TL;DR: Electricity is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia; you can just opt out by switching your home energy to a provider that gets its energy from renewable sources and doesn't buy fossil fuels; link to a handy independent guide for choosing your new climate-safe provider; 3 steps for making the switch at the end.
"The electricity sector is the largest source of greenhouse emissions in Australia...By switching from a retailer that invests your money in fossil fuels to one that generates or buys energy from renewables, you are voting with your wallet and sending a signal to Australian energy companies that you want them to get serious about tackling climate change." (The Green Electricity Guide)
You guys, I felt SO SILLY when I figured this one out.
I was vaguely troubled by the reality that our home electricity is sourced from fossil fuels, but I didn't know there was anything I could DO about it. We currently rent--to be precise, we live in institutional housing provided by my college--so installing solar panels and/or going off-grid isn't an option for us. I thought home electricity was a necessary evil. We'd turn lights off pedantically, spending our evenings huddled under a single overhead bulb or around the screen of our laptop as we binge-watched Buffy, and instead of buying a heater we piled on jumpers and blankets as winter cold set in.
Then I discovered the Green Electricity Guide, and had a facepalm moment. Ohhhh. I didn't realise we could just switch to a more climate-friendly provider!
The electricity sector is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country--my former provider, AGL, is the LARGEST carbon polluter in Australia! AGL, Origin and Energy Australia are sometimes referred to as "The Dirty Three" because of their vast contribution to emissions.
The climate emergency has prompted a push for economies around the world to de-carbonise their electricity sector. Scotland, for example, now generates enough power from wind to power two Scotlands! Unfortunately, the Australian government doesn't have a meaningful plan to de-carbonise our electricity generation. Unless we move to renewable energy (along with a host of other things), there's no way we'll meet our Paris Agreement targets. It's urgent we step up our game within the next decade or it will be too late to prevent a global environmental catastrophe.
In addition to lobbying our government to take faster, more impactful action towards de-carbonising electricity in Australia, we can start by switching our usage at home. If you're stressed about burning fossil fuels and contributing to emissions to power your residence, it's a massive relief to realise that you can just opt out.
Just take your money out of the hands of companies that have contracts to buy electricity from fossil fuels, and give it to the people who are harnessing energy from sun and wind.
Just stop paying to burn fossil fuels.
Just switch to a climate-friendly energy provider!
1. Check out the green electricity guide to see the impacts of your current provider and choose your new provider. (A popup will appear asking you to enter your details; you don't have to do this to view the guide. Just click "I don't want to sign up yet" at the bottom of the popup.)
2. Make the switch! Just select your new provider and just take the first steps to changing over.
3. Don't let anything stop you. Switching providers can be an admin hassle, I know. It's also likely your previous provider will ring you offering a better deal if you stay. Remind yourself that it's not about money or convenience; it's about averting the worst of the climate emergency so that we have a safe world to live in. There is no value in saving time or cash on your power bill if you don't have a secure environment to inhabit in the future. Stand firm and take one step at a time until the switch is complete.
For extra bonus points:
4. Let your previous provider know why you switched. After you've changed, write a short email to your current provider telling them that you have changed for environmental reasons, and urging them to change the way they source their power. The Green Electricity Guide offers facts about each company that you can use to make your point. (e.g. "It's fantastic that your company offers carbon offsets and green power, but we have taken our business elsewhere because you invest in coal power stations.")
P.S. We switched to Powershop, and if you use this link you'll get $75 credit applied to your account and so will I. But PLEASE don't take this to mean I'm trying to get you to switch to make some cash--nothing could be further from the truth! Choose a different company, or switch to Powershop without using the promo link, but MAKE A SWITCH FOR CLIMATE SAFETY. Thank you, love you all xx