letter to the CFMEU of Western Australia: a shift from coal mining to sustainable, renewable energy

25 08 2008

UPDATE: No signs of a response to this unfortunately. 1/9/2008

Dear CFMEU WA,
I’m not really sure how to go about this because I fear you might regard me as hostile to you in some way. I hope you will believe me when I say I am not!

By way of brief introduction, I am studying renewable energy policy at Murdoch university in Perth, and I have a strong commitment to working to avoid disastrous climate change in ways that are socially just and equitable. I hope that we have common ground in the desire to avoid truly catastrophic climatic impacts to our communities, our families, our state, our country, and the world as a whole.

As a private citizen, I want to ask you what is no doubt a difficult question: do you think that, given the right training, assistance, and government and community support, your members in the coal mining industry in Collie would be prepared to accept a shift from mining of coal to working on renewable energy systems such as wind farms, solar- and geo- thermal power stations, solar photovoltaic array systems, wave energy systems, and the like? I used the word ‘accept’ but in many ways I mean ‘want to’ or ‘be interested in’ as well. And the first part about ‘given the right training’ is absolutely critical. As recent studies for the Hunter Valley have shown, a *just transition* for coal mining areas is not only completely possible, it is absolutely necessary if we as a society are to move away from coal-fired electricity to sustainable energy systems.

With great commitment, I earnestly believe that we must urgently stop any new coal-fired power stations, work to shutdown existing ones as quickly as possible, and do so while working intimately with affected communities to shift to a different energy path equitably and justly.

I am very interested to know your members’ thoughts on this. I speak alone today but want to begin working towards these goals with others as soon as possible.

I honestly don’t know how you will react to this message. I can only say again that I want to work with you, not against you.

And lastly I suppose I genuinely want to hear from the ONLY people who can honestly say whether working out in the sun with a wind turbine is at least as tolerable as working in the coal mines.

Thank you very much for your time!

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