Saul Griffith: Australia can fix global warming for $1 trillion, ‘electrify everything’ and get rid of cars

Sydney-born inventor Saul Griffith explained how Australia can rapidly solve climate change, get to zero emissions during an interview with ABC. The price tag: $1 trillion.

His message is simple: “electrify everything”.


“If I had to choose the country for whom electrifying everything is the best economic win in the shortest amount of time … it is Australia,” Griffith said.

With a population of 10 million, Griffith’s hypothesis is to replace technologies that still run on combustion with alternatives that run on renewable electricity, including electric cars and reverse-cycle air conditioners.

“It is an easy slam dunk,” Dr Griffith said. “It’s not even particularly invasive to our quality of life.

“For every other country, including America, it’s much harder and the economics are not as good.”

Currently about one-fifth of Australia’s 10 million households have rooftop solar.

Dr Griffith estimates that would increase to about three-quarters of households.

You’ve got to get the thing on the roof, you’ve got to change the two things in the garage, you’ve got to put two vehicle chargers in the house,” he said.

“You have to electrify the water heater, electrify the space heating, and have some form of batteries in the house, as well as the vehicle batteries.

“And then probably you need to upgrade the electrical panel.”

Dr Griffith estimates the acquisitions would cost about $100,000 per household.

Multiplying that by Australia’s 10 million households equals $ 1 trillion.

Big appliances like hot water heaters can last 20-30 years, but households may be encouraged to switch earlier by considering the savings generated by using cheaper electricity over gas.

“If you started replacing those machines in 10 million houses and you took until 2030 to do it — so roughly a million houses a year — by about 2024, every household that’s done that will be saving a few thousand dollars a year,” Dr Griffith said.

“By 2030, 100 per cent of homes would be saving [$5,000 or $6,000) a year on their current costs of owning cars and powering their house.”

The government could offer a system of cheap loans to help households to electrify, he proposed.

“The advantage that fossil fuels have is that they’re cheap on day one. The problem is they cost you more money to run on day two,” he said.

“The challenge for electrification is it’s expensive on day one and much cheaper to run on day two.”

“Rapid and deep cuts to greenhouse emissions are much easier than most people think,” Andrew Blakers, the director of the Australian National University’s Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems said.

“We can get to 80 per cent emissions reductions by 2035 and we don’t need any new technology at all.”

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