of course that means changing people's minds.
"If you can demonstrate in your region what a green agenda will deliver in terms of cheaper energy, better amenity so forth, that will have a big impact."
Mr Turnbull said there was potential for regions like Ballarat to create their own mini grid that allowed absolute self reliance.
"If you can create greater independence and reliance you can save a huge amount on transmission and distribution," he said.
"The only constraint is your imagination. The technology is there. It is cheap and it is getting cheaper."
In presenting Committee for Ballarat's strategic priorities, Mr Poulton said the organisation was looking at renewable energy, innovation and new enterprise as a critical part of addressing population growth and liveability.
"We are blessed in this region to have access to natural resources. How do we become a leader in driving that?," he said.
"With whole of community partnerships, together we can draw investment. We will get innovative projects coming to town and will be able to attract more jobs."
Mr Poulton referred to Hepburn Wind as an example and questioned whether a similar model could be scaled to 120,000 or 200,000 people.
"We are excited about the opportunities and capacity to work with partners and region beyond to deliver something very special," he said.
More than 60 committee members, local politicians and representatives from the renewable energy sector joined the webinar via Zoom.