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Tag Archives: Renewable

Climate change is irrelevant

In the argument for investment in renewable energy in Australia, the existence, or non-existence of climate change is irrelevant, writes Warwick O’Neill.

Like most semi-intelligent Australians I accept that all the scientific evidence provides near definitive proof that things aren’t looking real bright for our future generations, unless we invest in renewal energy technologies now. But us semi-intelligent Australians are no longer the ones who need convincing, are we?

Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and the rest of this chamber of horrors masquerading as a Government are the ones who need convincing. But while I think that deep down the majority of them probably do believe the science, they all believe much more in the money flowing into Liberal Party coffers from the likes of Gina, Rupert, and other esteemed members of the IPA. So do we continue doing things the way that we have been ever since these people stole the election, i.e. pleading to their conscience and their desire to leave a clean and sustainable future for our grand kids? Like that’s ever going to work.

As they say, the epitome of stupidity is to continue doing the same thing, in the same way and expecting a different result. We need to stop trying to bash down the front door. We need to stop appealing to their conscience and instead use their enormous egos and greed against them. Let’s stop trying to convince them that climate change is real, and start talking about the only things they care about; economics and legacy.

These people may be able to stick their head in the sand and deny climate change, but there are two unmistakable and unarguable truths which no amount of sand can cover up.

First undeniable truth – our mining resources will run out eventually. Whether it’s in ten years, fifty years or one hundred years, unless their God can miraculously replenish our stocks, we will run out. This will leave Australia with very little to trade and the rest of the world will be quite happy to say “thank you for your contribution to our future” while they wave us goodbye.

Even a government which passes the one collective brain cell around to whoever needs it most can see that this will be an economic disaster. How to avoid it though? By finding another source of income, something else which we can sell to an eager world. It would be hard to argue that Australia, due to its geography, isn’t ideally placed to take advantage of renewable energy production. Heavy investment in this industry could potentially reap enormous financial benefits to Australia. Yes, I know it would buck the trend to have a government in Australia that actually invests in assets rather than selling them off, but humour me.

We all know that solar is a viable source of energy. If solar panels the size of an average house roof can provide sufficient power to run that house, imagine the power output of a 1000 acre solar panel. A few of these strategically positioned and we go a long way towards providing enough power to keep this country ‘rocking and rolling’. Government investment in training could help alleviate the job losses from the mining sector, and these new solar areas could be the future version of today’s “mining towns”.

The Horizontal Waterfalls (source: tripadviser.com.au)

The Horizontal Waterfalls (source: tripadviser.com.au)

Our other advantage is our fifty odd thousand kilometres of coastline. Each inch of this coastline is subject to the one of the truly dependable and predictable sources of energy on this planet – tides. Tidal energy doesn’t dissipate under an overcast sky or when the wind stops blowing. Some areas, such as the “Horizontal Waterfalls” near Broome, have such huge tidal flows that you could imagine, with the right technology in place, potentially provide enough electricity generation to supply the entire top end. And this happens twice a day, every day. But is going largely untapped due to lack of investment.

If any Government properly invested in the research and development and then implemented these technologies, then solar and tidal power could see Australia in a position to provide clean energy at least to the South East Asian region. Our scientists (should we have any left) could no doubt devise efficient and environmentally friendly ways of harnessing this power. The sale of the electricity produced, combined with the manufacture and export of our intellectual property could bring billions of overseas dollars into our economy, easily paying off the initial investment and then adding pure profit well into the future.

The second undeniable truth is that no matter how strenuously Tony Abbott fights against renewal energy, most of the rest of the world, even China, is already making great strides in establishing their own sustainable energy industries. This can mean only one thing for the Australian coal industry – a decrease in the price of coal. The less demand there is, the less it is worth. Economics 1 0 1. So long before coal resources run out, they’re going to be worthless anyway. Failure to start investing now will only mean that the rest of the world will be so much further in front of us when the time comes and we have no other option.

That takes care of the economic angle of attack; now let’s stroke their egos by dangling the carrot of legacy in front of them. Two things any politician who strives for the top echelons of government have in common is a massive ego and a desire to be remembered as one of the giants in history.

Point out to Tony Abbott that he could go down in the annuls of history as the visionary who set up Australia’s economic position in the world for centuries to come, and his ego is sure to be soothed. Actually scrap that. As the “suppository of knowledge” he’d probably think that he’ll be going down in the annals of history as the intellectual giant who scrapped the ‘carbon tax’. Sharp as a marble, our Tony.

But pitch the legacy idea to whoever will be the leader of the LNP once they rid themselves of Tony, and I’m sure they’ll show some interest. Maybe the thought of a gilded statue out the front of Parliament House, honouring their greatness would be enough to overcome the natural desire of most pollies to only look as far ahead as the next election.

Take the whole climate change debate out of the renewable energy argument, and all they are left arguing against is a stronger future economy and their place in history. We could very well get what we wanted in the first place, which is investment in sustainable energy and a brighter, cleaner future. Any military strategist will tell you, if your initial frontal assault fails, change your plan and take them in the flank, where they least expect it.

Abbott’s war on the environment is facing some tough opposition

Big mining may have put the COAL in the Coalition, but Abbott’s war on the environment is facing some tough opposition.

To spite the Climate Change Authority predicting that the scrapping of the carbon tax will lead to a 17% increase in emissions (over 2000 levels) by 2020, the urgency of the climate situation seems totally lost on our government. It appears the LNP would prefer to destroy the CCA, (and every other climate/renewable agency/initiative in the country) rather than heed their sobering warning.

Mean while, back in the real world, those of us who value scientific consensus over the bloated opinions of fox news, corporate toadying shock jocks and all the other wilfully ignorant, vested interest denialists, are rightly concerned.

The science is in, and it’s not looking good. While a certain amount of climate change is now inevitable, we have a small window in which to avoid the CATASTROPHIC consequences of a major climate shift. Almost everyone seems to understand this, except our government.

Let’s face it, the profoundly short term “Après moi le déluge”, attitude of Abbott and his cronies is certainly not the quality of response any one with half a brain would want from those at the helm. That is of course unless you are coal miner, in which case Tony is definitely your man on the inside!

In the run up to last years federal election big mining and energy poured over $1,000,000 in declared donations into LNP coffers, (not that anyone would be so bold as to suggest that may have wielded any influence on Coalition policy). It is however worth noting that the LNP’s largest donor, the Cormack Foundation, is an entity designed to shield the identity of donors,which means that the true figure could actually be much larger, but we would never know.

So … in stark contrast to the rest of the developed world, the coalition is determined to push it’s demonstrably ideological position in favour of coal, and wind back, (rather than ramp up), Australia’s climate action. In series of moves, that could only be described as economically reckless, including the dismantling the PROFITABLE clean energy fund (potentially costing thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in sustainable investment and development), the LNP appear determined to trash the renewable energy industry. While this course seems to defy all logic (especially when one is supposedly managing a “budget emergency”) quick application of Occam’s razor would suggest that the LNP must have been bought and paid for by big mining and energy.

If you look at the coalition’s much ridiculed “direct action” policy, a policy that removes the cost of acquiring carbon credits from big mining and energy and then hands them tax payers money in return for some nebulous promise to behave nicely, it reads like something Energy Australia might have put on their christmas list.

Admittedly with Abbott at the wheel Australia’s environmental landscape appears overwhelmingly bleak, but the outcome is far from a foregone conclusion. The global commitment to acting sensibly is growing fast, with both the US and China moving aggressively to reduce emissions and embrace renewables. Those of us who wish to run along side them should take some heart in the fact that our senate is far from compliant with Tony’s madness, and that it is a long way from policy to legislation.

While we may not hear about it in the Murdoch press there is considerable senate pressure being brought to bear on the government over it’s lunatic climate policies.To wit something rather special happened in parliament recently that I would like to share with you. Amongst all the argy-bargy of the post budget wrangling Greens senator Scott Ludlam, armed with nothing more than intelligent line of questioning, managed to unravel the sad truth behind the LNP’s “direct action” climate policy. Which is, quite counter to all their rhetoric, not even the government expect their direct action policy to actually reduce emissions (in real terms), let alone energy prices in the longer term.

In a stunning display of political acumen Ludlam tore through the LNP’s rhetoric, establishing that not only is the LNP’s direct action policy not expected to reduce emissions, the LNP haven’t actually done the modelling required to give us so much as an estimated reduction in emissions.

While the LNP readily admit “direct action” will cost a lot, about $2 Billion (AU) over the forward estimates (not to mention the revenue lost from abandoning carbon pricing), under Ludlam’s relentless interrogation they were forced to admit that they may even need to “find” a bit more money for the scheme.

It was an eye opening display, and one that warmed my heart. It was a real pleasure to see the quality of interaction elevated above that of school yard cat calling; to actually see intelligent, articulate scrutiny sweep aside the slogans and cut to the heart of the matter. I congratulate Mr Ludlam, and I sincerely hope we may we see many more of his calibre entering politics on all sides!

Is the Coalition driving renewable energy investment overseas?