Category Archives: Climate Policy & Planning

Electricity retailers reap rich rewards

For a billing service that needs to invest no more than renting an office, hiring some staff and buying office furniture and computers, rewards for an electricity retailer are rich indeed. In this post I publish some comments I sent to our local ABC Mornings presenter, Steve Austin, who has taken up the cudgels on behalf of consumers who are hurting from electricity price rises. Austin is fighting the good fight but unfortunately regularly misfiring. Then, while I was writing those comments, information came through of another Victorian investigation, which is a bit of a bombshell.

Sophie Vorrath at RenewEconomy has a post Failed experiment: Now it’s retail arms gaming energy consumers with the grisly details. Continue reading Electricity retailers reap rich rewards

Coal-fired power trade-off for new clean energy target

That is as reported by Simon Benson in The Australian:

    The Turnbull government is expected to take its revised energy policy to the Coalition partyroom early next month with a plan to make a significant investment in cleaner coal-fired power as a counterbalance to also adopting a clean energy target.

    The Australian has learned that Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg are working on a compromise deal on coal that would allow them to quell internal resistance to a CET.

Continue reading Coal-fired power trade-off for new clean energy target

Renewables make gas out of date, but coal not done yet

It’s the kind of article we expect in RenewEconomy, but this one by Angela Macdonald Smith is in the Australian Financial ReviewFuture for gas to be cut short by batteries and renewables:

    The conventional wisdom that gas will play an increasingly significant role in electricity supply as the market switches more towards renewables to back up that intermittent supply source, has largely gone out the window.

    Now it’s a discussion of how much an opportunity gas has before it gets squeezed out of the mainstream generation market by solar/wind and storage – not on carbon emissions grounds, but on costs.

Continue reading Renewables make gas out of date, but coal not done yet

It’s gas, not renewables, pushing up electricity prices

There has been a war about electricity prices reflected in front page headlines. For example:

Continue reading It’s gas, not renewables, pushing up electricity prices

Australia puts the brakes on wind

Wind power, seen as inherently evil by our national government, was in danger of taking over in South Australia. So something had to be done to slow it down, right?

How about if the wind blows strong providing cheap power we mandate that the gas must be turned up as well, so the wholesale price goes up instead of down?

It seems absurd, but that is what has been done. Continue reading Australia puts the brakes on wind

Finkel fail at Inside Story

Two of the best articles on the Finkel Review are at Inside Story – Giles Parkinson’s On climate, the consumer’s vote will be more important than the party room’s and Tim Colebatch’s The devils in Finkel’s detail.

Parkinson highlights the difference between promise and performance. Back in December, when the interim report came out, Finkel’s future looked exciting: Continue reading Finkel fail at Inside Story

Finkel flunks climate targets

Turnbull and Frydenberg kept telling us that the review of the national Electricity Market had to serve three ends. We need energy security to keep the lights on, we need cheaper prices, and we need to reduce emissions. In view of the science outlook on climate change, reducing emissions is a sine qua non, literally ‘without which nothing’ – in short an indispensable element.

Michael Slezak at The Guardian says that Australia’s policies on climate change have become poisoned by pragmatism. Bill Hare from Climate Analytics took a look and was horrified. The cuts modelled by Finkel stick out like a burning coal stack:

Continue reading Finkel flunks climate targets

Climate litigation goes global

From the New Scientist:

    If you can’t beat them, sue them. Citizens are increasingly taking governments to court over climate change inaction, with financial lenders – and possibly big firms – next in the firing line.

    Some 894 climate change cases have now been filed in 24 countries, according to a report published last week by the United Nations Environment Programme and Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law in New York.

    By some distance, most – 654 – have been in the US. Australia sits in second place, with 80 cases, and the UK third, with 49. The number of countries with climate cases has tripled since 2014.

Continue reading Climate litigation goes global

Science shows the need for urgent climate action

In August last year in Climate clippings 181 (Item 5) I linked to a report by Climate Analytics examining the impacts on Australia of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C and 2°C.

For me the crux of the report is this, from a discussion piece at The Conversation:

    The report predicts that half of the world’s identified tipping points – such as the collapse of polar ice sheets and the drying out of the Amazon rainforest – would be crossed under 2C warming, compared with 20% of them at 1.5℃.

If we go to 2℃, we will have a very different climate and there is a good chance we won’t be able to stabilise there. The bad news is that if we just carry on we’ll reach 1.5C by 2024, and 2C by 2036. Continue reading Science shows the need for urgent climate action

Scientists say go, Finkel says slow, Christensen says no

In this post I meant to show how the science has been showing for years now that we need rapid and concerted decarbonisation for a safe climate, and any hope of keeping global warming to 1.5˚C, in order to frame a consideration of the Finkel review. However, Abbott’s climate denialism is dramatically on full show and now George Christensen has thrown a grenade into the ring by saying he won’t vote in favour of Finkel’s Clean Energy Target. He says that most other Nationals won’t vote for it either. Indeed:

    He said that, rather than legislating a clean energy target, the government would be better off building high-efficiency coal-fired power stations to replace the ageing coal fleet. Christensen contended that approach would reduce carbon pollution.

Indeed Finkel’s review, which was carefully crafted to meet the full range of views in the LNP including climate deniers, looks dead in the water. Continue reading Scientists say go, Finkel says slow, Christensen says no

CO2 is scrambling our brains, but will it kill us all?

Ootz’s recent comment raised the question:

    should we be seriously looking at what the safe levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are for human beings?

That was in the context of an informed comment that we have not seen CO2 levels above 320 ppm for 27 million years, which predates hominid evolution. Studies indicate that 600 ppm globally, which is where we could be by 2050, might just render us extinct.

To jump to the chase, we don’t really know what the full effects of elevated CO2 will be, or indeed what they are now. However, indications are that as CO2 rises, our brains will work less well and we will become more limp and sluggish. A bit like a frog in a pot of water gradually being heated. Continue reading CO2 is scrambling our brains, but will it kill us all?

Looking forward to Finkel

The Finkel review of the National Electricity Market is due to be revealed to the premiers at COAG tomorrow, but is you’ve been reading the Australian Financial Review it’s all done and dusted. There’s really only one horse in the race, and it’s the Low Emissions Target (LET), which Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute says is the third last horse in the race, but picked because it’s better than the other two. That may be harsh, but the visionary scheme was first proposed by John Howard in 2007. Here’s Howard and Costello launching the scheme way back then:

It’s the least-worst, least-best carbon pricing scheme, but has the attraction of giving coal a chance of sticking around for a while. Continue reading Looking forward to Finkel