Climate and costs generating concern for young families

Patrick Matweew, Chief Executive Officer, Redback Technologies

One of the things that has been most remarkable this year is how school-age children have engaged in the climate change conversation. Starting with a Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg, we saw the School Strike 4 Climate spread across the globe. It’s uplifting to see how our younger generations are putting their energy into fighting for change.

Of course, Australia joined in too. An estimated 300,000 Australians across the country marched for climate action at the Global School Strike 4 Climate on 20 September.

Now we’ve learnt that it isn’t just children but younger families in general who are the most concerned about our nation’s inaction on climate change. In fact, 80 per cent of young families agree Australia could do more to reach Paris Climate Agreement goals, according to our survey of more than 1,000 Australian residents conducted by Lightspeed Research.

And while four in five (80 per cent) Australians believe the government is responsible for contributing to a renewable powered future, less than half (44 per cent) of Australians believe that the government has been successful.

Now young families are keen to take matters into their own hands. More than any other sector of Australian society, they see themselves as having a role to play in ensuring we move towards a renewable future.

That’s really encouraging. As young parents, they must wonder what kind of world they’re going to leave to their children. After all, younger generations are the ones who will be around to see the worst effects of climate change.

But younger families also have more immediate concerns when it comes to how we secure our energy. We learnt that more than half of young families dreaded opening their last energy bills and a similar percentage (54 per cent) were shocked by what they owed.

What’s less encouraging is that, despite this concern, less than half (45 per cent) have considered buying solar energy and battery storage systems. This is one of the most powerful ways that homeowners can take back control over their energy future and finances, and ultimately, Australia’s energy and climate future. Among the general public, only a third have expressed an interest in solar energy and battery storage systems.

What this tells me is that we as an industry have work to do. There’s clearly an education gap when it comes to solar and battery systems which the industry must address. We at Redback take on some responsibility for that and we encourage our industry peers to do the same. It’s imperative that we continue to help homeowners understand how solar and battery storage systems will help them achieve both their sustainability and financial goals, including how state subsidies can overcome some of the initial purchasing barriers.

We also call on the government to further assist homeowners by creating an aligned, national approach to supporting homeowners looking to purchase solar and storage systems. This includes providing easier energy network access for consumers looking to feed into the grid and setting sensible standards that don’t increase red tape for users looking to go renewable.

For Australia’s future and the health of our industry, it’s time to help not just young families, but all Australians take control on climate and costs.