In a belated attempt to look like he cares, ScottyFromMarketing has latched onto a new line to justify his government’s abrogation of its duty to take urgent action to protect us from the ravages of global heating.
SFM can’t commit to adequate targets for emissions reduction because he “can’t look Australians in the eye and tell them what it will mean for their electricity prices, what it will mean for their jobs.”
He won’t even entertain a goal of net zero emissions in thirty years’ time unless someone can tell him exactly how much that would cost, what electricity prices will be three decades into the future, and provide a guarantee that, unlike workers in the auto industry or tens of thousand of public servants who have lost their jobs under the Coalition’s stewardship, coal miners’ jobs will be protected in an industry that has already slashed its workforce and announced its intention to become fully automated.
Considering Treasury has not made an accurate prediction about anything in living memory, it is a ridiculous demand.
But SFM insists he has a plan – technology!
Well, yeah….but we may need a little more detail than that Scotty.
The media is saying that “The coalition is expected to release a new technology road map charting the way forward in hydrogen, solar, batteries, transmission, large-scale energy storage and carbon capture.” This appears to be based on hopeful speculation rather than anything concrete.
The head of the Investor Group on Climate Change – which manages more than $2 trillion worth of assets – agreed that “technology development and deployment is critical” and said its members were “crying out” for investments in zero carbon opportunities and climate resilience measures in Australia.
“But to attract investment the credibility test is whether technology planning is embedded in a long-term strategy consistent with a smooth transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. The lack of large-scale deals and policy instability remain critical barriers to opening up multi-billion-dollar investment in new industries, jobs and technologies across our country.”
It seems investors are not impressed with slogans and glossy brochures. It is the government’s own lack of genuine policy and commitment that is costing this country investment and the jobs that would come with it, not to mention saving the planet as an added bonus.
How can they trust that the government wants to back new technology when, in their first budget, they cut $459.3m over three years from the carbon capture and storage flagship program, leaving $191.7m to continue existing projects for the next seven years.
Tony Abbott said at the time: “For now and for the foreseeable future, the foundation of Australia’s energy needs will be coal. The foundation of the world’s energy needs will be coal.”
When Matt Canavan attended an energy conference in Houston in 2018, he mocked the world’s largest lithium battery that had been built in SA by Elon Musk to provide storage for renewable energy.
“It’s the Kim Kardashian of the energy world: it’s famous for being famous. It really doesn’t do very much.”
Matt’s always great with his disparaging one-liners. It would be even better if he looked at the evidence occasionally.
The AEMO said in October 2018 that the battery’s performance was “very encouraging”. It:
- Made $13 million in revenue during first six months of operation.
- Saved SA Government $33 million by stabilising the grid super-fast.
- Helped prevent SA blackouts during peak demand.
- Led to 57% drop in Frequency Control Ancillary Services costs.
When Labor announced a 50 per cent renewable energy target for 2030, the government described it as “reckless” and an “economy wrecker.”
Angus Taylor even went so far as saying that that level of renewables would “de-industrialse the economy”. Now, it turns out, Taylor is relying on Australia reaching 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 to deliver the only physical cut in emissions that he expects to achieve in the next 10 years.
From the government’s 2019 emissions projection report:
“Emissions are projected to decline to 511 Mt CO2 -e in 2030 which is 16 per cent below 2005 levels. This is driven mainly by declines in the electricity sector because of strong uptake of rooftop solar and the inclusion of the Victoria, Queensland and Northern Territory 50 per cent renewable energy targets.”
Even when they try to do something that may be worthwhile, like the second interconnector between Tasmania and Victoria, policy inconsistency makes the viability uncertain and scares off private investment. The huge cost is not justifiable until some of the coal fleet retires and, even then, that gap in supply might be filled by more economical means on the mainland.
So whilst the government continues to talk about extending the life of aging coal-fired power plants, or opening new ones, large capital investment is unlikely.
There is a lot of hype lately, mainly driven by Alan Finkel, about increasing gas supply as a “transition” fuel and about hydrogen as the industry of the future, but not all agree that this is the right direction.
As Ronald Brakels explains, “if other options cost less and are more energy efficient than expanding natural gas generation or making hydrogen, then those two things aren’t likely to happen.”
Investors aren’t buying SFM’s latest ad campaign and neither should we.
History shows us that a Coalition government is incapable of dealing with the future of energy and emissions reduction. Until we get rid of them, we will be stuck gazing into the rear view mirror and listening to a bunch of crap from fools who, by their own admission, do not rely on evidence.
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