Australia’s new Chief Scientist sees a coal-free future

Australia’s new Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, has advocated an end to the use of fossil fuels, but acknowledges that it will not happen “overnight”.

“My vision is for a country, a society, a world where we don’t use any coal, oil, or natural gas because we have zero-emissions electricity in huge abundance,” Dr Finkel said.

Dr Finkel, who is Chancellor of Monash University and publisher of and regular contributor to Cosmos magazine, will take up his new role in January.

The Australian science community has welcomed his appointment, saying Dr Finkel’s background as an electrical engineer, a neuroscientist and an entrepreneur equips him perfectly to advise the Prime Minister and other ministers on science, technology and innovation.

Finkel will replace Professor Ian Chubb, who will have held the role for almost five years when his tenure concludes in December.

At the event to announce his appointment, Dr Finkel said that Australia should be considering nuclear energy as part of the mix to lower the country’s carbon emissions.

“It’s something that absolutely should be considered for a low emissions or a zero emissions future, but it’s not the only way forward,” Dr Finkel said. “With enough storage we could do it in this country with solar and wind.”

Dr Finkel has long advocated the use of electric vehicles to lower emissions, arguing in a column in Cosmos that we need to look for cleaner energy sources.  He has also identified the need for more investment in large-scale battery technology.

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