Category Archives: Climate Policy & Planning

Turnbull does energy policy on the back of an envelope

For over a month now I’ve been trying to do two posts – one on climate as an existential threat, and another on whether 1.5ºC is at all still possible. I keep being diverted.

Malcolm Turnbull has been dithering for months over whether the government would accept the Finkel review recommendation for a Clean Energy Target. For some time now, it has been clear that the climate contrarians in his own party, and the Nationals starting with Barnaby Joyce, would not accept anything that is negative about coal. In the end they asked the brand new Security Energy Commission for advice, in terms that were severely constrained. They got their advice, faithful to the brief in an eight-page letter, and announced a “breakthrough” in the form of a National Energy Guarantee to deliver affordable, reliable electricity with industry and stakeholder consultations to follow, plus the necessary modelling to be undertaken only after the states have agreed. Therein lies the problem. Continue reading Turnbull does energy policy on the back of an envelope

Queensland powers up for a warm summer

One morning recently, 10 October I think, local ABC radio host Steve Austin called up Queensland energy minister Mark Bailey to ask him about an announcement the Queensland government had made. Something about, on a voluntary basis, turning down your aircon so it runs at 26C and being paid for the power saved.

Bailey obviously had a story to tell, but wasn’t given a chance to tell it. Austin is not a boofhead, but he sometimes does a good imitation of one. In this case Bailey was bullied and harassed, “Just answer my question!”, which was whether the purpose of the scheme was to save people money, or to keep the lights on, I think there was a third option which I’ve forgotten. In any case the answer “All of the above” was not permitted, and we never found out what the scheme was about.

With Bailey dispatched, Austin gave LNP spokesman Scott Emerson the opportunity of a free rant, presumably in the name of ‘balance’ with no right of reply for Bailey. Later in the morning Austin told us he had trouble getting people to come on the show! What a surprise! Continue reading Queensland powers up for a warm summer

Abbott’s ‘Daring to doubt’ – how does the science stand up?

Not well at all, according to the scientists. Actually it is a travesty of language to call Abbott’s position “science”. In this piece I’ll highlight the kind of thinking that unfortunately cannot be dismissed as an Abbott aberration, but has the Turnbull government in it’s thrall. Let’s start with David Rowe’s amazing cartoon from the AFR:

Continue reading Abbott’s ‘Daring to doubt’ – how does the science stand up?

Tony Abbott finds his true voice on climate

This David Rowe cartoon comes from the days when Tony Abbott actually led the country. Originally he had been a weathervane on climate change. However, as Katherine Murphy points out, he had done enough positive work on climate change as a leader, for example by signing us up the Paris agreement and retaining the RET, to disqualify himself from speaking to a group of climate denialists in London. She thinks is latest frolic is sad and cynical – just Abbott being disruptive as usual. Continue reading Tony Abbott finds his true voice on climate

Climate clippings 117

On Monday and Tuesday this week we are going to have the AFR national Energy Summit in Sydney with everyone there, including Josh, Jay, Bill, Andrew Vesey and a different Malcolm Roberts (Chief Executive, APPEA). Should be fun.

The Weekend AFR had about half a dozen articles, led off by an article by Ben Potter, Angela Macdonald-Smith and Mark Ludlow (no doubt pay-walled) which said our energy has become dirty, expensive and annoyingly unreliable. They reckon something has to be done, it’s just that:

the causes identified by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – or unofficial backbench energy spokesman Tony Abbott – are not the same as the causes power industry experts and regulators highlight. Continue reading Climate clippings 117

Electricity shock

Rod Sims’ speech Shining a light: Australia’s gas and electricity affordability problem to the National Press Club certainly established that Australia has a gas and electricity affordability problem which is hurting many consumers and businesses. Electricity prices have more than doubled since 2009 as shown in this graph:

Continue reading Electricity shock

Gas to burn, but at what cost?

Four and a half years ago, at the national conference of the AWU in 2013, general secretary Paul Howes issued a warning:

    Howes warned that unless some gas was reserved for domestic use, and limits on coal seam gas extraction were lifted, the massive investment boom in LNG would soon affect the supply and price of domestic gas. And consumers, business and manufacturers would all suffer.

    “This is one of the most important resolutions we’ll debate at this conference,” he said.

Continue reading Gas to burn, but at what cost?

Are we serious about our Paris commitments?

The Australia Institute has looked at the penetration of renewables required in the electricity market to meet our Paris commitments, and come to the conclusion that we need from 66 to 75% renewables by 2030, rather than the weak 26-28% currently being assumed in relation to the Finkel review.

The basic issue is simple. If we don’t maximise the reductions in the electricity sector, we’ll have trouble meeting our overall Paris commitment, full stop. It will require a large and expensive effort in other areas such as agriculture. Completely decarbonising electricity was always the low hanging fruit. We appear to be ignoring this strategy completely, and the new report does not help all that much. Continue reading Are we serious about our Paris commitments?

AGL struggles daily to keep Liddell going, and looks to ‘flexible’ power

According to the AFR, AGL Energy faces “a huge daily challenge” just to keep its “geriatric” Liddell coal-fired power station running and will need to spend up to $150 million just to “keep our noses above water” until 2022. It will cost $900 million to keep it open for another 10 years, as Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg would have it.

“It’s exceptionally challenging,” AGL Macquarie general manager Kate Coates told the group of press representatives and other interested persons on the tour on Tuesday. Continue reading AGL struggles daily to keep Liddell going, and looks to ‘flexible’ power

Coal now in short supply!

Former PM Tony Abbott said it would be “unconscionable” to adopt a clean energy target and he would cross the floor rather than vote for it, adding that his government had been elected “to abolish the carbon tax and end Labor’s climate change obsessions to go further down the renewables path.” He said there was “no chance” the party room would support a “significant increase in the amount of renewables in our system” and called for Hazelwood 2.0.

On the same day, the AFR’s front-page headline was New threat to power supply, the problem being that coal-fired power stations in NSW are struggling to find enough coal. Continue reading Coal now in short supply!

Does the Government want to solve the energy crisis?

Last week ended with talk of breaking up AGL, along with experinced political journalist Philip Coorey saying:

    It is becoming more apparent the government is as happy to have a fight as find a solution.

A fight over energy all the way to the next election could suit it very well, if the main priority is to “kill Bill”. What it says it wants is “dispatchable baseload”. Cheap dispatchable baseload, and for a sizable rump it must be with coal.

Of “dispatchable baseload”, Giles Parkinson asks is that a thing? Continue reading Does the Government want to solve the energy crisis?

Turnbull to walk away from the Clean Energy Target

According to Malcolm Farr, when the Finkel review appeared, this is what Malcolm Turnbull said about the Clean Energy Target:

    “Well it would certainly work, there is no question it would work and we are looking at it, giving it very favourable consideration.”

Rafael Epstein interviewing Josh Frydenberg on RN Drive replayed Turnbull’s audio, saying also the CET had “strong virtues”. Continue reading Turnbull to walk away from the Clean Energy Target