One only has to look at who our government employs to advise them to get an understanding of how little they actually want advice.
Appointing Grant King to head a panel on how to reduce emissions was a joke.
He was Managing Director of Origin Energy Limited from February 2000 until his retirement in October 2016. He was formerly General Manager, AGL Gas Companies. He is former Chairman of Contact Energy Limited, Oil Company of Australia and the Energy Supply Association of Australia (esaa). He is a former Director of Envestra Limited and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Limited (APPEA).
So it was hardly surprising when King recommended that the government should change the investment mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to fund coal and gas related projects.
Carbon capture and storage is the go, says King, despite all the money that has been wasted on this prohibitively expensive and universally unsuccessful technology which is purely a fig leaf for a dying fossil fuel industry. It would be much simpler, cheaper and safer to simply leave the coal in the ground.
And the idea that gas is the answer is equally ludicrous. The biggest driver of increasing emissions in Australia for the last several years has been the ramping up of LNG production.
Climate Analytics found that between 2015 and 2020 the emissions growth from LNG will effectively wipe out the carbon pollution avoided through the 23% renewable energy target.
It was estimated that LNG projects will emit roughly the same amount as 12m cars this year.
In July 2018, King wrote an article for the Whitsunday Times lauding the wealth brought by our fossil fuels and perpetuating the myth that our ‘slightly less dirty’ fuels will reduce world emissions.
“Our coal and natural gas are some of the most carbon efficient in the world and continuing to make them available to the world makes both economic sense for Australia and contributes to improved carbon efficiency in other countries less blessed with the energy resources we have available to us.
There were some who were opposed to the development of the LNG industry in Queensland, but industry, government and the community worked together to create this new industry for Queensland.
This same model of cooperation must be used again to make sure Queensland does its bit to ensure Australia continues to remain an energy superpower.”
Never ask advice from someone unless you are sure they will tell you what you want to hear.
King was also appointed as a Director of the infamous Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Mr King, who votes on funding decisions, has spoken out in support of further development of gas exports at Gladstone port and has said the contentious Adani coal mine proposal would serve the “greater global good”.
Foundation chairman John Schubert told a Senate hearing that the foundation focused on “local actions” to help the reef adapt to climate change and “does not take a position on various policies related to energy or individual company developments.”
Equally unsurprisingly, we have Nev Power, former head of “Twiggy” Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group who now chairs the National COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission, appointed to tell us that cheap gas will be key to Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery. He wants increased production and the construction of new infrastructure, such as pipelines, and also to move energy-intensive manufacturing to his home state of WA.
Last September, Power had already described the west-east pipeline as “a permanent and low-cost, long-term solution”. He also happens to be on the board of Strike Energy, a junior gasfield developer that is seeking to develop the large West Erregulla find north of Perth.
WA seems to do very well out of Mr Power’s advice.
Of the 12 projects shortlisted by the government under its pre-pandemic policy to underwrite reliable generation, five are gas projects and one is coal. We know the government, run by the Minerals Council, wants to prolong the life of dirty old unreliable coal-fired power stations and even pay for new ones to be built. And they have resisted every international call to cease fossil fuel subsidies.
We now have Angus Taylor looking to change the rules of the CEFC and ARENA to further prop up fossil fuels. And his ‘hand-picked for previously expressed views’ advisers are giving a veneer of consultation to what is a full-court press to prolong the ‘climate destruction for profit’ policies of Coalition donors.
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