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Technology road map or a lifeline for coal?

All of a sudden, the government has discovered “technology” – they just don’t know what to do with it.

No doubt, we will get another glossy brochure with no research to back it up, no comparative analyses of different approaches or relative cost/benefit, no risk analysis or management.

Because this government doesn’t really believe in it as shown by their track record.

Total R&D expenditure is at its lowest level since 2005-06 and business R&D expenditure is lower than at any time since 2002-03.

ABS figures show that Australia’s gross expenditure on research and development fell to 1.79% of GDP in 2017-18, down from 1.88% in 2015-16. This compares with an OECD average of 2.37% for developed nations. Business expenditure on R&D fell from one per cent of GDP to 0.9% over the two-year period, while the OECD average was 1.49%.

Government investment in R&D in 2011-12 was $10.072 billion. Despite our continually growing GDP, in 2018-19 it was $9.396 billion.

R&D tax incentives in 2011-12 were $1.07 billion. In 2019-20 they are estimated to be $280 million.

Aside from cutting funding and incentives, instead of letting the research and market decide where technology should go, this government has shown its penchant for picking winners, usually based on political rather than practical considerations.

And as per usual, this tactic comes directly from the Republican playbook.

In a New York Times opinion piece, Republican Sen. John Barrasso wrote:

“The nation is leading the way not because of punishing regulations, restrictive laws or carbon taxes but because of innovation and advanced technology, especially in the energy sector,” he wrote. “Making energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without raising costs to consumers will be accomplished through investment, invention and innovation.”

Enter hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, which may sound like a good idea – or may sound more like a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry.

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel is the main driver behind the hydrogen push and he wants it produced using coal and gas combined with carbon capture and storage. Only 4% of the hydrogen produced globally is made using renewable energy.

A recently published study by the Center for International Environmental Law warned that some technologies, in particular carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies, could slow the transition to renewables.

“CCUS is valuable to the fossil fuel industry in three key ways: it expands oil production, provides a lifeline to a declining coal industry, and further entrenches the overall fossil fuel economy,” the report says. “Incentivizing CCUS through policy and relying on it in planning will likely slow the transition away from fossil fuel investments and undermine broader efforts to mitigate climate change.”

Touting technology and innovation is a tactic being used to sound like you are doing something on climate change while kicking action on reducing emissions down the road. None of the technologies are close to being developed at a scale large enough to have a true impact on global warming, a process that would have to be coordinated among many countries on a vast global scale. We don’t have time to wait.

But hey, at least the fossil fuel industry is happily on board.

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  1. New England Cocky


    Notice that “Total R&D expenditure is at its lowest level since 2005-06 and business R&D expenditure is lower than at any time since 2002-03” when the Liabral Nazianal$ were in government.

    Now look at the contributions s and policies of the Rudd Gillard Labor governments: “[Labor] Government investment in R&D in 2011-12 was $10.072 billion. ….. R&D tax incentives in 2011-12 [Labor] were $1.07 billion. In 2019-20 [Nasty Lazy People misgovernment] they are estimated to be $280 million.”

    More lies about increasing job opportunities from the misgovernment you have when you have nothing to offer the Australian voters.

  2. whatever

    At first this seems like 3rd rate crisis Brand Management, just a put a big sticker on the product that says “New Technology!” and hope that will impress the customers.

    I strongly suspect this new strategy will involve giving large amounts of money to BigCoal so they can pretend to be developing some kind of ‘clean’ energy from the horrible black stuff.

  3. Harry Lime

    This government by theft,engineered by the Liar in Chief could be accurately described as “The hell freezes over” cartel of incompetents,because that’s when they’ll do the right thing by it’s citizens.Dangerously deluded,dishonest to a fault,and led by an individual who has not the slightest regret about being an outrageous,proven liar.
    In this he is consistent.The rats have trapped themselves on a ship that they have themselves sabotaged,and are becoming increasingly desperate,so expect the horrors to escalate.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Regardless of the technology of the future, the inaction of the last decade has made us run out of time. We have to cut emissions NOW and not by accounting tricks like changing base years and using carryover credits and retrospectively changing LULUCF figures to claim greater emissions reduction whilst not counting the emissions from the bushfires and not checking up on the claimed reductions from their silly ERF. Who is going to plant new trees and water them during a drought? And all those people we paid to destock when they were going to anyway due to the drought are going to restock in a big way now. Do we get our money back? Are those claimed emissions reductions wiped off?

    We absolutely need research and development but we can’t sit back and wait.

    This truly is a government of announceables (and reannounceables). Achieving anything? Not so much. Stop the boats and start the planes? Tax cuts that lead into a recession? Axing the carbon tax while delivering higher power prices and an end to emissions reduction?

    Glossy brochures may be great for property and tourism sales pitches but they hardly qualify as governance.

  5. Bronte ALLAN

    Well said, as usual Kaye! Since this bloody useless COALition underfunded the CSIRO & has been at the forefront, NOT!, of introducing new technologies etc (what are they, asks SLOMO!) this country of ours has gone backwards in so many ways it is not funny. Trouble is, unless all their obscenely wealthy Industrialist, Pastoralist, Mining & property development mates etc can make even more millions out of it, & pay no taxes (as usual), they will never be investing in or even be interested in any new technologies or businessess etc. Bastards the lot of them!

  6. David Evans

    Anus Failure is the bigstick of the lot of ’em.

  7. Steve Davis

    One of the reasons they cling to fossil fuels is that these require centralised control of the supply of energy.

    When you control the supply, you control the people.

  8. Kaye Lee

    SCOTT MORRISON: Labor has a goal without a plan
    LEIGH SALES: But you have a plan without a goal

    What Morrison is doing is choosing what technology he will invest in instead of giving private enterprise the certainty of a target and letting research and industry work out the best way to reach it.

  9. Sam

    Perhaps the R&D should be put into inventing a time machine? Punters could travel forward into climate change reality just before they vote.

    Seriously though, this is just so hopeless. I can’t understand how the rest of the country is not as furious about the dodging, lying and cheating committed by our ‘government’ like I am am. An even then when they are furious, what do we get? LNP lite, ‘the labour party’.

    Somebody said to me the other day, we need another choice, apart from the two big parties. Well, yes we do, finally I could agree on something with this person who normally votes for pauline hanson. My Answer, we do have a third party, its the greens, try and look past their irrelevant ideas like legalising marijuana and focus on their more important policies compared to the two big ones and they make a lot of sense. It didnt get an argument like normal, maybe some part of my response actually sank in…, who am i kidding.

  10. Pingback: Technology road map or a lifeline for coal? #auspol - News Oz

  11. calculus witherspoon.

    The country will choke before they let go of it. One of the reasons they have purged AAP, to further stifle information about such things,

  12. Patagonian

    Let me guess…a brown hydrogen industry. It’s as far as their pea-sized brains can stretch to imagine.

  13. johno

    Well said Sam.

  14. Kaye Lee

    The pro-coal Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon will host a cocktail event at Parliament House to discuss carbon capture and storage with industry leaders on Wednesday night.

    The 350 Australia chief executive, Lucy Manne, said the event was an “insidious effort by the fossil fuel lobby to undermine action on the climate crisis”.

    Manne said carbon capture and storage had proven a “pipe dream of the coal and gas lobby” and diverted millions away from proven renewables.

    “It’s outrageous that instead of working out how to rapidly transition to the renewable energy future the vast majority of Australians and businesses want, our elected representatives will tonight be sipping cocktails with the coal lobby and discussing how to extend the life of dirty coal-burning power stations.”

  15. calculus witherspoon.

    Howard was trotting out carbon capture and storage fifteen years ago.

    How much can a polar bear?

  16. Lawrence S. Roberts

    Scotty from marketing is just a Judas Goat. Not the main player.
    Neither is the dirty digger, Rupert.
    Neither is “mudguard” The chief of police. (shiny on top, dirty underneath)
    We have to be agile for the next move.
    Draconian and sweeping powers of the state.
    The A.L.P. is part of the problem, they love the perks.
    We are on our own.l

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