In May 2020, Malcolm Turnbull spoke with members of Committee for Ballarat, declaring that "we must get to net zero emissions as soon as quickly .... and we now have the means to do that and have cheap electricity at the same time."
"It sounds too good to be true." he said. "But it's not."
In July 2020, some of Australia's largest companies - BHP, Woodside, BlueScope Steel, BP Australia, Orica and others - joined together to work towards achieving net zero emissions.
Other major finance and service corporates such as NAB, Schneider Electric and Australian Super have joined the charge, as has the Australian Industry Group and the National Farmers Federation.
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And there's more. Some of the world's largest investors, managing assets worth more than $9 trillion, have committed only to companies with a net zero carbon target.
Our key international trading partners and allies - Japan, South Korea, the UK and, under a Biden administration, the US - along with many others have committed to the 2050 timeframe.
In Australia, all state and territory governments have set ambitious targets, backed with policy and funding to accelerate the rapid transition of the energy sector and the associated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
It does sound too good to be true, but far from being fanciful, the drive to reduce carbon in the atmosphere and mitigate the effects of climate change is well and truly on - and we must do more.
A centrepiece of the recent Victorian budget is a $1.6 billion investment to drive forward our state's clean energy future.
In every regard, this is significant and highlights just how serious the Andrews government is by stepping up to fund the initiatives and technologies that will simultaneously accelerate the state's recovery and create thousands of new jobs.
These investments will help secure a new energy future for our state, reduce carbon in the atmosphere and take real action to slow the warming of our planet.
For Ballarat and the region, our collective effort will not be insignificant.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given us a sense of perspective and possibility, forcing us to re-think what we do, how we do it and how we support each other.
Let's be bold, curious, innovative and progressive in ways that maximise our opportunity and builds our capacity as a regional leader in renewable energy and the circular economy. So much has been and continues to be done.
The GNet Roadmap to Zero Emissions, BREAZE's Social Solar program, Hepburn Wind, the Central Highlands Greenhouse Alliance, the Regional Sustainability Alliance are just a few of the examples of great community led initiatives.
Business, too, is playing its role. McCain, Mars, Federation University, Central Highlands Water, Sovereign Hill, Selkirk and Gekko are just a few of Ballarat's major industries investing in energy efficiency and new technologies.
All our local government areas are developing meaningful plans and policies to match that will deliver more sustainable practice.
As we look to maximise our opportunities to benefit from the state government's most recent funding announcements, we should consider all the "means" Mr Turnbull speaks of. Wind, solar and storage will be our bread and butter.
Restorative and regenerative systems and designing-out waste are at the centre of the circular economy.
Establishing new markets for recycled materials will be key to this and, in Ballarat, glass seems a great place to start.
A localised energy market is achievable and will evolve as the current national energy market evolves to keep pace with the growth in renewable generation.
Smart technology will underpin this evolution, allowing householders and businesses to share the energy they generate from roof top solar.
This model is already proving successful in small towns like Yackandandah.
Our challenge is to find the ways to make this work for a city the size of Ballarat.
Energy operators are identifying a fundamental shift in the generation and distribution of energy.
It's a shift driven by what Origin Energy's CEO calls the "3 Ds - decarbonisation, decentralisation and data.
Ballarat and our surrounding region, is ideally placed to capitalise on these 3 Ds.
We are a region blessed with natural assets and we have the capacity in business, local government and the community to transition to a new energy future.
Our state government has given us an incentive and much more investment will flow from both the private and the government sector because transition makes economic, social and environmental sense.
Ballarat can be a city where sustainable development, renewable energy and the circular economy is positioned at the core of our decision-making, as collectively we plan for our inevitable future growth.
Michael Poulton is chief executive of the Committee for Ballarat.
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