Majestic humpback whales escorted the Esperanza as she sailed through the Sydney Harbour heads this morning, heading up the eastern seaboard to spread the message that it’s time for clean, renewable energy to be powering Australia. With 33 crew on board, from the captain to campaigners, deckhands and office volunteers, we are an excited and eclectic bunch, with a shared passion for protecting the environment.

Eight hours of stretching coastline later we are about to arrive at Newcastle, the world’s largest coal port. Given the region’s reliance on coal, it’s a great place to open the discussion about the economic opportunities in a transition to renewables. The Hunter region has a proud tradition of community opposition to the local coal industry. We want to join with Hunter residents in urging the government to break the shackles of the coal industry and start to back the solutions instead. We’ll be there talking about our recent report showing the potential for the Hunter to become a hub for renewable energy technology if coal-fired power were phased out.

The fact is that coal is the single biggest contributor to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is inevitable that we have to end our reliance on coal-fired power if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. We’ve done the modelling to show that we can phase coal out in Australia by 2030, without slowing economic growth or losing Australian jobs, by accelerating renewables and energy efficiency measures. All that’s lacking is the right policy support, which would see a massive investment in the renewable energy industry and allow the oldest and dirtiest coal plants begin to be shut down.

See our reports on an Energy [R]evolution in Australia

and buildling a renewable energy industry in the Hunter Valley.