Life after coal: pathways to a just and sustainable transition for the Latrobe Valley

30 Sep 2016

The Latrobe Valley has a proud history of supplying the electricity that powers Victoria. But coalburning power stations are ageing and – responding to climate change – the world is moving rapidly to cleaner energy sources. In this shifting context, the Latrobe Valley faces inevitable change. The question is: how will that change be managed?
With recent news that Hazelwood power station may close as early as in April 2017, there is a narrow window of opportunity to ensure that the Latrobe Valley prospers during the transition to a cleaner economy, rather than suffers as it did during previous economic changes. A ‘just transition’ is a framework for managing the shift towards such new economies, with a focus on inclusive participation for those affected and a fair distribution of the costs and benefits of change.
This report explores what a just, and well-managed, transition process for the Latrobe Valley might look like.
How we respond to climate change in the next decade will be critical – not just for the Latrobe Valley, but for the entire Australian and global community. It will either be a time of chaotic change as the global economy crashes headlong into the realities of climate change and vulnerable communities are left to fend for themselves, or it will be an exciting and inspirational time where we grasp the opportunities of the future with both hands and make sure the benefits of a sustainable economy are shared fairly.
The tools we could use to effectively combat climate change hold enormous potential. Creating community-owned, renewable power grids, upgrading the efficiency of our homes and businesses, and developing new sustainable building technologies – to name just a few – will also help address the social equity and health problems that are disproportionately experienced by communities like the Latrobe Valley.
From Page 26 to 49, this document provides 5 case studies from community-driven transition projects and discussions. These five opportunities are not offered as definitive answers. Rather, they should contribute to the broader conversation about transition, providing specific examples of what new industries could look like. Consideration should also be given to finding new ways to support existing industries in the region – such as agriculture and health – so they continue to grow sustainably. The common theme that unites these opportunities is a focus on sustainability – delivering both environmental and social benefits.