After a summer of record heat and wildfires, the Australian people along with business and industry are looking for concrete, responsible climate policies.
Business and consumer groups have accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of “nakedly political pork barrelling” and “an egregious lack of process” over $3.5 billion in energy announcements.
That’s what we got according to Ben Potter at the AFR.
I think it’s worse than that, but lets start with a few inconvenient graphs from Jacob Greber’s The government thinks we’re idiots and is not serious about reducing emissions:
The Government of course includes LULUCF (Land use, land-use change, and forestry) which includes land-clearing in Queensland which is big enough to distort the figures. You can see why the Government chose 2005 as a starting point in this graph, from its own environment department last year:
In a post in October last year National emissions inventory scam(s) I explained the cherry-picking with the baseline, and showed this graph:
Then the Coalition included LULUCF which magically turned an increase 27.0% (113.4 Mt CO2-e) above 1990 levels into a 9.3% decrease as shown in this graph:
So our Kyoto response was based on a large scam.
In the post I said:
The only way we’ll get them down by 26% by 2030 is by changing the rules of the game, which is where the political rhetoric is going.
I thought the Coalition would simply point to the per capita and emissions intensity data. They’ve gone way better than that by simply cutting the task nearly in half. Here’s the graphic, from Phillip Coorey in the AFR:
Here’s an enhanced version from a Dylan McConnell tweet:
The magic of ‘Kyoto credits’ and Snowy 2.0 have reduced the task by about half.
Other countries are discarding their Kyoto credits, and it raises the issue of whether Labor is going to use the credits to achieve its 45% target.
In this article we have:
Speaking to Sky News, the “minister for lowering electricity prices” said it would be irresponsible for Labor not to use the carryover credits.
“[Labor’s 45% target] will be economy-wrecking if they do use the carryover,” Taylor said. “It will apocalyptic if they don’t use it.
Unfortunately the BCA has bought into the notion that Labor’s target of 45% reduction by 2030 will be “economy wrecking”. It comes from Brian Fisher’s absurd modelling that puts the cost to the economy at $472 billion. Fisher has campaigned vigorously against climate action and is the Minerals Council’s favourite modeller.
Angus Taylor and others accepting his work ignore the fact that Fisher’s analysis claimed that the Coalition’s own emissions target of 26 to 28% would cost around $70 billion, preferring a separate report from the ANU that said Australia would meet its emissions target early and at no extra cost.
Almost universally, the Coalition’s climate policy has had a terrible reception. Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy said it puts lipstick on Tony Abbott’s pig.
Ben Potter at the AFR says:
- Business and consumer groups have accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of “nakedly political pork barrelling” and “an egregious lack of process” over $3.5 billion in energy announcements.
Peter Hannan at the SMH pointed to Morrison’s pea-and-thimble trick.
Katharine Murphy at The Guardian said If the Coalition has had a climate epiphany, I’m Beyoncé.
John Menadue at Pearls and Irritations republished Giles Parkinson’s piece, and tells us that the National Party remains solidly in the column of climate sceptics and is dudding country people on climate change, the NBN and more.
Paul Bongiorno at the New Daily reminds us:
- Malcolm Turnbull once famously described Direct Action as “a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale and a fig leaf to cover its determination to do nothing”.
The same can be said of the new package.
Sophie Vorrath reports Scientists slap down Australia government over fake climate claims:
A group of 28 climate scientists, academics and former heads of energy companies on Monday released a joint statement to correct the record, and remove any ambiguity on the subject:
– Australia is NOT on track to meet its 2030 emissions reduction target;
– Even if it was (it’s not), the target itself is woefully inadequate for what science says must be done to avert dangerous climate change.
Climate Councillor Greg Bourne explained it to Fran Kelly on the ABC radio:
when Australia used these credits back in the context of Kyoto, it was bad enough.
“Using those credits right now, and trying to bring them forward, will be seen by every other country as – this is just disgusting, just disgusting,” he said.
Here’s a summary of the announcements from Ben Potter’s article:
Mr Morrison virtually anointed his fourth big ticket energy project for the week in Tasmania on Wednesday, backing feasibility studies into three pumped hydro projects in Tasmania and saying that if they pass muster and the government is re-elected it will underwrite them in two years’ time.
On Monday and Tuesday Mr Morrison committed $1.4 billion to Snowy Hydro’s $4.5 billion Snowy 2.0 expansion, $2 billion to reboot its Emissions Reduction Fund for another 10 years, and $56 million towards building the Marinus Link – a second high voltage interconnector that aims to connect Tasmania’s abundance of hydro resources with the mainland Victoria.
On Thursday energy minister Angus Taylor will unveil $50 million in new spending to help small firms and community bodies cope with high energy costs. They will be able to tap up to $25,000 per applicant to spend on efficiency boosting equipment, management and assessment systems and – form community organisations – solar panels.
Giles Parkinson and Sophie Vorrath have a neat piece 10 things to know about Scott Morrison’s so-called climate “pivot”. I’ll comment on two.
Climate Solutions Fund
- The Climate Solutions Fund is the new name for Mr Abbott’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Mr Morrison is pledging $2 billion over 10 years for this stunt. Mr Abbott’s ERF is on track to burn through $2.55 billion in five years.
Just to make the maths obvious, the annual spend is being cut from an average of $510 million to $200 million.
Ian MacKenzie, Senior Lecturer in Economics at The University of Queensland, wrote about the EFR’s failings last year.
Parkinson and Vorrath say it has been used for Rio Tinto to build a diesel generator, for others to do gas.
- the ERF is also being used to prop up fossil fuels, with funding going towards a fossil fuel power plant (that would have been built anyway) for one of the world’s biggest gold mines. This is justified on the grounds that the new fossil fuel power plant will be ‘cleaner’ than the one it will replace.
Now as Michelle Grattan details farmers will receive assistance with revegetation and drought-proofing, and local communities will receive help to reduce waste and boost recycling.
‘Climate solutions’ is coming to represent an ATM for just about anything in the bush.
See also Coalition’s carbon reduction fund needs to be overhauled, say energy experts by Mark Ludlow and Ben Potter.
The fascination of pumped hydro
It seems that pumped hydro is the new black, headline-grabbing glamour projects and acceptable to the Coalsheviks. Ben Potter has written at least three articles in the AFR questioning the wisdom and viability of the Coalitions plunge into large-scale hydro:
Morrison pumps hydro over coal with Phillip Coorey
The business case for Snowy 2.0 has never been released, it being commercial in confidence. They are claiming an 8% internal return, but only after the Commonwealth is tipping in an extra $1.4 billion. This does not come from the budget, because it is a commercial venture meant to pay for itself. However, it appears that the motivation was that without it Snowy Hydro’s annual dividend contribution to the budget would be affected unless extra money was tipped in.
No planning was done to see whether alternative approaches to energy backup would be better, approaches that did not require $2 billion to be spent on transmission lines.
Snowy 2.0 comes on stream three years after Liddell closes, but would require coal mines with four times the capacity of Liddell to close. This is more than AEMO forecasts will close. One closing would be Gladstone, a long way from Snowy.
The Tasmanian hydro venture (Battery to the Nation) is still in the feasibility stage, but looks to require that the transition to wind and solar is dramatically accelerated and 7,000MW of coal plants retired early. BOTN will be cheaper than Snowy 2.0 and will compete against it.
On the face of it, smaller commercial ventures on a more distributed basis would have provided a more flexible and nimble response.
The fact is that as the letter from 28 scientists and others said, this is politics all the way down. The Commonwealth is intervening in complete disregard to plans being worked on by AEMO and the states through the COAG Energy Council. It assumes a failure on that co-operative process and a national emergency, which has been confected ever since the lights went out in SA in September 2016. That physical event was dwarfed by the impact of Cyclone Debbie in Queensland, for example, which was barely news, because it was coal and gas that failed, and we are accustomed to blackouts here.
Before these latest policy announcements electricity market players complained that Australia was close to uninvestable because of a lack of a coherent policy framework. Now we have a complete shambles, where just about anything could happen. Opportunistic projects announced according to political need in complete disregard to proper planning.
This was exemplified in spades with the news Deal signed for huge coal-fired power plants in Hunter Valley, Hong Kong firm says. This will reignite the climate wars. Coalshevic backbencher Craig Kelly says it’s just what we need. Adam Bandt for the Greens warns of unprecedented civil resistance and unrest. Labor’s Mark Butler warns of a carbon indemnity risk of up the $17 billion for each power plant, and:
“All the advice we’ve received says new coal plants are more expensive and can’t compete with firmed renewables to deliver dispatchable power.”
In fact, they are not flexible enough to deliver dispatchable power in the new environment, but would have to be run full bore to come near to commercial viability.
Finally, who would believe anyone who claims that emissions are on a downward trend, as Angus Taylor did on the basis of this graph?