Indigenous communities forced to rely on dirty, expensive and unreliable power want a seat at the table to ensure Australia's renewables boom works for them.
Warumungu traditional owner Norman Jupurrurla Frank is part of a network working to ensure projects secure Indigenous jobs and respect native title. "For too long, our communities have been forced to rely on dirty, expensive and unreliable power that is undermining our people's health and wellbeing," the Tennant Creek man said.
"Clean energy is the medicine that our people need. I dream of having solar on every house in town.
The First Nations Clean Energy Network aims make sure the development of renewables doesn't join the long list of things done to, and not with, Indigenous Australians.
Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owner and distinguished silk Tony McAvoy SC is concerned the transition is not being regulated in a way that sufficiently protects First Nations rights and participation.
The network, being launched this week backed by climate and union groups, wants to develop agreements with companies and investors ensuring benefits are shared equally with Indigenous Australians.
It aims to put communities in the driver's seat about how projects will work, and advocates for the lifting of state and federal barriers to renewable investment.
"If we are not at the table as owners, experts and the spiritual custodians of the landscape, the renewables explosion will be yet another action done 'to' rather that 'with' us," Mr McAvoy said.
The Morrison government insists coal production will remain a key pillar of Australia's economy for decades and won't update its 2030 emissions reduction target.
"We didn't sign up to shutting down the coal industry, which would have been absolutely economically devastating for our nation because it's our second biggest export," Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told ABC radio.
The Nationals have also ruled out agreeing to lift Australia's 2030 emissions reduction target beyond a 26 to 28 per cent cut on 2005 levels, despite growing pressure from some government backbench MPs.
"This is not the view you get from Singleton or Muswellbrook and it's not the view you get from Gladstone," Mr Joyce said.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor maintains it's enough for the government to keep updating its projections, currently predicting an emissions cut of between 30 and 35 per cent this decade.
Britain's high commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell, wants countries to look beyond their own interests and at the collective future of the planet.
"It is clear is that the trajectory for unabated coal power is set," she told Sky News.
"And in that time, it is about the investment the new technology and the new industries and the huge opportunity for Australia as a net exporter of renewable energy."
Australian Associated Press story published across various outlets, 16 November 2021