Battles on Climate Policy

Scribes Climate Battle Continues

In my Commentary last Saturday 20 Jan I referred to my battle to persuade The Australian to publish a letter critical of analysis on climate policy by Energy Minister Frydenberg and to my success in eventually having a shortened version published. This is attached together with two others praising the 19 Jan article by climate expert Bjorn Lomborg arguing that, even if fully implemented, the Paris climate agreement would have a much smaller effect in preventing temperature increases than predicted but would be incredibly expensive and could very well exacerbate hunger.

Meantime I had  composed another letter asking in Shakespearean language whether the policy judge had become too frightened and had failed to recognise the beneficial effects of natural influences since Shakespeare wrote. Rather surprisingly, this letter has been published today, together with a letter questioning the logic of existing policy (see below). Arguably, such continued critiques reflect the failure of the Energy Minister and boss Turnbull to publish an analysis explaining why the critics of existing policy are wrong when they show that temperatures have not always risen in past periods when those periods have also experienced strong increases in emissions of carbon dioxide. Such a publication should also, of course, explain the effects on temperatures from natural causes unconnected with the growth in emissions. The continued publication of inaccurate weather data by BOM also requires a genuinely independent review and correction.


The Australian, 12:00AM January 22, 2018

Climate bard floweth

Blow, blow, thou winter wind perchance yon Hamlet envision the cause of dangerous global warming for it resides in thy breath so rude that a climate study finds the undiscovered country at whose sight awakes an everlasting judge.

Soft you now per chance to dream that this perceives the experience of early years when the judge delivered the adage of freeze, freeze and pass ye to sleep no more (The Climate Study Group advertisement, 19/1). Or behold the ease with which our many beliefs of years to come will bring good fortune if we restrain the breath of what we use to live.

But why, you ask, should our clever modelling not provide us with everlasting sun and moon? And put no limits on the breath we use. Perchance the answer is that such free emissions will cause the judge to heat beyond the norm. Or do the witches of Macbeth simply frighten our judge beyond his control? Me thinks he plays with much ado about nothing and should recognise the beneficial effects of natural influences since Shakespeare wrote.

Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic


Poor energy plan

Long-term power needs will not be solved by micromanagement of the system. Australia’s population is increasing, employment is increasing, power consumption is increasing and we are accommodating the change by “demand response”, that is paying industries such as BlueScope, a large profitable 24/7 employer, to curtail power usage.

What sort of long-term energy plan is this, in a country that’s supposed to be a land of opportunity?

We persist in subsidising wind and solar energy in the interests of controlling emissions, while concurrently installing diesel generators for peak power needs. Where is the logic in this? Our long-term power needs won’t be solved by Snowy pumped hydro, which is a minimum of five years away and an aberration, along with batteries. If the government can build Badgerys Creek airport why not a real power station?

Sandy Longworth, Mosman, NSW


Political Battle Also Continuing

Meantime, in an article on Australia Day and the beneficial effects for Aborigines of the establishment in 1788 of European culture and governance  in Australia in 1788, former PM Tony Abbott has also indicated that “you’ll hear a lot from me this year about ending the emissions obsession that’s sending power prices through the roof and killing industries”. It will be recalled that in October last year Abbott  told the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London that influences other than carbon dioxide emissions have at least as important an effect on climate. This suggests that Australia’s current target for reducing such emissions should at a minimum be considerably moderated.

So far, Abbott has been unable to persuade Parliamentary colleagues to endorse a policy which aims to move to much lower target reductions in emissions and lower electricity prices. Yet the benefit to voters, and signs that in practice the Paris agreement is not being implemented, may increase the preparedness to move targets down here in Australia (it Is reported that Germany has not reduced emissions in the last 10 years and that it will lower the target set for 2020).

Ironically, Frydenberg himself is today reported as attacking South Australia for the state’s excessive reliance on wind and solar power and it being forced to import power from Victoria (about 30 per cent) during sweltering conditions last Thursday night. There may be more heatwaves which draw attention to the problem with usage of renewable. But the Victoria government is itself planning a greater reliance on renewable and will inevitably become unable to meet shortages in South Australia. Both States have increased their spending on back-ups (including diesel which exude emissions) to replace the shut-downs of coal-fired power generators and some of the additional costs have been reflected in the much higher electricity prices.

This aside, the Federal government does not yet have a definitive policy on how much reliance could be placed on renewable and what the additional cost might be. In August last year an Energy Security Board of “experts” was established by the Turnbull government to advise on how the announced National Energy Guarantee policy would operate. But all the experts appear to believe in a policy of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and, as such, will inevitably recommend a significant reliance on renewable. This will not be considered by the COAG energy council  until April and, as it cannot require State governments to meet recommended targets,  the end result is likely to be a high cost system with differences between states. Just how much higher electricity prices will be will depend in part of the extent of subsidies provided by the various governments.

The convoluted process involved in finalisation of a Federal policy on renewable, the much higher electricity prices than under a coal fired system and the likely numerous failures to meet Paris targets have the potential to put pressure from Liberal Party members on to the present ministry to at least modify the existing targets.

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