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Kicking climate down the road

By 2353NM

You’re probably aware of some who don’t see the need to reduce emissions. They have a lot of different reasons or excuses for the position, including the current systems have served us well in the past, we’re only a small population so our changes won’t mean much or just a general reluctance to consider the future. These people typically will not like Dr Saul Griffin who is Australian, an adviser to the current US President and a global advocate for net zero emissions using a really simple process – electrify everything.

Dr Griffin claims

The general idea is to replace technologies that still run on combustion with alternatives that run on renewable electricity: swap petrol cars for electric vehicles (EVs) and gas heaters with reverse-cycle air conditioners.

By electrifying everything that can be electrified, Australia could cut its emissions by 80 per cent by 2035, according to credible estimates.

And it wouldn’t need to invent any new technology to do this.

And how does Dr Griffin believe we generate the power for this transformation?

The main reasons Australia has an advantage in electrification is its geography and relatively small population, Dr Griffith said.

“We have the best solar resources, we have the best wind resources, we have a giant landmass so we can produce copious quantities or renewable energy — more than we need for ourselves.

“Our giant houses have very large roofs … we can generate enormous amounts of our residential and even our transportation loads off our own rooftops.”

While the Government’s 43% emissions reduction by 2030 is far better than the former Coalition Government’s 26% to 28%, clearly it’s not that hard to do better.

So now you’re thinking if it’s that easy to get to net zero emissions, we could have done it years ago. The companies that supply the items needed to get to net zero should just get their act together and have the right products available for sale. Sadly, it’s not that easy and that’s where the politics comes in. The ‘right products’ are in high demand.

Volkswagen’s Australian General Manager claimed in 2021 that the company sold 212,000 electric vehicles across the world in 2020.

Volkswagen didn’t ship any EVs to Australia in 2020, despite many Australians asking to buy them, said Michael Bartsch, general manager of Volkswagen Group Australia.

“There isn’t a day go by where we’re not answering a query on when we’ll be able to supply an electric vehicle in Australia,” he said.

So why not meet this demand?

Because his global head office, located in Germany, won’t agree to it, Mr Bartsch said.

“Australia has some of the most lax environmental standards in the world.

“We are a Third World dumping ground in terms of automotive technology.

“We’ll put those cars where we get the biggest commercial advantage, and the biggest commercial advantage of the moment, when you overlay the fines for not achieving the CO2 targets, is Europe.”

Fair enough too. If Volkswagen would be fined, it’s logical to expect that every other vehicle manufacturer that supplied cars to Europe would be in the same position. Volkswagen aren’t the only ones ‘making adjustments’ for our pathetic environmental record over the last decade, Hyundai Australia effectively conducts a raffle for the right to purchase one of their pre-configured new design electric vehicles while you will apparently be waiting for years for Kia’s version of the same car.

The leaders of the former Australian Government at the time were claiming that if sales of emissions intensive utility vehicles fall, the weekend would be ruined, or more disingenuously that there are no electric utility vehicles manufactured anywhere in the world. Why would Volkswagen and others attempt to sell ‘in demand’ electric vehicles in Australia (where the government of the day didn’t give a toss) while being fined for not selling enough electric vehicles in regions that are taking emissions reduction far more seriously?

According to The Guardian

In 2014, the Climate Change Authority recommended Australia adopt standards to reduce emissions intensity of cars. It failed to do so, and became an outlier, with countries representing 80% of the global market opting to impose such standards.

In 2018, the average emissions intensity for new passenger vehicles in Australia was 169.8 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, compared to 129.9 in the United States, 120.4 in Europe and 114.6 in Japan.

Clearly this was seen as another attack on ‘the weekend’ by the former government and nothing was ever done about it, except for some ‘promises’ around tightening fuel standards in 2027, which the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government never got around to legislating (unlike the ‘Stage 3’ tax cuts). When the lack of fuel standards and emissions regulations are considered, the statement of Volkswagen’s Michael Bartsch is even more telling. Apart from Russia, Australia is the only country in the OECD that doesn’t have fuel efficiency standards. The Australia Institute released a report in August 2022 that

shows that $5.9 billion in fuel costs would have been saved and emissions equivalent to a year’s worth of domestic flights would have been avoided, if robust fuel efficiency standards were adopted in 2015.

At the same time, Australian Governments are actively subsidising fuel companies. The Conversation reported recently

Australia spends billions each year giving subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, despite our climate change commitments. The Australia Institute estimates that in the 2021-22 budget period, Australian federal and state governments’ total fossil fuel subsidies cost A$11.6 billion. That’s up $1.3 billion on the previous year.

Yet there are claims by the climate change skeptics that financial support to increase the uptake of electric vehicles should not be allowed.

Logically those that are arguing for no change are in a difficult place. The petrol pump was only invented around 100 years ago, some time after motor vehicles were introduced. A lot of people who had forged a career in looking after horses and carts had to re-skill. Prior to the advent of the motor car and suitable roads (which arguably have yet to arrive in parts of Australia), the way to ‘get away’ was to catch a train or walk, not jump into your car and drive for hundreds of miles. To seriously suggest that generations of families have hooked up the caravan or boat behind the oversized Tonka truck and driven for 500 miles without stopping as some politicians and climate change skeptics have attempted to do is ridiculous. It’s even more ridiculous when it suggested that the caravan is hooked up every weekend.

Albanese’s ALP Government is at least doing something to prepare for our inevitable future, unlike the Coalition Governments of the past decade who realistically did nothing except wreck a perfectly good emission trading scheme. Whether the government is acting fast enough is a discussion for another day, however faster is apparently possible. All kicking emissions reduction down the road has really done is ensured we gained a reputation of being seriously out of step with the majority of the world, we are worse off economically and we’ll have to work harder and cut emissions faster to get back on track.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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13 comments

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  1. Michael Taylor

    As always, NM, you’ve provided us with another corker.

  2. New England Cocky

    The watchwords of the Liarbral Nazional$ COALition politicians pre-selected by unelected political hacks are seen in this article; ill-educated, ignorance, incompetence and uncaring self-service.

  3. Goog

    Gotterdammerung Syndrome , like the Jan 6 Trump inspired riot

  4. wam

    I think there are labor voters who are not climate change believers.
    Perhaps enough, after reading tlob and his ilk, to be frightened to vote labor and desert?
    ps
    It is possible others(banana benders??) believe the extremists and also desert labor???
    Yet another dumper for labor surfers.

  5. Andy56

    Climate change is happening whether people believe it or not. Disruption of electrical systems is happening whether politicians deny it or not. The EV revolution is happening, in fact we probably are close to the tipping point. These things are happening before our eyes so politicians can say what they want, they cant turn the tide back. Will the disruptions save us from calamitous climate change, not likely, we need to do a hell of a lot more in other areas. So for me, i stopped preaching about solar power a couple of years back, people are voting with their pockets so that tipping point has started. Lets not get side tracked by conservative indulgences, they want a debate but we should ignore them and move on to the next stage. I think we need to fight other battles, not the ones that are won. You just cant win over futckwits in the murdoch theatre by being a fuckwit too, they will beat you with experience.

  6. Canguro

    For want of finding the best parking spot for these comments, I’ll pull up here and let rip.

    Having just watched the three episode documentary, House of Hammer (2022), dealing with the travails of the perverted sex-pest Armie Hammer and his predecessors, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, I’m a bit blown away but in another sense entirely unsurprised.

    Armand Hammer, the great-grandfather of the actor Armie, currently under a cloud of accusations due to his perverted sexual appetites and serial abuse of many women, was the CEO of Occidental Petroleum and one of the wealthiest oligarchs within the USA’s family of obscenely rich business people. He was also a paranoid & obsessive micro-manager of other peoples’ lives, a corrupt individual who used bribery as a common tactic to achieve his aims, a serial indulger in sexual relationships outside of his marriage, a backdoor cooperator with the USSR and their political hierarchy, a secret funder of Nixon’s Watergate scandal, and a soul-less user and abuser of anyone with whom he had dealings.

    When his off-shore oil rig Piper Alpha blew up in 1988 with the death of 165 men, he celebrated that he was supported by Prince Charles in the PR blitz to deflect blame from the management, stating that ‘it’s time to break out the champagne and caviar’. That support from the bonny prince was itself a function of his having channeled $40 million to the prince’s ‘charity’, a gift that Charles publicly gloated over in a stateside welcome. He showed no skerrick of sympathy or concern for those killed or injured.

    So, in summary, here we have a ripe example of the pathological nature of extreme wealth and its willingness to act in ways that the majority of us would understand to be beyond the bounds of natural and normal humanity. Behaviour that cheats, bribes, coerces, threatens, is perverse, sick, dangerous, inhumane. Behaviour that the newly-minted King Charles III was happy to endorse and benefit from. God (or Dog, take your pick) save us from ever falling into these evil ways. And let it be noted, Armand Hammer is not an isolated example of the wretchedness of accumulating massive wealth at the expense of one’s fellow humans.

  7. Fred

    The planet has approximately 7.6 billion people (increasing) and 1.4 billion cars with a working life of around 12-15 years. If the only vehicle type available for purchase was an EV, then in theory it would only take about 12-15 years to convert, except…

    The world needs to produce 93+ million EVs per annum or 440 times Volkswagen’s production. Approximately 100,000 metric tons of lithium was mined in 2021 with 20 million metric tons total world reserves. Given around 9 kg of lithium is required per EV… well… “Houston we have a problem!” – the amount mined annually could be used to produce 11.1 million EVs an eighth of what is required.

    BTW The total world reserves could make 2.2+ billion EVs so going forward recycling the lithium will be paramount. You can imagine the price is going to rise.

  8. Sydneybound

    EVs are not going to save the planet. Not only is lithium in short supply, it’s uneconomical to recycle, plus it’s problematic in terms of pollution. What is going to happen in a few years when the petrol bowsers are either shut or under rationing conditions? No new petrol vehicles after 2025? Contemplate that. Don’t worry, WEF’s Klaus Schwab was upfront about the solution to the West’s over-indulgence in material and energy wastage, ie. “you will own nothing, and be happy”. You will own nothing and be expected to rent everything, for a unmentionable price of course, from you know who. It’d help to survey the whole energy landscape, from extraction through to manufacture of the final product, value of recycling, cost of pollution then multiply that by the relative carbon footprint for a given nation. Aussies have a massive carbon footprint, and I’m sorry to be the bearer of news many will not want to hear, but our current lifestyles will crash to earth under the net zero mandates. Maybe we could grow up and have an adult conversation about our current carbon footprint and the activities causing it.

  9. Canguro

    UN projection on population growth of humans is 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100.

    Global temperatures projected to warm by about 1.5 degrees C by 2050 and 2-4 degrees C by 2100.

    With the Anthropocene moving from simmer to slow roil and inevitably to rapid boil, we’re yet to experience the full nature of what’s to be unleashed, but rest assured it won’t be a picnic. Expect a massive upswing in climatic extremes; cyclones, rain events, droughts, deglaciation, water surges & floods, firestorms, massive methane leakages as permafrost regions thaw, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf seabed warms and fractures, and the methane clathrates sublimate and release gigatonnes of CH4 into the atmosphere.

    Expect massive and unprecedented (within the human experience) dieoffs of large swathes of the planet’s ecosystems; flora, fauna – mammalian, insectivorous, piscine and other aqueous life-forms as a function of untenable warming and acidification of marine environments, expect tippping-point failures at many levels of the complex social human-built ecosystems; food-chains, transport systems, employment regimes, housing tenability, locality livability, and more.

    Expect dozens if not hundreds of coastal communities planet-wide to become uninhabitable.

    Expect all this and more. The social stresses are unimaginable, but a quick reflection on Pakistan’s current circumstances is indicative. Or Ukraine’s.

    Meanwhile, let’s just go about our lives as if everything is normal and hunky-dory; let’s bother & busy ourselves with arguing over political dickheads and other blind mice, over media shenanigans, racism, sexual discrimination and other dilemmas de jour. Let’ s not look too far into the future… far too scary.

    A story in yesterday’s Guardian; a woman who survived the Bali bombing recounting how she cradled a young man whose leg had been blown off, how he asked her before he died in her arms to tell his parents that he loved them.

    There’ll be a lot more of that before we’re through. EV’s and renewables are all well and good, but the genie has already slipped its confines and is on the loose.

  10. Phil Pryor

    Fred, much there is true and relevant. In fact, the population today is over 7.9 billion and we are weeks away from the 8 bill. serious mark. For a decade, population has gone up a Germany, and the people everywhere are aware of goods, have phones, computers, some transport, food ambitions, some housing, and they want more and better just like, say, a Germany, What resources, consumption, waste and pollution comes from Germany? What fossil fuel input is there in lithium and other related mining? Apart from cars, what pollution is derived from the big ships, big planes, big diesel locos and trucks? My modest old Corolla usage is very small, and no alternative is affordable or feasible .

  11. RoadKillCafe

    Oh, you put our predicament so gently, so diplomatically, Canguro, where as I am tempted to say the quiet bits out loud. What do I think was the question. I think we are an absolutely fucked up delusional pack of fucking braindead arseholes, so good at look over there moments, the occasional dead cat on the table moments, so good at diverting our limited attention spans, so good at creating fear and loathing, so good at subjugating us.
    Do I give a rats arse on the death of fossil fuels, the uptake of EVs? No i fucking well don’t. It is far too late for mine, far too late to change this road to mass extinction. If we were to stop right now, completely, according to some, it would still be far too late.
    But, hey, let’s find some more bullshit subjects, have our “intelligent” discussions, present our considered opinions, walk away feeling complete, done my bit, just posted you beaut article, just posted really intelligent comment, show my concern, my green credentials. Fuck me.
    A fucking tragedy. The young and the ones yet to come will live the reality of our monstrous fuckup, as will we. We deserve no better.

  12. RoadKillCafe

    Surprised to see the above bullshit still exists. Well done, 2353NM, it would appear you aren’t as thin skinned as old mate Rossleigh, he deletes my unflattering comments, though does send self serving email explaining why, in a slightly juvenile fashion, but, there you go, different strokes for different folks. Perhaps, NM, you might elucidate the why of this article. Yes, I know, I’m choosing to be an arsehole, but, hey, what else can be done? Long day, hard life, got to get the shit off the liver somehow. After all, it is all a fart in a hurricane, you understand, fart, hurricane, who gives a fuck, hurricane happening. Bonjour dudes.

  13. Fred

    PP: The process of extracting lithium is very polluting and requires large amounts of water. In terms of energy input required to make 1 kWh of L-ion battery there appears to be a wide range (32 to 150 times in vs out) for which I have yet to find the reason (energy density, total energy, chemistry, manu technology, etc.). The point I was eluding to is that EVs reliant on lithium will not solve the world’s problems, so other technologies are required. Green hydrogen with fuel cells has potential but has a long way to go in terms of commercialisation so I cannot see us meeting reduction targets (sorry ’bout the bad news).

    As an aside, saw a show about geology and mused on the layer being deposited now comprising mobile phones, plastic, bushfire ash, etc. to be dug up by the next intelligent life-form in a few million years after we wipe ourselves out.

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