2
Mar
2017

Energy Policy & Global Warming

Yesterday I had a “coup”, with The Australian publishing a letter by me and giving it the heading “Bad Energy Policy” (see below). This relates to my comment in the letter that “Voters would have to choose between two bad policies, with the Labor Party offering results twice as bad”.

Although the Editor deleted some bits from my original draft (as shown by the bits in square brackets), he has retained the reference to the letter sent by 300 scientists to Trump on global climate. Several scientists from Australia are signatories, including myself ( I have a BSc Econ Hons from the LSE and economics is a justifiable inclusion here). The language used in Lindzen’s letter and included in my letter below is particularly interesting in that it asserts that government actions to reduce emissions of CO2  produce no environmental benefit and in fact cause serious social and economic harm. This can be taken as the view of deniers rather than sceptics. Note also that the lead author, Dr Richard Lindzen, is a highly regarded atmospheric physicist who has deeply researched this subject and has communicated with me on it (to put me on the right track!).

As I have previously mentioned, before Trump became President officially a group of expert “sceptics” was established to advise him on climate policy. A contact in the US has told me that any substantive statement may not be made until Trump has become more accepted publicly. His first speech to Congress yesterday (which included no reference to climate issues) has in fact received a favourable reaction and suggests he might be “settling down”.

In the meantime, it is reported that the Western Australian Labor Party has decided not to adopt the 50 per cent renewable energy target which Shorten has. In fact that part of Labor now has no renewable policy at all!  It appears that South Australia’s experience with its 40 per cent renewable has at least sounded a warning note. As with Turnbull/Shorten, the sources to be used for energy supply has become a major issue in WA, which has elections next week.

Yesterday also saw the publication of an article in the Financial Review by economist Dr Alan Moran, who has just published a book on Climate Change Treaties and Policies in the Trump Era. Note the comment in the article that “The preliminary report of the Finkel committee falsely argues that it is “technology” and “consumers” driving change in the electricity market when it is clearly the government itself through regulations and subsidies”.

While not a scientist himself, Alan has also deeply researched this subject and will next week be giving public presentations on it on 6,7 and 8  March.  He will be making these presentations in Melbourne (twice on 6th) with Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann, in Sydney (7th) with Nick Cater, and in Brisbane (9th) with Ian Plimer and Senator Malcolm Roberts (details of the times and places of the presentations are here). I will be attending the one on Monday evening.

Bad Energy Policy(Letter published in The Australian, 1 March 2017. Bits in square brackets deleted by Ed)

Your editorial (28/2) rightly points out that under the existing energy policy of the Turnbull government renewables are subsidised to a mandatory share of 23 per cent of national electricity supply and that this will involve  further  spending of about $10 billion over the next three years. It will also mean a further increase in electricity prices and less security of supply. Voters would have to choose between two bad policies, with the Labor Party offering results twice as bad.

Meanwhile, [an increasing number of commentators both outside Parliament and within it,] commentators are questioning the scientific basis for [government] policies designed to reduce the usage of fossil fuels [in circumstances where there has been no increase in global temperatures for nearly 20 years]. The election of a US President who questions such policies has now been supported in a letter signed by 300 US scientists [and led  by Massachusetts Institutes of Technology  professor emeritus Richard Lindzen, a prominent atmospheric physicist]. They say “Since 2009, the US and other governments have undertaken actions with respect to global climate that are not scientifically justified and that already have, and will continue to cause serious social and economic harm — with no environmental benefits”.

No doubt such statements will be challenged. But they surely warrant the suspension of a 23 per cent renewable target until more tangible analyses becomes available.

Des Moore, South Yarra.

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