Turnbull’s New Strategy & New Assessment of Importance of Fossil Fuels

Turnbull’s New Strategy & A New Assessment of Importance of Fossil Fuels

I have previously suggested that Turnbull is developing a strategy of making statements which are apparently compatible with the views of the conservative section of the Coalition parties but do not prevent him penetrating those views at the edge. This seems to have been the case with his strong support of a border controls policy while at the same time announcing a further increase in refugees despite Australia’s already high rate of intake, uncertainty about the checks to those admitted, and extensive public support for banning migrants from countries with substantial Muslim populations.

Now, Turnbull has correctly criticised strongly the obviously excessive use of renewable energy (40% of demand) by South Australia and the adoption of excesssive renewable energy targets by other Labor States while at the same time confirming his own support for reducing emissions viz “We’ve got to recognise that energy security is the key priority and targeting lower emissions is very important but it must be consistent with energy security”. Environment Minister Freydenberg and others have emphasised the importance of energy security.

Turnbull’s national target of reaching 23.5 per cent of energy from renewables is however also too high given the addition to Australia’s cost structure and the adverse effects this has on our international competitiveness while other countries are struggling to install much in the way of their renewable excluding hydroelectric. World Bank data for 2014 shows Australia with 7.4%, the US 6.9%, European Union 15.0% (for 2013) and China 3.6% (for 2013).  Turnbull’s hope is that the waverers in the Coalition will not call for a spill when their leader points to statements he claims are in general agreement with them – or at least with much of what they think and believe. Why risk therefore the loss of seats and a Labor government?

Turnbull has even got a modicum of support from the editorial writer for Weekend Australian, who claims that “Mr Turnbull has picked this issue correctly”(see Tackling coal, wind and ire). But political editor, Dennis Shanahan, has cottoned on to the strategy (see below PM Malcolm Turnbull finally connects with the people) even though he doesn’t yet fully appreciate how serious the excessive use of renewables can be for energy security.

That perspective is outlined in the lead letter, drafted with physicist Tom Quirk’s help, I had published today in The Australian (albeit with deletions by the editor). Both Shanahan’s article and my letter are set out below. Because it has potential implications for international climate change policy on limits to the usage of renewables and on fewer restrictions on fossil fuel usage, I have also sent my letter to some newspapers in the US and UK.

Also of interest in regard to the black out is the attached portrayal of the map of Australia with South Australia standing out (or down). Although not strictly accurate, the presentation of South Australia as the only state to achieve (sic) zero emissions stands out and implies a poor handling of policy by its Labor government, with support from the Greens (see Bad Taste email)

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