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:
- No choice needed between Energy Security or Low Emissions – if we act now
- Value for Energy Customers in Network Transformation
- Zero Net Emissions electricity – It can be done
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.