In a scathing research report, Greenpeace reveals that AGL not only was responsible for over 42 million tonnes of GHG emissions last year - more than twice the amount of the next biggest emitter, but they have no plans to slow down in the coming years.
AGL have also breached their licences 111 times, accounting for roughly three quarters of all violations committed by any coal-burning power station in Australia. In total, these breaches cost the company the measly sum of $1.3 million, while the cost to the environment and human health is both impossible to measure in monetary terms, but clearly devastating.
AGL'S CLAIM TO BE “HELPING TO SHAPE A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FUTURE FOR AUSTRALIA” IS CLEARLY TRUE. YOU JUST NEED TO READ IT IN A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT CONTEXT.
Based on the average amount of emissions from AGL’s three coal-burning power stations over previous years, its plan to keep them open until the end of their technical lives will result in a further approximately 746 million tonnes of carbon emissions – a similar amount of emissions that roughly 162 million cars would cause in a year. How green is that?
"AGL PROUDLY ADVERTISES ITSELF TO THE AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC AS GREEN AND ENVIRONMENTALLY-RESPONSIBLE... BUT A DEEPER DIVE INTO AGL REVEALS THAT THE TRUTH ABOUT THE COMPANY IS VERY DIFFERENT TO ITS CAREFULLY CRAFTED PUBLIC IMAGE."
AGL’s ongoing commitment to continue burning coal until the year 2048 will have enormous and damaging consequences. The current actions of AGL increase the likelihood of catastrophic climate change, including the collapse of ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef. It is inconsistent with the goal of the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial era levels.
AGL committed itself to coal only very recently. In fact, only a decade ago it was widely considered the “greenest” of Australia’s biggest energy retailers. According to the company’s 2009 annual report, renewable energy accounted for approximately 34 per cent of its total generation capacity that year – up 8 per cent from the previous year and 25 percentage points larger than the current figure – while coal accounted for just 18 per cent (the remaining 48 per cent was accounted for by gas). The 2009 Annual Report also stated that in the future (an exact year was not given), the company wanted to increase the share of renewable energy generation to 46 per cent of its total capacity and decrease coal’s share to 11 per cent.
But that all changed under its former CEO and Managing Director, Brett Redman. In 2012, Redman was appointed AGL’s Chief Financial Officer and, in that role, turned the company sharply down the path to coal and away from the clean energy future it had been heading towards. He was primarily responsible for AGL’s acquisition of the Loy Yang A Power Station in 2012 and then of the Bayswater Power Station and the Liddell Power Station two years later. In the years since AGL acquired the 3 mines, combined, they have emitted nearly 300 million tonnes of GHGs - a similar amount caused by roughly 65 million cars on the road over a year.
Bizarrely, AGL is also acting in contrast to some of its major competitors with EnergyAustralia recently announcing it will close Victoria’s largest coal-burning power station, Yallourn, four years ahead of schedule in 2028. It is expected this will reduce the company’s carbon dioxide emissions by over 60 per cent relative to today.
According to Greenpeace's report, if AGL maintains its commitment to keep the Bayswater Power Station open until 2035 and its Loy Yang A Power Station open until 2048, it will be sabotaging global efforts to mitigate, and hopefully avoid, catastrophic climate change.
The IPCC Special Report said that if global warming continues to increase at the current rate, it is “likely” to reach an average of 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052, and 2 degrees Celsius in the 2060s.121 According to the IPCC, in order to stop warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, using coal to generate electricity must cease almost entirely by 2050. But, crucially, in order for this to happen, the IPCC says, global coal use for electricity must drop to 78 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030.
The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, was more specific in March this year when he called on Australia and other leading economies to end their “deadly addiction” to coal by the end of the current decade.
“I URGE ALL OECD COUNTRIES TO COMMIT TO PHASING OUT COAL BY 2030 AND FOR NON-OECD COUNTRIES TO DO SO BY 2040. SCIENCE TELLS US THIS IS ESSENTIAL TO MEET THE PARIS AGREEMENT GOALS AND PROTECT FUTURE GENERATIONS.”
The continued rise of clean energy is inevitable: it is not a question of if, but when, Australia will be powered entirely by renewables.
As a giant in the Australian energy sector, AGL can ensure this transition happens as quickly as possible. By committing to keep burning coal until 2048 instead of exiting it before 2030, AGL is jeopardising both human and planetary health. But it is also jeopardising its own financial position given the three coal-burning power stations it owns are unlikely to remain profitable over the next decade.
You can make your voice heard by telling AGL, switching suppliers and complaining as a shareholder and reading the extensive Greenpeace report.
All images, data and charts in this article are from the Greenpeace report. You can find all references to other sources in the report.
I’m appalled by AGL’s behaviour and even more so that I returned to them as a customer last year believing the greenwashing and even paying extra to ensure our power was carbon neutral. I recently got an email from them telling me how I could live more sustainably - what a joke! Even more so when I replied and asked them what THEY were doing to be more sustainable I got a notice saying that contact email was no longer being monitored and I could write them a letter. Instead I have already disconnected our gas with them and will immediately today switch energy providers. I’ve also shared this article in several groups. As for Brett Redman - I hope these crimes against humanity don’t go unpunished.
Tuesday, 20 July 2021