In the Lowy Institute Poll 2018 (interactive version here) respondents were asked to rate 11 threats to Australia’s vital interests as (1) a critical threat, (2) an important but not critical threat, or (3) not an important threat at all. Here’s the result:
At 58% climate change came third. However, a stubborn 11% thought climate change not a threat at all.
Asked about climate change directly the report says:
Attitudes about climate change have been undergoing a dramatic reversal over the past six years. The number of Australians who saw global warming as a ‘serious and pressing problem’ about which ‘we should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs’ fell from 68% in 2006 to 36% in 2012. Since then, however, concern about global warming has been rising steadily. In 2018, almost six in ten Australians (59%) say global warming is ‘a serious and pressing problem’, up five points since 2017 and 23 points since 2012.
The issue of climate change and global warming continues to split Australians along generational lines. While a clear majority (70%) of younger Australians aged 18–44 see ‘global warming’ as a ‘serious and pressing problem’, just less than half (49%) of their elders have the same level of concern.
- most Australians have not been persuaded to support coal over renewables for the nation’s energy security. Almost all Australians remain in favour of renewables, rather than coal, as an energy source. In 2018, 84% (up three points since 2017) say ‘the government should focus on renewables, even if this means we may need to invest more in infrastructure to make the system more reliable’. Only 14% say ‘the government should focus on traditional energy sources such as coal and gas, even if this means the environment may suffer to some extent’.
- Even among those who take the most sceptical view about global warming (the 10% who say ‘until we are sure that global warming is really a problem, we should not take any steps that would have economic costs’), 40% favour a focus on renewables. Nine in ten of the rest support a focus on renewables rather than coal, as do 72% of Liberal-National Party supporters. (Emphasis added)
Back in 2016:
- most Australians (88%) agreed that ‘the use of fossil fuels is in decline around the world and Australia should invest more in alternative energy sources or risk being left behind’. Only 53% agreed (45% disagreed) that ‘Australia has an abundant supply of fossil fuels and we should continue to use and export them to keep our economy strong’.
Currently the Energy Security Board (ESB) is scurrying to complete the final version of the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) policy to be voted on by COAG on August 10. A 52-page document was produced last week, with 10 working papers on technical aspects to follow this week. Final feedback is due by July 13.
If the states all agree at COAG then it seems the final hurdle will be the LNP party room.
Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy has discussed these developments in three articles:
Then there were three interviews on ABC RN’s Breakfast on 26 June in anticipation of a meeting with the government’s backbench energy committee where representatives of despite the urgings of the manufacturing, mining, business and agricultural sectors who supported the NEG, plus an earlier podcast at RenewEconomy:
- ABC RN Breakfast – Josh Frydenberg talks to Hamish Macdonald
- ABC RN Breakfast – Craig Kelly. Chairman of the Backbench Committee on Energy and Environment
- ABC RN Breakfast – Politics with Paul Bongiorno
- RenewEconomy – Special Podcast: Mark Butler on the NEG and EVs (13 June) (Click on the button at the bottom.)
See also my earlier post NEG: the plan to do less than nothing.
To cut to the chase, Mark Butler says Labor is concerned that the NEG do no harm, and that it can be ramped up to a meaningful target if Labor attains power. He reminds us that Labor’s target of a 45% reduction by 2030 is for the whole economy. In order to achieve this the electricity sector must do more than its arithmetical share.
It seems clear from the Parkinson articles that the NEG is designed to do actual harm, essentially to give existing and new coal and gas their best chance (Frydenberg actually says it), to put renewable energy in a deep freeze for 10 years, and to give ‘business certainty’ by legislating to prevent a future government from increasing targets.
Bongiorno says that Frydenberg is walking on eggshells under threat that a bunch of Liberals and half the National Party will cross the floor if they don’t get what they want. This, apparently, is an overt commitment to coal.
Some of the provisions are weird.
Responsibility for meeting targets will be assigned to the retailers, not to the generators. It appears that there will be penalties for over-achievement. This seems to imply that retailers may be unable to buy available renewable energy if it exceeds the target.
Tell me this is not true. It seems like an invitation to go off-grid for those companies able to do so.
Then there is something about what retailer are buying and for what price will be on a closed registry.
If states choose “irresponsible” targets, above the 26% Paris commitment, then other states will be able to underachieve by the same amount.
Tony Abbott is right, we should not have joined the Paris Accord. The external affairs powers of the Commonwealth deals them into the game. If I’m right and electricity is a state responsibility under the Constitution, we would all be better off if the Commonwealth butted out.
David Leitch in NEG: Irrelevant at best, harmful at worst says:
- The NEG does nothing: It won’t lower prices, it won’t reduce the large gentailer influence, it won’t bring about the new investment required … it has no commitment to change. In short, it’s fraud as far as policy goes, or at best, a fix.
A political fix, that is.
He thinks that Victoria, QLD and the ACT will choose optics over hard work and simply demand a price for letting the NEG through.
With apologies to Xavier Herbert, poor fellow my country!