Energy and climate policy in disarray

On Monday this week energy and climate minister Josh Frydenberg suggested that an emissions intensity trading scheme for the electricity industry to help manage the transition to lower-emissions energy sources might be considered in the context of the Coalition’s reconsideration of climate change policy. A mere 33 hours later Turnbull killed off the option. It looked too much like a carbon tax, and the extreme right of the coalition gave it the thumbs down.

Sean Kelly at The Monthly ripped in:

    And so Turnbull is left looking like a coward. Frydenberg floated looking at something – not actually doing it, just considering it. The right said no thank you. Turnbull ruled it out. We’ve seen this show so many times now.

    And this is the problem – not that Turnbull looks like a coward. The conclusion is hard to avoid: Turnbull looks like a coward because he is a coward.

    Whoever’s idea the bloody thing was, whatever the ins and outs of political management, all that actually happened was a minister said he’d look at something. Some noise from unhappy MPs, and a day or so later the minister was overruled.

    This is the insanely caged place from which Turnbull leads the nation.

Frydenberg then lied, saying he had said no such thing.

Kenny says it’s unclear whether Frydenberg had consulted with Turnbull, and they were flying a kite. The fact is that as soon as the possibility hit the airwaves it was killed off by the climate-denying right-wing, this time led by Cory Bernadi, who went on Sky News to call it “one of the dumbest things I’ve heard in politics in recent times”.

Katherine Murphy was not impressed in her article What an extraordinary, gutless capitulation by Josh Frydenberg:

    Forget the intricacies of the climate policy debate – the government through this botched process has again revealed its true nature to the public.

    Yet again the Turnbull government has shown the voting public that it is a divided, roiling, rudderless, chaotic and gutless political outfit, locked into a cycle of chasing its own tail, jumping nervously at shadows.

Turnbull is now routinely warning about the evils of renewables. Giles Parkinson reports that he fell in line with climate denialists Jo Nova and Andrew Bolt in blaming the SA premire and renewables when a conductor fell off a line in Western Victoria last week interrupting supply.


    On Monday, Frydenberg was making it clear that any change to the renewable energy target – lifting the target or making it longer dated – was not on the agenda. He described it on ABC’s AM program as an expensive way to change the energy mix and cut emissions. “It’s not at the top of our list,” he said.

On Tuesday the CSIRO put out three media releases:

See Giles Parkinson in CSIRO sees $100bn savings in zero carbon grid by 2050 and CSIRO, networks put lie to conservative campaign against wind, solar.

We can do it, and save money at the same time.

    A landmark report finds Australian energy consumers do not have to sacrifice security of supply or affordability to achieve a low emissions future, if action is taken now.

    The two-year analysis by CSIRO and Energy Networks Australia has produced a comprehensive plan to keep the lights on, bills affordable and decarbonise electricity.

    As Australian Governments meet to discuss energy security, the Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap confirms reliable supply can be maintained during Australia’s transition to a more decentralised, clean electricity system. Energy Networks Australia Chief Executive Officer, John Bradley, said Australian families would be better off by $414 per year on average under the Roadmap’s suite of measures.

    “The Roadmap would transform Australia’s electricity system, enabling more choice and control for millions of customers while saving over $100 billion by 2050,” Mr Bradley said.

    “If we act now, the grid will be more secure and resilient, despite high growth in large-scale renewables and two-thirds of small customers taking up solar and storage by 2050.”

Turnbull and Frydenberg, given their grumbling about renewables, cost and energy security, should be shouting the good news from the rooftops.

But they are not. The silence is deafening.

Then word got about that Alan Finkel, the Chief Scientist, commissioned by Frydenberg to review the National Electricity Market, thinks an emissions intensity trading scheme for the electricity industry might be a good idea. He was due to deliver his preliminary report to COAG this Friday.

A copy fell off the truck to Katherine Murphy at The Guardian. Finkel is indeed implicitly recommending such a scheme:

    In a 58-page report that has been circulated before Friday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting between the prime minister and the premiers, Finkel has also given implicit endorsement to an emissions intensity trading scheme for the electricity industry to help manage the transition to lower-emissions energy sources.

    While there is no concrete recommendation to that effect, the report, obtained by Guardian Australia, references the evidence from energy regulators that such a scheme would integrate best “with the electricity market’s pricing and risk management framework” and “had the lowest economic costs and the lowest impact on electricity prices”.

    Finkel also notes advice from the Climate Change Authority which says market mechanisms have the lowest average cost of abatement, and of the options modelled, an emissions intensity scheme “had the lowest impact on average residential electricity prices”. (Emphasis added)

Finkel also pointed out that if you want capitalists to invest in any kind of energy production you must have a climate/energy policy that goes for the life of the investment. That is beyond 2020, and indeed beyond 2030. We have none.

Investment in major electricity power has dried up. Finkel says we are not on track to meet our Paris commitments.

SA Premier Jay Weatherall, suggested that the states should go it alone with emissions intensity trading scheme and was duly mocked by Turnbull as the bloke who couldn’t keep the lights on. Unfortunately Weatherall seems to be the only elected leader (the ACT apart) who is actually thinking in concrete terms about the issue.

Just about everyone in and around the electricity system, and in business generally apart from the fossil fuel industry, appears to favour an emissions intensity trading scheme.

Meanwhile Giles Parkinson keeps beavering of, asking how much storage is needed in solar and wind powered grid?

Not as much as you’d think, it seems, and quite doable.

And then this:

    The role of ageing gas-fired generators may have been part of the problem in the events leading up to the state-wide blackout in South Australia in September, which experts say could have been avoided if the gas generators had been replaced by inverter linked renewables and storage.

The situation is farcical. Turnbull is taking us towards more expensive, less secure electricity provision, while claiming the opposite. We’ve reached post-factual policy making.

37 thoughts on “Energy and climate policy in disarray”

  1. Turnbull is taking us towards more expensive, less secure electricity provision, while claiming the opposite.

    Pretty much an echo of his efforts with the NBN.
    How did anyone so incompetent become so wealthy?

  2. Zoot, BilB – by calamitous act of fate. Right time right place.

    COAG members have a chance to revolt against the feds and it might happen.

    And maybe soon Finkel will be tipped, given that his report does not favour government “policy”. How the Press handles the COAG meeting, Finkel’s implications and the increasingly public disquiet with the standard of governance should be interesting.

    On the cusp of my 70th, I can say that this government is the most incompetent I have lived under. I don’t know who the real Master behind them is but their self-interest is patently un-Australian. I can’t see how this government can keep punching holes in the air and survive – maybe not even to the next election date.

  3. Just let me remind you that the very successful ACT Renewable Energy scheme is not an emission trading scheme and provides low cost utility scale renewable power by avoiding all the costs and that are a feature of emission trading schemes.
    Turnbull made the right decision for the wrong reason and has no plan to drive the transition to 100% renewable electricity.

  4. Perhaps the States will be able to combine, Geoff Henderson, to produce a “six-State solution” which bypasses the Federal Government?

    That still might not provide the long term certainty the reluctant investors are calling for.

    A ‘strike of capital’ is one thing; we seem to have a ‘strike of the Federal Govt.’

    Apparently Mr Weatherill thinks Mr Turnbull might lose his leadership over climate policy again. Aren’t clever people supposed to learn from their own mistakes??

  5. I probably should have done an explainer on what was being proposed. This is as I understand it.

    A baseline of emissions is set, which is lowered over time to reach net zero sometime in the future, for example by 2050.

    Those emitting more than the baseline are charged a levy.

    Those emitting less than the baseline are given a credit for being clean.

    Clean can sell to dirty.

    That’s all, there is no tax, no gain to the public purse. Power producers get the message, clean up or get out.

    As Weatherall says it’s not a carbon tax and is not really an emissions trading scheme as generally understood.

    John, the problem with generalising what the ACT are doing is that the states are responsible for power generation, but they have mostly privatised the power generation system, and signed up to the National Electricity Market. So it is capitalists operating within the market who have to invest to keep the lights on. There is no energy commissar to commission the reverse auctions.

    The ACT can do it because they still have an energy commissar and are not big enough to matter.

    The states could act independently of the Commonwealth, but the NEM is set up under Commonwealth law and they are all signed up to it.

    Anyway, that’s as I see it. I could be wrong.

    BTW, the idea of a baseline and dirty polluters paying is part of Direct Action policy, I believe. There was always a reasonable expectation of bipartisanship on this one.

  6. Geoff, for decades the Nats have been run over by the Libs on almost everything that mattered to them. Now Barnaby is ascendant, and the Nats would be as happy as pigs in mud, if it weren’t for One Nation, Katter et al.

    In this case the climate ‘realists’ as Malcolm Roberts likes to call them are having their say.

    I don’t know whether Christopher Pyne is in their camp, but he’s pretty much nuts.

  7. What’s coming out this morning from the likes of Phillip Coorey and Laurie Oakes is that Turnbull knew what Finkel was proposing, and Weatherall had discussed the emissions intensity trading scheme with Turnbull a month ago.

    The idea was to develop the policy quietly and spring it on the back bench as part of the broader policy. Frydenberg erred by doing pressers at all, or not being completely evasive. His problem is that he answered a straight question honestly, which just shows how naive and incompetent he is in the arts of politics that really matter.

    How they thought they were going to get away with it, given that Finkel was reporting to COAG, is a mystery.

    Oakes says the priority is to bash Labor about high electricity prices, even if you have to tell lies, rather than good policy. Abbott showed the way with the carbon tax and the ‘great big tax on everything’.

    Finkel says he just hopes that people commenting on his report read it first.

  8. BTW the emissions intensity trading scheme was favoured by the The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and all the peak industry groups. It seems to fit in with the way the capitalist class operates.

    I believe it’s basically the same scheme as economist Danny Price developed for Malcolm Turnbull back in 2009, and was part of Labor’s election policy, both reasons why Turnbull is a bit allergic to it now.

  9. Ambigulous it does seem some of the States are prepared to go their own way. Fair enough given the Federal attitude.

    Brian i think it is more than pay-back time between the Libs and Country party. There has been a huge degradation of Australian politics since Menzies and bipartisanship is all but gone. I can accept that accepted Policy can be less than “best” because of sensible compromise. But now good policy is mindlessly (automatically?) blocked – witness Turnbull’s attitude towards Labor’s intensity scheme mentioned above. National interest seems to be a far lesser priority.

  10. Geoff, I wouldn’t think of it so much as pay-back. The Nats are getting their way, and I’m sure they love it!

    BTW I hope everyone saw the 7.30 Report:


    By far the biggest stoush predictably was energy and it continued in the full glare of the media.

    JAY WEATHERILL: The Prime Minister himself, before he ascended to this role, said these words, “Mature evidence-based policy, communicated to voters through sophisticated explanation, rather than infantile slogans would be the mark of his leadership.”

    That’s simply all we’re asking for here.

    MALCOLM TURNBULL: Our policy is very clear. We do not support a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. That’s our policy.

    JAY WEATHERILL: We’re not proposing a carbon tax. It’s mischievous to suggest we are and it’s also mischievous to suggest that we’re proposing an emissions trading scheme because that wasn’t the proposition that was put here.

    Visually it was a classic. Weatherall was poker-faced, knew his proposal was going down, and was going to make it as uncomfortable as possible for Turnbull.

    Malcolm’s face was grumpy and screwed, and the camera showed his fingers tapping away impatiently.

  11. BTW I hope everyone saw the 7.30 Report:

    A prime example of why public broadcasters bias has seen their credibility in shreds.
    Shameless agenda hit piece.

  12. Gee, Jumpy, public access to discussions between national leaders talking government policy is seen by Libertarians as (paraphrased) “a shameless distortion of reality”?

    I really don’t know what to say to that, in civil terms.

  13. BilB, Wikipedia defines Post-truth politics as

    .. a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of “secondary” importance.

    Hence if you feel that the ABC has a “shameless agenda” then that is a legitimate fact and truth in it self from such point of view. No evidence, no contest, no argument , it is just so … unless it is cleverly used to divert talking point and broader discussion and seed the ground with more partisanship and disunity or worse I’d argue, anarchy.

  14. It really is tribal politics, when a party is so divided, so contradicting itself on so many levels and has no regards for the energy future of the nation nor safety and security of it’s future generation. I ask you who has uttered these words:

    If you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax?

    Why not ask electricity consumers to pay more, then at the end of the year you can take your invoices to the Tax Office and get a rebate?

    It would be burdensome — all taxes are burdensome — but it would certainly … raise the price of carbon without increasing in any way the overall tax burden.

    Well, it is the person who recently described Turnbull as

    “growing into the role of prime minister”, saying he was “now governing as an entirely orthodox centre-right” prime minister.

    It looks to me like someones ‘blood oath’ makes exciting politics for the emotional voters. Yet it has given us several blood lettings in terms of political leaders and left our Nation anaemic in terms of energy and economy. No problem just blame useless Labor, the bloody greens, elitist media with left wing bias, yada yada yada yada ….

  15. More reporting from left wing biased elitist media:

    The Australian Energy Council and Energy Networks Australia said without change, customers face higher prices and an increasingly unstable electricity supply.

    “For the last decade we’ve had ongoing, policy uncertainty about [an] electricity industry push for a carbon price to aid transition to clean energy system, and what that’s meant is businesses trying to borrow and invest to rebuild and build the grid have been really constrained,” the Council’s chief executive Matthew Warren said.

    “After a decade things are beginning to get critical and we can no longer keep waiting to make the investments we need to keep the system working efficiently.”
    The council said it still supported a market-based measure, like an emissions intensity scheme for the electricity sector or an economy wide carbon price, despite the Prime Minister’s decision to explicitly rule both out this week.

    “We certainly think the 2017 review of climate policy remains a great opportunity to reset where we are in Australia,” Mr Warren said.

    “We do have a lot more change to make than other parts of the world, and we do need to design policy to fit, but that doesn’t stop us getting on with that process.

    Does that make the The Australian Energy Council and Energy Networks Australia an elitist lefty, reds under the bed and bloody tree hugging organisation? Where is retail politician Barnaby Joyce and king maker Cory Bernardi with their outrage against such heresy within the power industry leadership.

  16. Hi Ootz,

    I hear what you are saying, and to discuss this effectively would take the rest of the week because there are so many perspectives one could take.

    My first thoughts were that people should state the conversation “standard” to be used in an exchange. An attempt at this is the “hats” standard where one would say” wearing my Ministers hat I say this, but wearing my parent at home hat I say…”. That approach, however, presupposes that one wants to actually be understood.

    That brings up the notion of the purpose of communication. The post truth concept reflects the realsastion that people are not always honest as we presumed them to be…politically. but now to the extent that some people are never honest at all. Words are used for so many purposes and in so many ways that I am not going to attempt to analyse that aspect here.

    What I am going to suggest is that we now need to look a the nature of the people we are dealing with and judge the nature of the discourse underway based on that.

    A little while ago I determined that we all operate within a personal empathy field, and all empathy field possibilities exist in community in an empathy spectrum that ranges from the hyper empathetic (look it up) ( the political left) all the way through to the zero empathathetic psychopaths (the political right), and every combination in between(the greens are highly empathetic while the Libertarians are softish sociopaths). My new politcal theory is that that it is our empathies that drive our political positioning by impacting our cognitions ( our personal interpretation of what we see and hear and say).

    The theory goes on to view our political field as a family. When a couple come together to form a relationship and build a family (community) the woman (high empathy) and the man (low empath – don’t confuse lust with kindness) adjust their peronalities to accommodate their desire to co exist building a life together and create the environment for new life to flourish. When this goes wrong the parties readjust their personalities back to their individual selfish state and ultimately seek a divorce and division of assets.

    This is the basis upon which I view US politics. One side has predivided the national assets , and now seek a divorce to secure their acquisitions. It is a simple, and brutal as that.

    So when it comes to public conversation I now look at the empathy level of the person, most evident by determining their politcal leanings, in order to measure how I should understand what they are saying.

  17. Actually, Ootz, I think that is a bit rich coming from an industry that has pillaged the Australian public since Rudd began, even being complicit in (I believe) delaying efforts to establish the carbon price, now coming out saying that they need it to go forward. What they are really saying is having profitted immensely from the hike in prices without cost to them in the years from Rudd to Gillards carbon price, now they want a mechanism to foist further cost on the public to do the system building that they should have been doing from the beginning.

    What they face at present is inter distributor competition that will steadily erode their gains (how many people have been approached to stay with their distributor for a small percentage saving). A market mechanism will act as a kind of price stabilising defacto cartel device with public support.

    In principle I am in favour of a full on carbon price with the proceeds being fully applied to the building of renewable energy technologies. Like that is going to happen now that the whole process has been hacked to death by ideological players on both sides of politics, and economists to boot.

    That is how I see it for the moment, anyway.

  18. So when it comes to public conversation I now look at the empathy level of the person, most evident by determining their politcal leanings, in order to measure how I should understand what they are saying.

    That explains a lot.
    Not like me = wrong.

  19. Jumpy, I assume you make your blunt assessment based on BilB’s ” … I now look at the empathy level of the person … ”

    I have got news for you, there is such a thing called Emotional Intelligence (EI). You can read up the original research and finding in A Goleman’s (1995) ground breaking book that redefines Intelligence and success Emotional Intelligence -why it can matter more than IQ, you can also get a good overview and further developments in Wikipedia, but in short in short;
    “1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;

    2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;

    3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.”
    Which is a very handy assessment tool when in communication and for personal and professional development. So by the above definition, BilB projects already display emotional intelligence by recognising peoples emotional state as relevant in communication. Where as an inability not to understand the nuance of BilBs reading of other peoples emotional intelligence or “empathy level” would indicate a diminished Emotional Intelligence. Some people with Aspergers on other exotic conditions on the autistic spectrum have a pathological problem in dealing with personal and social emotional recognition, others have just never ‘got it’ or found a need for it.

    However, I tend to agree with you to conflate emotional Intelligence with the old political left and right is not convincing. I think the old left and right spectrum is outdated and not relevant anymore. For example there is a measurable difference between a libertarian and a conservative as well as a progressive, which can’t be contained in a bipolar spectrum.

  20. While on reding lists for christmas and considering the the post’s topic and our glorious leader’s role in it, you could do worse than reading up on the Faustian Pact. Better go to the original myths of ‘pacts with the devil’ or Marlowe’s treatment of it in Doctor Faustus or Goethe’s Faust in German just for the poetry and not so tragic ending ( I think angles intervened which a woman organised).

  21. We are all guilty of bias that clouds judgment, all of us.
    And efforts to be condescending are usually the first indicator of it in any conversation.
    I see that a lot.
    I’m currently on a project that wouldn’t have eventuated without the philanthropic donation from a ” right wing male “. It’s a library.
    No political leaning nor gender has the ascendancy on empathy. To say otherwise is just attempted tribalistic justification to attempt moral high ground.

  22. Jumpy, I thought I made it clear in relation to your “”philanthropic donation from a ” right wing male “””
    from my comment above yours

    I think the old left and right spectrum is outdated and not relevant anymore.

    In relation to your second cheap shot, I manage to work for a living, I volunteer, I read and I can deal with a chronic illness all at the same time. Your admission to “We are all guilty of bias that clouds judgment …” applies very much here. Besides that what has it got to do with the topic, are you thinking out loud your emotions again? I thought that we have a considered discussion about the dismal situation we find ourself in relation to the politics of energy in Australia?

    Meanwhile all you want to do is score personal points and provide free character assessments with no qualifications to do so. Are you capable of a decent discussion or do you just want to empty your metaphorical guts all over here?

  23. Thanks for your thoughts, Ootz. I will read up on Emotional Intelligence and adjust my thinking appropriately.

  24. Thanks BilB for your cogent reply to my energy industry leader comment. I always find your contributions insightful here and over at JQ. I am glad we have professional people with good insights into industries like manufacturing contributing in the Blogosphere. The dismal energy policies over the last few decades must have been extremely frustrating for people like you.

    In relation to public conversations and Emotional Intelligence, we should really hold that discussion over on the Saturday thread.

  25. Ootz – “I thought that we have a considered discussion about the dismal situation we find our self in relation to the politics of energy in Australia? ”
    I know the thread was triggered by energy matters but clearly the dismal situation is not at all limited to energy.

    Emotional intelligence looks very interesting – look forward to that on Saturday (Brian?).

  26. Jumpy this comment caused offence to others. You might like to think about it.

    I have posted before on how political affiliations seem to line up with personality traits. American stuff about conservatives and progressives.

    There are always exceptions, of course. The main one I remember is that conservatives tend to take positions on the basis of emotion (trying to hang onto what is) whereas progressives act more on reasoned argument. Conservatives use reason to support a position that is emotionally based.

    The argument sounds attractive, but really, I wouldn’t know.

    BilB is just trying to make sense of the world, as do we all, and to carry a concept around while testing it against experience is, I think, a good way to go.

    I’m working on another Turnbull/electricity post. Meanwhile this post on emotional style if you read down, does deal with Goleman’s ’emotional intelligence’ concept. Interesting concept, and very much worth discussing, but not sure it’s going anywhere as a psychological concept.

    That’s all I’ve got time for just now, but feel free to continue the discussion here if you wish.

  27. Wikipedia has a good article on Emotional Intelligence. Seems people are working on the concept, which has now divided into ability and trait EI, with an interest in leadership and negotiating social environments.

    Perhaps scientifically problematic, as of course is the notion of IQ, but covers a range of behaviours and experience we need, as a species, to talk about.

    The concept dates from 1964, and I remember it being spoken about in the 1980s.

  28. Emotional intelligence can be a useful concept as long as we don’t get too obsessed at measuring it and recognize that it can fall off radically as people move outside of their subculture. Think about the the Australian reaction to one of the Bali bombers smiling in court.

  29. Can we have Trump, Abbott, Sarah Hanson- Young, Hillary and Shorten take the EI test please.
    Lets get to the guts of this.
    I’ll do it if they do.

    Has anyone here done it, or just assumes that they must be in the top 1%.

  30. Jumpy: The score would depend on who you were thinking about when you answered the questions. I have some empathy with grumpy, pig headed old men from the construction industry so you might be the one to inspire me to do very well in the test

  31. The way I am seeing this (at present) is:

    Empathy is a product of how our brains are built and functions (this can change through life particularly in men)

    Cognitions are influenced by our empathies (glass half empty/full)

    Emotional Intelligence is an attempt to measure, in some parameters, how we operate within our empathy field as a product of our mental and educational development.

    The empathy/cognitions conection is particularly significant as it explains many contradictions of behaviour. An example is in the US pre-occupation with tipping. It might be considered that a big tipper is a high empathy person where in fact it is more likely to be the opposite. Personality traits of the lower empathy end of the spectrum are total self interest (narcicism) ,plus manipulation of other people (sociopathy), plus cold and detailed planning for maximum impact (psychopathy). I should say here that ASD (I believe) is in a quite seperate personality field. So the big tipper is very likely to be satisfying their manipulation of other people as they see the dependence of the receiver as being a manifestation of their power over that person. The small tipper or zero tipper is more likely to be the high empathy person who rejects the whole gratitude dependency cycle as being demeaning.

    So Jumpy’s example of the Conservative Hospital Giver is not necessarily (but also not necessarily not) an example of high empathy. It is equally likely to be an expression of substantial self interest and manipulation of a larger body of people for the purposes of self gratification.

    Extremely high intellect and drive can mask underlying empathy states for a very long time in a person’s life, but I think that it is evidenced in overall and final outcomes.

  32. I has just occurred to me that there is another possible parameterin all of this, particularly evident in women, and that is a sense of duty (or order). I have to think about where and if that fits.

  33. BilB, referring back to Richard Davidson’s work on emotional style, he developed six categories:

    Davidson has delineated six dimensions of emotional style:

    • Resilience: How rapidly or slowly do you recover from adversity?
    • Outlook: How long does positive emotion persist following a joyful event?
    • Social Intuition: How accurate are you in detecting the non-verbal social cues of others?
    • Context: Do you regulate your emotion in a context-sensitive fashion?
    • Self-Awareness: How aware are you of your own bodily signals that constitute emotion?
    • Attention: How focused or scattered is your attention?

    He started with a clean sheet of paper, and what he found does not preclude other categories. In the book he actually talks in one chapter about ‘compassion meditation’ and measured the brain patterns of experienced ‘comapassion meditators’, a practice among some Buddhist meditators.

    Of note here, emotion permiates life and all brain activity, emotions are never switched off, However distinctly different areas of the brain light up when different emotional states are engaged. The brain is somewhat plastic and habit-forming, so different habitual usage alters it, in the same way that tennis players usually have one big arm.

    So you can train yourself to feel differently, or operate in a different emotional style.

    His research has some limitations, as brain activity is measured in an MRI machine, which is a restricted environment and makes a fair bit of noise, I understand.

    There is scope, I think for further research on what has been conceptualised as ’emotional intelligence’, but such research is expensive and it’s hard to get large samples, together with control groups.

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