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$10b target set as Jay warns of extreme weather threat

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Jay Weatherill has warned “extreme events” such as last week’s fatal Pinery bushfires will become more common with the onset of global warming, as his Government today reveals a bid to attract $10 billion of investment in low carbon energy generation.

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The Premier jets off today to strut the international stage, joining world leaders at the Paris climate summit.

He will arrive flaunting his commitment to the cause; last week he announced a strategy to make South Australia “carbon neutral” by 2050, and his Government will today unveil “a low carbon investment plan” to make SA a “test-bed” for renewables, InDaily can reveal.

The document details a strategy “to achieve $10 billion of investment in low carbon energy generation by 2025”.

It further recommits to ensuring half the state’s electricity production will come from renewable energy within a decade.

“It would be a great achievement if we can put SA on the international map, in terms of global warming and our response to it,” Weatherill told InDaily.

The bushfire season is becoming earlier and earlier, and events are becoming more dramatic

Describing his carbon neutrality bid as “a pretty big, bold, ambitious target”, he said: “We want to attract investment and partnership to assist us with the challenges of these targets we’ve set ourselves.”

“They require us to overcome some technological challenges (but) we think there are big opportunities for us in the low-carbon economy,” he said.

As world leaders gather to tackle the climate issue, Weatherill believes a tangible change since the 2009 Copenhagen summit is a newfound sense of commitment, and “the way states, countries and cities see things as a set of opportunities rather than a series of threats”.

“In a place like SA, the driest state in the driest continent, we’re likely to see more extreme weather events like bushfires and other extreme weather events which threaten our state, so it’s imperative to be part of an international solution and be at the forefront of technologies that can solve this,” he said.

Asked whether he believed climate change was a factor in the blaze that swept north of Adelaide in recent days, leaving two dead and around 90 homes destroyed, Weatherill said: “I don’t think you can describe any single climatic event and attribute it to global warming, but science tells us we can expect more extreme events of this sort.”

“The bushfire season is becoming earlier and earlier, and events are becoming more dramatic,” he said.

“Last year was the warmest year on record, so no doubt we’re seeing changes (but) whether one particular event can be put down to this is really difficult to say.”

The Government’s investment plan outlines a strategy to provide clear policy and an “efficient regulatory environment” to prospective industries, as well as committing to be “an early adopter of technology”.

Weatherill will play a significant role at the summit, with SA co-chairing the climate group discussions, a role secured by former Premier Mike Rann.

“We’ve really, if anything, stepped up our engagement with the climate group,” said Weatherill.

“We’ve been invited to attend some international forums and I’ve been invited to address the conference on adaptation.”

He’ll also meet with political and business leaders “on the low-carbon economy”, hoping “to get in touch with the latest and most advanced ideas about combating global warming”.

“We’ll be inviting them to come to SA, and really offer SA as a test-bed for technologies and ideas and new ways of thinking about dealing with global warming,” he said.

“There are massive economic opportunities around encouraging these businesses…it’s also about essentially marketing our state to visitors and investors and students, really putting us on the international stage.”

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