SYDNEY – [AAP]
Former US vice president and environmental campaigner Al Gore has praised South Australia’s deal to build the world’s biggest battery and hopes the entire country will embrace renewable energy.
Mr Gore describes the plan for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Tesla to build to the 100 megawatt lithium ion battery as ‘extremely impressive’, saying it will make South Australia a world leader.
‘The reason it’s so important is that the sun doesn’t shine at night and the wind doesn’t blow all the time so if you can store it and use it when you need it then the cheaper cost of renewable electricity can be enjoyed around the clock,’ he told AAP on Monday.
Mr Gore is in Australia promoting his latest documentary about climate change, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, that opens in cinemas in August.
The film comes a decade after his Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth shocked people worldwide into action on tackling the threats posed by climate change.
Renewable energy will be high on the list of topics Mr Gore will discuss with state premiers and local mayors during meetings this week in Sydney and Melbourne, where the 2000 presidential candidate will also address the Ecocities Summit.
Mr Gore said given the availability of solar, wind and batteries as renewable energy sources and their dramatic fall in cost, it makes economic sense for countries to switch from heavy polluting fossil fuels.
He hoped Australia would put shifting to renewable energy ‘at the top of the list’ of priorities to tackle climate change, saying not only would the move help reduce greenhouse gases, it would create jobs.
‘Those countries that take a leadership role will benefit most from the new jobs that are being created,’ Mr Gore said.
‘The fastest growing jobs in the world are in renewable energy. In my country solar jobs are growing 17 times faster than other jobs in the economy.
‘And if you look at what China’s doing and what India’s doing they are turning away from coal.
‘They’ve shut hundreds of coal burning generating plants, they are closing a lot of their coal mines because they see that not only is renewable electricity cheaper but it creates more jobs.’
China, India and Australia were among 19 world powers at last weekend’s G20 meeting in Hamburg that reaffirmed support for the Paris climate agreement after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal.
Mr Gore was pleased to see the group holding firm on the 2015 agreement signed by 196 nations that pledged to reduce carbon emissions.
‘Of course it would be so much better if the president of the United States would help to lead the world instead of being off isolated in the corner by himself,’ he said.
‘But the rest of the world gets it, the rest of the world is moving forward.’