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End for fossil fuels

by Ben Cubby of

THIS year is likely to be seen by future historians as the ''beginning of the clean-energy era'', when the world turned decisively towards renewable energy, according to the chief of Australia's climate commission, Tim Flannery.

Professor Flannery will try to shift debate in Australia so that solar and wind power are increasingly seen as a centrepiece of the nation's energy mix, starting with a speech today at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event in Melbourne.

"The global trends we have seen take place this year are not now going to be reversed - it's like a juggernaut," he said. "We've come out of a period where the debate in Australia is very 'low value' in terms of renewables, but we are seeing a clear shift now in a way that we've never seen before."

Professor Flannery pointed to Germany's new energy policy, which sidelines nuclear power in favour of solar and wind energy, rapidly dropping solar panel prices around the world, and India's embrace of ''distributed'' energy networks at the expense of centralised, fossil-fuelled power stations.

For the first time this year businesses around the world invested more in renewables than coal, oil and gas, he said.

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