This is a huge change from a time in 2002, when there was not a single wind turbine in his state, Mike Rann, Premiere of South Australia, said at a lecture in Mumbai. R Srinivasan reports.The Australian Trade Commission in association with Welingkar Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, organised a lecture to be presented by Mike Rann, MP and Premiere of South Australia, based on the theme of 'Leadership in a carbon-constrained economy'.Mike Rann has been the Premiere of South Australia since 2002 and is the 41st premiere of the region. Upon taking office, he also became Australia's first minister of sustainability and climate change and his government became the first jurisdiction in the nation and third in the world to introduce dedicated climate change legislation. He has also served as co-chair of the UK-based Climate Group International States and Regions Alliances. He is also the Minister of Economic Development Social Inclusions Sustainability and Climate change.Addressing the audience, he said that he was the first climate change minister not just in Australia, but also the entire world. Speaking of the renewable energy journey of his state since 2002, Mike Rann, MP and Premiere of South Australia, said, "When I was elected in March 2002, there was not one single wind turbine operating in my state. Today, because we went out aggressively to support renewable energy, I am very proud to report that we have 54 per cent of Australia's wind power. We easily lead in solar energy. We started out in an educational way by putting solar panels to power our museum, art gallery, central library, airport and our agricultural conventional centre, which is registered as a power station in itself given the amount of energy that it produces. We also put solar panels on the roofs of hundreds of schools in our state to integrate what is happening with renewable energy on the roofs of those schools in the kids curriculum and they could see everyday what was being produced in terms of power put up on the roof and everyone knows about sunny days and everything was incorporated in their science and environment curriculum. The end result I mentioned is the 54 per cent of the nation's wind power."Speaking about renewable energy targets, he said, "As a report by the national government on who is doing the best in terms of renewable energy, the national government challenged all the states to have 20 per cent of their power coming from renewable energy by 2020. Most states said that would be too hard. But South Australia with no hydraulic electricity, has reached that target of 21 per cent, nine years ahead of schedule. If South Australia was a nation rather than a state, we would be second only to Denmark in terms of what we are doing in wind power and probably other areas of renewable energy."About decoupling growth and emissions he added, "We are the first state of Australia to actually have a designated climate change carbon reduction legislation and we have signed a whole series of agreements with industries such as the wine industry, such as our university, our Anglican church, our cement industry and our property industry, which enter into a voluntary agreement to reduce the emissions they produce. In a state that is experiencing record economic growth and has joined the middle of global financial crisis for not only the lowest unemployment in Australia but the lowest unemployment in our state's history, we are really pleased that during a time of record growth, we have had a record drop in carbon emissions. We have been able to decouple growth and emissions. We can do it if you want to do it and you can do it if you are smart. We also introduced feed-in legislation which encourages people to take up solar power for their own homes. During the day, homes with solar panels on their roof pump more energy into the network than they actually take out. We reward people by paying them double for the energy they produce. So every single household becomes its own power station. So we lead in terms of proportion for electricity coming from solar as well as wind."Responding to a query about nuclear energy, he said, "We in South Australia have 40 per cent of the world's known uranium. In fact, I am about to go back into negotiation on our return. It will be the world's biggest mine valued at $1.4 trillion and it will also be the world's biggest uranium mine with an output bigger than all the Canadian mines put together and Canada is currently the biggest producer of uranium. It will be the fourth biggest copper mine and the fifth biggest gold mine all under one resource. We have other uranium mines. In my state it is the biggest source of uranium in the world which is being used for nuclear power around the world. And you are right that we do not have nuclear power in my state. The question is, how do you have so much uranium and not have nuclear power? That is because we do not have enough population size. People for business would not appreciate doubling of their electricity prices.""We have vast amounts of gas and wind and potentially massive amounts of geothermal power. So, Australia in that sense is in a very lucky position of choice. What I am trying to do is reduce the dependency on coal and we have effectively done that. Gas is now prominent and we are in a position where gas, wind and solar are being used. The answer is that we supply the world with uranium particularly to Europe and Japan and other areas. As far as the nuclear power in my state is concerned, we do not have the population size to justify it."He summed up his lecture and praised Gujarat's contribution to the renewable sector in India. Speaking about the importance of 60 - 80 per cent of decisions that affect climate change, emissions and the environment, which are made by cities and states, he said, "So my message today is that it is not just important for nations to sign agreements, but also important for states to lead, rather than just follow their national government. Gujarat is doing some really good things in terms of renewable energy."
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