Some Puzzles About Energy & Climate Policies AND Turnbull

Today’s Australian reports that, at tomorrow’s meeting with his state counterparts, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will “press his state and territory counterparts to agree to 49 of the 50 recommendations contained in the blueprint for reform handed down by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel last month, arguing that they will inject ‘stability and security’ into the market”. He will also  “demand that Victoria and the Northern Territory lift their bans on onshore gas development. However “the meeting will not consider the proposed Clean Energy Target (CET), which is a priority for some states and many in industry, because of Coalition divisions over the policy” (see Finkel Not on Agenda for Meeting with States).

At the same time Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren, who supports the dangerous warming theory and would doubtless welcome more regulation, said he expected ­unanimity on the Finkel report but the focus remained the government’s discussion on the CET. Naively, he said “The faster we can enable this reform, the faster we can change the market and bring the cost down. “People want to stop worrying about the grid: they want to know it’s working, the costs are coming down and the grown-ups are running the thing. That’s achievable if we let that framework evolve.” Such a “framework” would not be a market, but regulations set by the government.

Just how the States might be prepared to agree to 49 out of 50 Finkel recommendations while not considering a CET whose composition would include some of the recomendations, and how people might stop “worrying about the grid” when Turnbull’s energy/climate policy is determined, is to say the least a puzzle! In fact, there are many puzzles rampant.

Take the question of whether there might be a carbon tax on CO2 emissions by cars, which arose yesterday when it was discovered that the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development had been seeking responses to its modelling of “ new hard line carbon-emission rules, which industry sources say could push up the price of a new car by as much as $5000” (see Cars to Have Emission Regulation but No Carbon Tax?). The department is of course the responsibility of Infrastructure Minister Fletcher, who had nothing to say about its modelling, but Education Minister Birmingham and Justice Minister Keenan weighed in, as did Environment Minister Frydenberg, who quickly ruled out any carbon tax. But he and Birmingham acknowledged that there might be adjustments to “fuel efficiency standards” at some stage. Acting PM Joyce had nothing to say: he was evidently missing Turnbull away visiting the Queen in London.Meantime, Opposition Leader Shorten seized the opportunity and indicated that Labor would not impose a carbon tax on cars. When Parliament resumes,he may seek some clarification of whether there is a clear distinction between a carbon tax on car fuels and an “efficiency” regulation of fuel consumption.

Another puzzle is why no notice is being taken of substantive media critics of the emissions reduction policies by Australian governments and the miniscule effect on temperatures those policies are having.

Andrew Bolt ridicules the possibility of having a carbon tax on CO2 emissions from cars and again draws attention to Finkel’s statement that even “if Australia somehow managed to stop emitting 100 per cent of its carbon dioxide there would be virtually no effect on temperatures”. As Bolt says  “All these schemes are all pain, no gain. And what are we trying to stop, anyway? Recent scientific papers confirm there’s been much less warming over the past two decades than predicted. Nor have we seen the empty dams, smaller crops and worse cyclones predicted, either.In fact, all our pain has come from global warming policies, not global warming itself.Switching us to more wind power, for instance, has driven electricity prices so high that businesses are closing and Australians losing their jobs.The government has to snap out of this. No wonder many Australians are furious with both big political parties when they’re punished to make a useless gesture to the new green god of the elites” (see Bolt on Climate Policy).

His colleague in the Herald Sun, Rita Panahi, points out that “last month’s Newspoll on energy policy revealed that the majority of voters wanted the government’s top priority to be energy prices rather than emissions. Sixty per cent wanted the federal government focused on fixing energy prices compared with 24 per cent who wanted the focus on meeting “targets to cut greenhouse emissions”. The numbers were even more stark for Coalition voters with a 63 to 17 per cent split. Labor voters were also more concerned by pricing (57 per cent) than emissions (29). Even a third of Greens (37) wanted pricing prioritised over emission targets while the figure for One Nation voters was 73 per cent”. Yet simply meeting existing targets will further increase electricity prices (if not offset by further subsidies). Her note that Turnbull “shares plenty of the blame” might have been amended to “is primarily responsible” (See Herald Sun on Climate Lunacy).

Turnbull has of course been busy telling UK Ministers how to govern. He apparently gave them the remarkable advice that governments “have no option but to focus on governing and doing the job of government. Mr Turnbull cited his government’s mounting successes in passing legislation through the Senate, such as the industrial relations bills used as triggers at the last double dissolution election, and, more recently, the Gonski 2.0 reforms” (see attached Turnbull Tells Brits How to Govern). Before his visit to the Queen, he indicated that because most Republicans are also Elizabethans, he would not repeat his earlier move to establish a Republic in Australia while she remains on the throne.

Note that Herald Sun cartoonist, Mark Knight, shows Turnbull having his trousers torn by a Corgi and the Queen saying “Like me, he was just wondering what you’ve done with our Tony”! (see cartoon Mark Knight on Turnbull/Queen).

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