Lately in coal markets around the world, there has been an increase of exposure of cases where the industry has found compliant partners happy to rort the system of energy generation for personal gain. Usually folk with ties to government. It’s not that there is any more corruption than usual, just that the economics of coal no longer make it a viable product, so new deals get examined more closely, and exposure is more likely. This has led to cancelled supply contracts, cancelled financial support for projects, and plenty of court time
There is no greater example of how dire the situation is for coal than the US. Even with Trump making positive comments and wildly ridiculous claims, the fact of the situation is the product is no longer economic, less employment is on offer, and financiers are not prepared to stump up capital on such a high risk venture. Even with Trump urging them to do so.
In this recent South African case we see yet another example of corruption between government connected people and the coal Industry. Trying to prop up a dying industry requires desperate measures and the hunt is on for pollies open to “incentives” to promote their product.
Australia finds itself in exactly this position and personally, I want to see a Federal ICAC in place to deal with the growing influence being exerted by the Coal industry because things are only going to get worse. Clearly the product is already too expensive and smoke appears to be seeping out from under under the door leading to the Coalition Party Room. I’m sure there’s a fire in there somewhere.
The sooner the ICAC is established, the sooner we can start investigating individuals, and the less damage we suffer economically, not withstanding the usual Morrison claims like “we don’t need a banking inquiry”. We already have a problem just looking at Morrison himself and his public display of affection for a lump of coal in the House, and it’s only going to get more shrill as the death throws continue.
We may not be able to incarcerate the offenders, but we can remove them from the public purse, and perhaps we can limit their ill gotten gains if we act quickly. Once we remove these road blocks, we can get on with transitioning to our new low carbon economy and stop dragging it out for as long as possible.
Back in the days of Tony Abbott, dragging things out on energy matters was a profitable political advantage, but times have changed. Instead of it simply being an environmental matter, it’s now an economic and environmental matter, and it’s destroying the party without them noticing the discussion has moved forward.
This article was originally published on Advances in Renewables.
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