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Why ScottyFromMarketing’s latest sales pitch is such a farce

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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23 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    “Technology”; I am surprised that Smirkie can spell the word, let alone understand that it means without R&D there is no future for our country. Yet the Smirkie Sacked from Marketing COALition misgovernment still persist in working towards a 19th century future where there is a two class society of “Haves” and “Have nots”, where wealth maldistribution is almost guaranteed by government non-policies, and Australia becomes the worst third world export economy in the OECD.

  2. Kaye Lee

    Technology Coalition style….

    “Do we really want to invest $50 billion of hard earned taxpayers money in what is essentially a video entertainment system?”

    “As far as I’m concerned it is far more important to get the Pacific Highway duplicated ….I’ve got to say to the government in all candour that it would be so much easier to do this if they weren’t wasting money on the greatest white elephant this country has ever seen, the National Broadband Network.”

  3. Kaye Lee

    Technology Coalition style….

    “Australia now spends 1.88 per cent of GDP on research and development, well below the OECD average of 2.38 per cent. And for the first time since records have been kept, OECD figures show that Australia’s business R&D declined in 2015-16.”

    Professor Beth Webster, director of the Centre for Transformative Innovation at Swinburne University, said political interference needs to be cut out of research funding by creating durable research organisations.

    “We need to have a more stable platform for these things, rather than just having it highly political and depending on the minister for their ongoing funding,” she said.

    “[Politicians] want to put their mark on things rather than be a custodian of a good [R&D] program.”

    Research and development (R&D) spending by federal government organisations shrank $118 million or 5 per cent in 2016-17, with more than 400 staff cut

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/worrying-trend-in-australian-research-and-development-20180705-p4zpnh.html

    The Productivity Commission in June identified R&D as one of the key reasons for Australia’s “mediocre” productivity levels, which have dropped from 2.2 per cent average annual growth between 1974 and 2017 to 0.4 per cent in 2017-18.

    Australia fell from 114 to 107 in 2017-18, according to an OECD index of R&D investment by government. The figure, which measures output per hour worked, has been driven by a lack of investment in new technology, while ongoing uncertainty over government investment has undermined business confidence, according to businesses such as AirTasker.

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/not-a-good-sign-australia-s-r-and-d-investment-slips-against-developed-peers-20190826-p52kvd.html

  4. Win Jeavons

    History has shown us that a Coalition government is incapable of dealing with the future. End of story.

  5. Kaye Lee

    That’s because they like things just how they are Win. I presume we keep giving Rupert money so the Coalition MPs can protect the jobs of people at the Telegraph and the Australian so they can still keep reading their ‘newspapers’ in 2050.

  6. Matters Not

    It’s really not enough to win the policy debate (necessary as that might be), the argument that must be won is at the political level. The current arrangements where citizens actively participate only once every three years is simply not taking democracy seriously. A Professor of Business Policy who lauds the Sanders’ ‘political movement’. Certainly worth a listen even if just for the statistics he presents.

    The Scandinavian nations of Norway, Sweden and Denmark are admired around the world for the quality of their social democracies, equality and progressive politics. But Professor of Business Policy, Paul Adler, argues that even this model is not adequate to face and solve the great crises facing our world today. His answer is democratic socialism.

    https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYWJjLm5ldC5hdS9yYWRpb25hdGlvbmFsL3Byb2dyYW1zL2xhdGVuaWdodGxpdmUvZmVlZC8yODkwNjUyL3BvZGNhc3QueG1s&episode=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYWJjLm5ldC5hdS9yYWRpb25hdGlvbmFsL3Byb2dyYW1zL2xhdGVuaWdodGxpdmUvdGhlLTk5LWVjb25vbXkvMTE5NzcxMzQ&hl=en-AU&ved=2ahUKEwiC17KrvtznAhUXOisKHeQfDb4QjrkEegQICxAG&ep=6

  7. Ken

    With SFM as PM things are only get a lot worse before than get better.

  8. whatever

    Well, the Policy is not really about DOING anything. It is just about answering any question about ClimateChange/EmissionsReduction with a bamboozling tirade about recycling and plastic waste and anything else they can think of that sounds like they are actually concerned about the environment.
    If a reporter persists with questions about ClimateChange/EmissionsReduction they will just be met with the “Hey, you just want to destroy the economy!” line.

  9. ajogrady

    We have the highest paid politicians in the world and yet we still end up with corrupt and criminal monkeys.

  10. Kaye Lee

    The best way to hit a net zero target would have been to stop building coal-fired power stations, coalmines and gas fields 20 years ago. But the second best way is to stop building them today, to boost our renewable energy targets today, and to introduce energy efficiency standards for buildings and vehicles today. We’ve got 30 years to solve the hard problems, but no time to avoid the easy solutions.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/19/putting-the-net-into-net-zero-targets-its-time-to-start-doing-things-that-work-now

    ajogrady,

    Ted Mack said “There is certainly no evidence that the massive increases of salary packages in recent years has increased benefits to the public or improved the quality of members or ministers compared to governments of the past. Far from paying peanuts and getting monkeys, paying more peanuts seems to attract gorillas.”

  11. guest

    Germany’s black coal – gone. Germany’s brown coal – gone by 2038.

    Germany’s car manufacturing – no internal combustion engines after 2030.

    UK’s petrol, diesel, gas cars – not for sale after 2035.

    China – world’s leading country in electricity production from renewable energy sources (with 2X production of the USA) – hydroelectric and wind power – renewable energy growing faster than fossil fuels and nuclear – in 2015, became the world’s largest producer of photovoltaic power (Wikipedia)

    India – the share of non-fossil fuel generation capacity will reach 60-65% in 2030, corresponding to a 40-43% share of electricity generation – emission intensity in 2030 will be ~50% below 2005 levels – investment in renewable power topped fossil fuels for the first time in 2017 – since 2010 has doubled the coal tax three times – the tax is effectively a carbon tax – generated USD 12 billion, however subsidies to coal amounted to USD 2.3 billion in 2016 – removing subsidies for coal (and other fossil fuels) is an essential step to ensure effectiveness of the levied tax (climateactiontracker.org)

    What exactly is the Coalition’s action plan on Climate Change?
    How much will it cost?
    When will it start really?
    Why are they so far behind?

    Meawhile the Coalition bleats about any action at all, or claims they are doing their bit – and complains that reducing fossil fuels will “export jobs from Australia” because they cannot think of any other jobs but extracting fossil fuels.

    Meanwhile, Murdoch media spreads fatuous nonsense in order to protect Rupert’s fossil fuel investments such as Genie Energy’s explorations in the Golan Heights stolen from Syria by Israel.

    And here in Oz business and the states are going ahead without the Feds.

  12. Kronomex

    “Technology”? are you sure he didn’t mean “Dogology”? Dogology will save us from climate change and all it involves is praying all day and everyday for dog to deliver unto us a complete climate transfusion. And while dog is at it how about a never ending supply of coal and gas and oil and gold, hell (that’s were cat rules) magic up a device that steals all the minerals, etc. from another planet and magics them here to fill up all the empty pits and mines and oil fields, etc. Better yet the device does all the hard work on the planet it’s stealing from and then magics the finished products to Gina and Twiggy, and BHP, and other corporationsetc. Just think of all that nasty pollution that won’t be created here.Who cares about some unknown world thousands, if not millions, of light-years away full of life, and if they don’t believe in dog then tough shit because dog only CARES about us because we said he does.

  13. Harry Lime

    Kronomex,what the fuck? Can’t argue with that,it’s locked in tight.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Asked whether he supported Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal project given Labor’s equivocations during last year’s election, Albanese said the proposal had now been approved. “It’s a good thing those jobs have been created. I support jobs regardless of where they are.”

    What jobs Albo?

    I despair.

  15. Matters Not

    On The Drum tonight it was alleged that India will only allow the use of domestic coal after 2024(? year uncertain). So much for our future exports to that destination. Also interesting historical insights re arguments/debates and how emotion is crucial in the winning and/or losing of same. Noticed also that Parnell uses another moniker of late. Always intellectually flexible and good for a laugh.

    https://iview.abc.net.au/show/drum

  16. Kaye Lee

    I can’t watch the show at the moment (people sleeping) but Parnell is just silly. She must be related to someone to keep getting a gig on the Drum. I have NEVER heard her say anything remotely worth listening to.

  17. Matters Not

    KL, Parnell is there for balance apparently and for me at least – some comedic relief.

    Kl, there’s always a spot for a ‘known’ contrarian. Bolt, Donnely et al know that.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Ahhhh,,,this may explain why Parnell always seems so lacking in forethought or conviction….

    Padraic Pearse “Paddy” McGuinness AO , her father, was an Australian journalist, activist, and commentator. He was notable for the evolution over his lifetime of his political beliefs. Beginning his career on the far left, he subsequently worked as a policy assistant to the more moderate Labor parliamentarian Bill Hayden. Later he found fame as a right-wing contrarian and finished his career as the editor of the conservative journal, Quadrant.

    Keating described him as “a fraud and a liar” and “a bloated cane toad” and predicted that “the quality of the Australian press will rise simply because his vituperation and contumely will have been excised from it.”

  19. johno

    Thought the drum was okay last night and yeah, the revelation that India will stop coal imports was a clanger, Abul did say it would need to be fact checked. Parnell was hopeless.

  20. guest

    Kaye,

    the take away message here is that countries Oz has demonised over emissions are doing far more than we are told in this country. They are working on the problem because they are aware of the problems of burning fossil fuels. But here in Oz we have people in power who fondle coal in Parliament, say how much they are doing to abate emissions when they are doing little, and support fossil fuel extraction at a time coal jobs are falling in Oz and renewables are becoming cheaper. Meanwhile, all Morrison can do is ask what is the cost of zero carbon emissions by 2050. If he does not know, we won’t reach it under a Coalition government. Nor does he want to even consider the cost of not acting on Climate Change . He is one of those who wants to know the cost of everything, but knows the value of nothing. We cannot afford this man.

  21. corvusboreus

    Thanks boobby.

  22. Kaye Lee

    guest,

    India are doing well but China and the US really need to do better. The world is aware of our lies and inadequate policies. It’s humiliating, particularly when they say we are a small emitter so it doesn’t count. The examples to ridicule that attitude are endless.

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