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Introducing SEI’s Communities on the Frontline Series: Transitioning from Fossil Fuels in Australia

Weaving together several SEI research projects, this new series hears from communities at the centre of Australia’s shifting energy landscape.  

Mother holding her son in nature, and wind turbines in the background via Shutterstock, ID: 165397580.
Mother holding her son in nature, and wind turbines in the background via Shutterstock, ID: 165397580.

The burning of fossil fuels for energy will end, and end soon. On the one hand, climate science tells us that fossil-fuelled economies are literally threatening lives and livelihoods on our fragile planet. On the other hand, technologies and markets are illustrating that a transition to renewables is now cheap and inevitable. The central question for Australia is not whether we will have a transition, but rather exactly how this transition will play out – including who benefits and who is left out. This series showcases SEI’s long-term focus on justice – environmental justice, climate justice, multispecies justice, and here, a just transition.

Sydney Environment Institute’s Communities on the Frontline Series explores the impacts of a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy on a range of local communities on the frontline. This event series links multiple SEI research projects, including Unsettling Resources and Grounded Imaginaries, and highlights the work of the Institute in addressing those often left behind by systemic changes. The series features multiple events that delve into the social and ethical implications of a just transition in the Australian energy sector.

In the first event, Why Can’t We Talk About a Just Transition From Coal in Australia?, we hear from researchers and community members on why the concept of a ‘just transition’ away from coal remains challenging in Australia. The panel brings together community advocates and academics to talk about Australia’s use and export of coal in light of our commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and will reveal key findings on how we can successfully transition Australia’s energy to ensure no one is left behind. In the face of climate change and with the federal election around the corner, the need for Australia’s energy transition is paramount.   

The second event features a screening of a new documentary, Conversations with Coal Miners about Climate Change. Following the screening, filmmaker Kim Nguyen sits down with coal industry representatives and climate activists to unpack how communities can work together and how we can support coal mining communities in the just transition away from fossil fuels. 

The third event, The Battle for a Future: Farming and Extraction, will explore the competing interests of Australia’s agriculture sector and our dependence on fossil fuel extraction. The panel will discuss how the potential for achieving co-benefits and co-designing for farmers, such as maintaining optimal soil health, is threatened by ongoing fossil fuel projects. It will also delve into the key impacts on farming in the Darling Downs in Queensland as a result of Shell and Arrow Energy’s Surat Gas Project. Stay tuned for more information and registration details. 

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Events and key dates 

Why Can’t We Talk About a Just Transition From Coal in Australia?
Wednesday 6 April 2022 | 5.00 – 6.00pm  

Film Screening: Conversations with Coal Miners about Climate Change
Tuesday 12 April 2022 | 5.30 – 7.00pm 

The Battle for a Future: Farming and Extraction
Wednesday 25 May 2022 | 5.00 – 6.00pm 

Learn more about SEI’s upcoming events here