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Despite sloganeering and politicking, there is no single solution to resolve the profound and conflicting pressures posed by climate change and the nation’s energy needs. There are many potential solutions, but they require investment, collaboration and genuine government support.

Solar, wind, hydro and other renewable energy sources, backed by massive battery storage systems, will be the future. Coal-fired power stations exist for now, but the infrastructure is ageing and increasingly unreliable. Commercial operators and their financiers are no longer prepared to invest in new coal-fired power stations and, as the Morrison government well knows, that is the free market waving madly. Investment signals point away from carbon-fuelled energy systems.

Still, Australia needs to ensure its short-term residential and commercial energy requirements are met as it transitions to a new era in which renewable sources dominate. To that end, the federal government’s $2 billion grab bag of energy grants and promises to NSW is welcome, but the detail is sorely lacking. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has touted it as a “landmark” federal-state deal that will reduce energy prices, bolster gas production, foster renewables, curb emissions and improve the energy distribution grid. A bit like wonder soap, really. Except that it’s not all clean and it does not entirely fix the long-term needs.

Grid upgrades are necessary to cater for the influx of a plethora of sources of renewable energy coming online and, hopefully, some of the emissions-capture and abatement programs will genuinely curb carbon output. But to get the money, the NSW government has bowed to the demands of the federal government to free up access for promoters of fossil fuels: coal and gas.

Mr Morrison said the NSW proposal is the first in a series of deals with the states, although any deal with Victoria will require the Andrews government to dump its current ban on all onshore oil and gas exploration and production, which expires on June 30.