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Coalition unveils its emissions reduction strategy – increase the population

Anyone who has followed the toxic climate change debate over the last decade must be questioning their sanity after the Coalition’s media blitz announcing their newfound interest, and apparent success (according to them), in reducing emissions.

Minister for down down prices are down, Angus Taylor, proudly boasted on The Project (kinda, cause I’m guessing he knows what a con this is) that emissions per capita are at their lowest level in 28 years. That is true. Not because emissions have come down but because the population has increased by over 2 million between September 2013 and now.

Scott Morrison exasperatedly said to Leigh Sales on 7:30 report that he can’t understand why people aren’t praising the Coalition for a “1.1 billion tonne carbon abatement turnaround”.

Perhaps because it didn’t happen?

Annual emissions for the year to September 2013 were estimated to be 542.1 Mt CO2 -e. The latest data (which is 8 months old) shows that emissions for the year to June 2018 were 547.0 Mt CO2-e. Anyone who can count would call that a significant increase in emissions.

Our first Kyoto target was to, by 2012, limit our increase in emissions to 8% above 1990 levels – hardly a worthy goal when the plan was to reduce emissions. Because we didn’t increase by quite as much as we were allowed, we are calling that a carryover reduction to claim towards the next Kyoto target which is to reduce emissions by 5% on 2000 levels.

Just as well because the figures from June 2018 show we are only 2.4% below 2000 emissions and not a hope in hell to meet our 2020 target without that creative accounting.

We have also had the Prime Minister tell us that “Labor’s target of 45 per cent will cost everybody’s wages $9000 a year.”

Say what?

So where did that figure come from? Oh a story in The Australian. And where did their story come from? A two page non-peer reviewed analysis by Brian Fisher whose writing in support of the coal industry has been rubbished before for its inaccuracies and wild assumptions.

ProMo could, of course, have referred to modelling from Frontier Economics which said that power prices will go down by 2030 and that the extent of the decrease is very little different under an emissions reduction target of 26% or 45% – 20.8% for the former compared to 18.3% for the latter – but instead he has gone full throttle into ‘Whyalla wipeout $100 lamb roast’ territory saying Labor’s policy is “a carbon tax on steroids.” The only thing on steroids here is, once again, the hysterical rhetoric.

Another $2 billion over ten years will top up the Emissions Reduction Fund – oh sorry, the Climate Solutions Fund (nothing like a name change to make it seem like you are doing something) – which will be used to pay farmers to not clear land, or to plant some trees. Wonder how that will go with fires and floods and droughts now a regular occurrence.

The Clean Energy Regulator recently cancelled six contracts from the government’s emissions reduction fund because they did not deliver the necessary cuts to carbon emissions. The projects, worth a total of $24m, were cancelled at the end of October and should have delivered 2 million carbon credits.

The six contracts that were cancelled were all land-based projects that would have allowed the restoration or reforestation of land that had previously been cleared.

“To date, none of the projects associated with these contracts have generated abatement,” the regulator’s spokeswoman said. How many other such contracts have also failed to deliver what they promised?

The government’s own agencies admit that the emissions reductions claimed in the land use sector are estimates with a high level of uncertainty.

ProMo also announced some money towards an interconnector between Tasmania and Victoria to help with Victoria’s power supply. But hey, I thought renewables caused blackouts? I can see some Coalition politicians having real trouble embracing this 180 degree turnaround.

It was only October, when asked if Australia would be held to the target to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels, Morrison said: “No, we won’t … we’re not held to any of them at all. Nor are we bound to go and tip money into that big climate fund. We’re not going to do that either. I’m not going to spend money on global climate conferences and all that nonsense.”

What a difference an upcoming election makes – well to the words anyway.

If the lies that have been told on day one of the sales pitch are anything to go by, they are pinning their hopes on us just trusting them and on forgetting that infamous lump of coal so fondly caressed by the man who would have us believe he now gives a damn.

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  1. Nick May

    Great fact filled article Kaye. Thank you.

  2. Miriam English

    I wish we had some mechanism that forced politicians to retract and apologise for blatant lies. The “misleading the parliament” thing seems pretty toothless. We need a “misleading the Australian people” thing. Until we have something like that they will just keep lying their silly heads off.

    We also need the Australian arm of the Murdoch media to be cut off, broken up, and nationalised, or sold to less malevolent private interests, because without Murdoch to endlessly trumpet Morrison’s words he’d be a laughing stock. Nobody would take him seriously.

  3. whatever

    In the NSW election, the Nationals are pledging $25 million for the “Bradfield Plan” of river-diversion.
    This is a poorly conceived idea from 90 years ago, based on surveying data that has is wildly inaccurate by modern standards.
    It is something only old fools on Talk-Back radio believe.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Greg Jericho has gone to town on ProMo’s new policy…

    ” stuff it. I’m done with giving out prizes for pretence. I’m done with being satisfied with something not even worthy of being called a fourth-best policy. I’m done with the lies.

    Do not for one second think this is a policy designed to reduce emissions. It is a political band-aid while the actual wound to our economy from its greenhouse gas dependency is open and festering.

    It is a fraud, and not even a new one.

    It’s the same bulldust that the LNP has been selling the public for nigh on a decade”

  5. Terence Mills

    Now we are being told that Snowy 2.0 is feasible yet economists are saying that there are much better ways of generating renewable and reliable energy that won’t cost anything near the $4.5 billion.

    I liked Katharine Murphy’s comment in the Guardian :

    If the Coalition has had a climate epiphany, I’m Beyoncé.

    And I’m Lady Gaga !

  6. Kronomex

    I’m surprised this idiot doesn’t have a bucket under his chin to catch the bs that’s dripping from his mouth –

    “…Mr Sharma will suggest his diplomatic skills could be useful in convincing US President Donald Trump to rejoin the Paris Agreement.” I nearly coughed my coffee all over the screen when I read that bit from this clown. Talk about having tickets on himself if he believes that he could convince The Donald to…bwahahahaha…

    He’s just taking Scummo’s new found “I’m all for the climate and change.” electioneering gambit and ramping it up. Cretin!

    Mm, coffee and a big ginger and chocky bits bickie.


    “…that won’t cost anything near the $4.5 billion.” Yep, it will be $8 – 10 billion, which is definitely nowhere near $4.5 billion.

  7. Terence Mills

    Scott Morrison (The Sydney Morning Herald): “We’re absolutely on track to meet our 2020 Kyoto emissions reduction target and that’s no small feat. In 2013, we inherited from Labor a 755 million tonne projected deficit on our Kyoto 2020 goal. We are now expecting to over-achieve on the target by 367 million tonnes – a 1.1 billion tonne turn around.”

    There you go, it was Labor’s fault after all !

    PS : I hope somebody is fact-checking this man

  8. Kaye Lee

    OMG Terence. The man is utterly shameless. I am speechless

  9. Mick Bongiorno

    Facts and truth will never make the cut in Morrison’s continuing broadside of lies,the man considers himself omniscient.To anyone who takes an interest in politics in this country Morrison represents a further slide into the dark world of Trumpism, which in large part has been enabled by Murdoch’s trash media.People in general need to take an interest before it is too late.Will it turn around at the next election?I sincerely hope so,the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

  10. Kaye Lee

    As a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, ratified in 2007, Australia committed to limiting increases in net GHG emissions to 108 per cent of its 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012. The National inventory report 2012 demonstrates that Australia surpassed the Kyoto target, with emissions averaging 565 MtCO2-e per year (2008–12), or 103 per cent of the 1990 base level.

    Australia has now committed to reducing its GHG emissions to 99.5 per cent of 1990 levels for the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period (2013–20). This is consistent with Australia’s 2020 target to reduce emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020

    Over the five reporting years in the Kyoto period (2007–08 to 2010-2011 and preliminary 2011-12), Australia’s net emissions averaged 104% of the base year level.

    Australia had an estimated net surplus over 2011-12 of 25.5 Mt CO2 -e. Total net surplus over the entire 5-year first commitment
    period is estimated as 122.1 Mt..

    Gawd I hate liars!

  11. Kaye Lee

    The task of meeting Australia’s 2020 target has fallen over time. In 2008 Australia’s abatement task was estimated at over 1.3 billion tonnes of emissions reductions. This has fallen to 236 million tonnes of emissions reductions.

    The cumulative abatement task also includes the use of units carried over from the Kyoto Protocol first commitment period (CP1) of 128 Mt CO2-e.

  12. Andreas Bimba

    The world must cut CO2 emissions by 5% p.a. with a 2019 start date in order to not exceed the 2degC global warming limit. Global CO2 emissions are still increasing.

    If we just level off at the 2019 emissions and start cutting in 2029 then CO2 emissions will need to be cut by 9% p.a.

    If we started cutting in 2000 it would have only required 2% p.a. cuts in CO2 emissions.

    Delay therefore imposes huge economic burdens and greatly increases environmental damage and risks.

    It is reasonable to expect big per capita emitters in the developed world to make faster CO2 emission reductions than poor nations.

    A 1.5degC global warming limit is far less destructive to the environment and to human welfare than a 2degC limit and is the preferred target necessitating even faster CO2 emission cuts.


    Further to Miriam’s comment about the lying Murdoch media empire. Canada has truth in the media legislation and so Australia could have the same. Lying bastards like Murdoch, Jones, Stokes and the rest should be in the courts and prosecuted for every breach. True independence and adequate funding for the ABC and SBS are also essential. All the media monopolies need to be broken up and perhaps some sort of subsidy for media outlets that provide quality investigative journalism needs to be instituted as this vitally important area for the healthy functioning of democracy is rapidly disappearing.

  13. Geoff Andrews

    In a last desperate, pre-election rummage around in the bottom of the policy barrel, our god-fearing, science eschewing most recent Prime Minister has stumbled on a basic physics fact: if you pick ’em up an’ put ’em down, one stores energy.
    Snowy 2.0 (obviously a superior model to Labor’s Snowy 1.0) involves drilling holes in mountains for five years then pickin’ up water an’ puttin’ it down. However, according to Dr Barnyard “cock-o-the-walk” Joyce only half the energy put in during the day is available later on. It’s like having a battery that can only ever be half charged. Of course, this makes the renewable energy used for pickin’ up the water, twice as expensive! So much for Labor’s energy policy.

    A much cheaper option would be to build a series of towers, each with a 10 tonne weight able to be lifted by electric motor during the day. You could have banks of them with solar panels and wind generators.

    Or how about a rack railway up the side of Mt Kosciuszko with renewable energy dragging up wagons of coal – or, better still, paying customers on a day trip. Oh, the possibilities are endless.

  14. whatever

    What they are talking-up is GeoEngineering, huge projects of the Great Leap Forward variety. Dams and power stations.
    Kick sand in the face of Mother Nature, stop worrying about all that emo Climate stuff.

  15. Andreas Bimba

    Pumped hydro schemes like Snowy Hydro 2.0 do have a lot of merit as they can provide large power outputs relatively quickly (stationary to full power in ~30 sec) whenever needed and are an ideal complement to variable renewable energy supplies.

    Efficiencies of 70% should be achievable which should not be a problem as excess renewable power, which could otherwise be discarded (or switched off), can be used when pumping water to the upper reservoirs. Being closed loop (using the same water over and over again) means they are not affected by drought or the need to release irrigation water unlike regular hydro power.

    Snowy Hydro 2.0 has a planned max. power output of 2,000 MW which is huge and can generate power for 175 hours before needing to start pumping again. This scheme also takes advantage of existing reservoirs and infrastructure and has passed a cost feasibility analysis.

    Considerably more battery storage facilities, additional pumped hydro schemes and load levelling methods such as off peak air conditioning as well as energy efficiency improvements will be necessary for a 100% renewable energy power sector.

    This may be the best thing the Liberals ever started but most likely it will be built during the term of a Labor federal government.

  16. paul walter

    The false proposition that emissions are down means, well, we can build more coal-fired power stations. But for that, we need a fund. What better title than emissions reductions fund?

    AS Kaye Lee says, they may be down per capita simply because the population has grown, and that really betrays the depthless perversity and cynicism of these lunatics.

  17. Kaye Lee

    Our commitment wasn’t to reduce per capita emissions – it was to reduce the actual total amount of emissions.

    Regarding Snowy 2.0 economic feasibility study…..

    All economic analysis has been excluded from the public version of the feasibility study. But the publicly available version does report the “base cost” of Snowy 2.0 (to Snowy Hydro) is likely to be in the range from $3.8 billion to $4.5 billion. This “base cost” excludes land and developments costs, funding and financing costs, GST, project management or hedging costs. And the feasibility study warns that there are risks, opportunities and contingency amounts that significantly affect this range.

    In addition to the costs that Snowy Hydro incurs, Snowy 2.0 will be the largest point connection in the National Electricity Market’s history and will require massive transmission expansion along the Great Dividing Range. TransGrid in NSW provided early estimates of transmission costs in NSW related to Snowy 2.0 of $0.6 billion to $1.4 billion. Estimates of the requirement in Victoria are not yet known but are likely to be even higher because the necessary upgrade to Victoria will be even larger.

    So, in round numbers, a conservative estimate of the total capital outlay attributable to Snowy Hydro 2.0 will be at least $8 billion,

    The feasibility study says that at capacity, Snowy 2.0 will only produce about 1 kilowatt hour for each 1.5 kilowatt hours needed to pump water to the top reservoir. Add to that 10 per cent for losses in transmitting electricity from generators in the Hunter and Latrobe valleys to pump the water uphill. And then add another 10 per cent for losses in transmitting the stored electricity back to the main load centres in Sydney and Melbourne where most of it will be consumed. In other words, Snowy 2.0 will use about 1.8 kilowatt hours for each kilowatt hour that it actually delivers to consumers. By comparison, a battery installed on a customer’s premises or on the local grid can be expected to use about 1.1 kilowatt hour for each kilowatt hour delivered.

    There is also great potential for small scaled pumped hydro that would be much easier to build, cost a miniscule fraction of the price, and which could service local areas reducing the need for large scale transmission infrastructure.

    I am not convinced about Snowy 2.0

  18. Peter F

    They are simply following the example of the Coalition in Victoria which signed a contract for a tunnel with the possibility of massive compensation claims if the opposition beat the Coalition in the approaching election.

    ie. : They are setting a financial trap for the next government, secure in the knowledge that they will not be the ones to pay the price.

    As usual Kaye, you supply us with facts, and I can’t see any alternative (facts)

  19. John Hermann

    If it looks like a con artist, walks like a con artist, and talks like a con artist … …

  20. Andreas Bimba

    Good analysis again Kaye. So your figures come to 67% efficiency for the pumped hydro system and 56% efficiency overall if transmission losses are included.

    Bear in mind with a totally renewable energy electricity generation system which Australia must soon move to, peak generating capacity which would otherwise not be generated as it would be surplus to demand, could be used to power the majority of the pumping period. Large hydro systems also generally have 5 to 10% higher efficiencies than small hydro systems which partially counteracts the higher electrical transmission losses.

    A fully renewable electricity generation system for Australia will require extensive transmission line interconnections and upgrades and the Melbourne to Sydney link via the Snowy Mountains would have needed to be upgraded anyway.

    ‘Beyond Zero Emissions’ who analysed what the grid might look like with a 100% renewable electricity system propose a substantial transmission interconnection between Port Augusta and Perth, Sydney and Melbourne as well as Adelaide to take best advantage of large scale molten salt solar thermal plants that can store heat to provide on demand or off peak generation even without sunlight for a day or two. Much of these transmission line interconnections could be made up of lower cost and higher efficiency High Voltage DC (HVDC) transmission lines rather than HVAC lines.

    Local battery storage, larger battery storage facilities as well as rooftop photovoltaic panels will be a very important part of a renewable electricity system especially for residential needs.

  21. New England Cocky

    @whatever: The Nat$ have long coveted the huge water flow of the Clarence River in northern NSW. It is the greatest volume regular flow in Australia. There is a natural confluence in the headwaters that could easily be dammed and then the flow pumped up & over the Range to flow under gravity west to the Darling via tributaries.

  22. New England Cocky

    Would AIMN be so kind as to cease desist and stop giving Morriscum free publicity by putting his ugly mug as the header pic on articles. In thi article, epic of the hand holding the coal would suffice, and fail to make his face a feature.

  23. whatever

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    On Track Magazine
    The Clarence River.
    The Clarence River. Daily Examiner
    Clarence dam proposal a ‘great lie’
    by David Bancroft
    11th Aug 2009 8:38 AM

    ABSOLUTE misinformation, unacceptable, highly misleading, a great lie, half-baked, inordinately expensive and of negligible benefit … these are a few of the terms environmental groups have been using in response to the latest proposal to divert the Clarence to the west.

    Last week The Daily Examiner reported on moves by members of the Murray Darling Association to have peak flows in the Clarence dammed and then directed into the Murray Darling Basin.

    The association said it would ‘only require 24 per cent of the total maximum storage volume’ to provide similar amounts of water to the Snowy River Scheme and that the system could be gravity fed.

    But Clarence Environment Centre secretary John Edwards said the proposal included one of the greatest smoke and mirrors tricks imposed on a sometimes gullible public.

    He said if the proponents were seeking 24 per cent of flows, it would equate to a dam of 8,000,000 megalitres.

    “The largest dam ever proposed for the Clarence had a capacity of 5,000,000 megalitres,” he said.

    “That dam would have seen the inundation of Jackadgery and the Nymboida village, require re-routing of the Gwydir Highway and Armidale roads totalling 60km and the complete closure of the Old Glen Innes Road between Buccarumbi and Dalmorton.

    “The claim that no pumps would be required and that water would flow downhill through a 22 kilometre tunnel is the greatest lie of all. The water would need to be pumped more than 800 metres upwards through a minimum 60km tunnel to reach the Beardy River.

    “This half-baked plan has most likely been dreamed up by an engineer wanting to build something, who has not the faintest link to reality.””

  24. Peter May

    Good (and funny) article Kaye. Much appreciated your work. Am I paranoid to think that money would be poured into Snowy Hydro then it would be privatized at a later date to balance their books? I’m finding it hard to find any conclusive criticism of Brian Fisher. If anyone has anything that would be handy

  25. Kaye Lee

    Peter May,

    Re Brian Fisher, this is from Monday’s Media Watch

    Step forward economist Dr Brian Fisher, a well-known consultant to the mining industry. And it’s Brian Fisher’s four-page paper, which is not peer reviewed, that is the one and only source for The Australian’s story.

    So, since The Oz didn’t bother to seek a second opinion or alternative view, we asked Dylan McConnell from Melbourne University’s Climate & Energy College to review it for us.

    And he told Media Watch:

    It’s really quite difficult to critique, given the lack of detail. There are clearly some assumptions that make very little sense to me … and many others seem completely unjustified.

    • Email, 22 February, 2019

    And he added:

    It’s very disappointing and discouraging to see such prominent coverage given to what amounts to two pages of ‘analysis’ … without a second or third opinion, or fact checking (especially, given it was clearly known to the journalist that the analysis was not peer-reviewed, and they were preliminary results).

    • Email, 22 February, 2019


    However, his report for Rio Tinto was last week criticised in the Australia Institute’s submission to the NSW Government.

    The Institute claims the assessment has major flaws and fails to fairly present the economic case for continued mining at the Warkworth open cut.

  26. Peter May

    Thank you Kaye! That’s great and again, much appreciated.

  27. Kronomex

    The stench machine…I mean Scummo…is coming back to Tassie AGAIN.

    His desperation and panic in the lead up to the massacre at the election is overwhelming. The promises are going to become ever more farcical as he uses money that has come from the future (we must not forget that the LNP are are the masters of fiscal time travel). If it all falls into a black hole then they can, and most probably will, blame Labor for causing all the problems in the first place.

  28. Kaye Lee

    5 months ago….

    “The renewable energy target is going to wind down from 2020, it reaches its peak in 2020, and we won’t be replacing that with anything,” Mr Taylor said.

    Mr Taylor, who has campaigned against wind farms, said Australia will reach its target to cut emissions from the electricity sector by 26 per cent “without additional intervention”.

  29. Terence Mills

    Interesting ABC TV Foreign Correspondent last night (Tuesday).

    In Texas, reporter Eric Campbell toured a “clean coal” power station that’s held up as a model by the Australian Government. The idea is to capture much of the carbon before it’s expelled into the air.

    But as revealed by the program – and this is one of the reasons that the coalition hate the ABC – the technology is not as clean as it seems. It’s also hugely expensive and when fully applied may save 40% in emissions but effectively makes clean-coal too expensive as a power source when compared with renewables.

    Perhaps the solution is, as the coalition prefer, not to have investigative journalism !

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