Category Archives: Energy

June 13, 1989 – “Engineers want greenhouse plan”

Everyone talking climate change in 1989…

The international community must take immediate steps to revise its energy strategies to ameliorate the greenhouse effect, the Institution of Engineers, Australia, warned yesterday.

Presenting its position paper, The Impact of Energy Use on the Greenhouse Effect, the association recommended action based on the premise that fossil fuels would continue to supply most of the world’s energy needs.

1989  Lewis, S. 1989. Engineers want greenhouse plan. Australian Financial Review, 14 June.

Also on this day- 

Rudd, Kevin. 2008. ‘Australia-Indonesia joint leaders’ statement on climate change, with the President of the Republic of Indonesia’. Media release. Prime Minister. Jakarta, Indonesia. 13 June 2008.  Indonesia carbon sink forestry thing

June 1, 2008 – Liberals demand solar panel action, via skydiving stunt

Bernard Keane, a journo with Crikey, wrote a great piece in 2010, while Environment Minister Peter ‘Midnight Oil’ Garrett was getting pilloried in the media (The Rudd caravan’s wheels were beginning to fall off). Keane pointed out that some of Garrett’s critics had been saying different things less than two years previously.  One of those critics, Greg Hunt, would be Environment Minister under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull..

Oddly, this is the Greg Hunt who throughout 2008 opportunistically joined the Greens in bagging Garrett for not rolling the solar panels program out quickly enough, after Garrett introduced a means test on the solar panel rebate to slow the remarkable demand for the program.  In June 2008, Hunt went skydiving — anyone remember that? — to demonstrate that the solar industry was in “freefall — but unlike me it doesn’t have a soft landing ahead of it”.

And here is more info-

Shadow minister throws himself out of a plane

2008 06 01 hunt plane

 

 

 

 

May 20, 1977 Fraser says “Top Priority is Coal…”

1977 05 21 top priority to coal“Energy research funds would go largely to studies of coal use rather than solar energy the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, said in Hobart yesterday.
Mr Fraser, who was replying to questions from about 70 school students on television, said the Government was looking very seriously at funds for energy research.
Fix this textHe had been asked specifically about solar-energy research, but
devoted most of his reply to coal research

Davidson, G. 1977. Top priority to coal. The Canberra Times, 21 May, p. 9.

What gets supported and what gets ignored? There is an intense politics to who gets the subsidies and the grants…  We blew it. As a species, we blew it.  So it goes.

May 16, 2005 – Energy White Paper a ‘White Elephant’ says Albo…

The 2004 Energy White Paper had been a slap in the face and kick in the … well… to the renewables industry in Australia. It ended up being a fulfilled wishlist for the fossil fuel sector (see Richard Baker’s pieces in the Age for the how of that).

Almost a year after its release, Anthony Albanese, Federal Labor operative, was on the case –

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 16 May 2005

http://anthonyalbanese.com.au/senate-slams-howards-energy-white-elephant

The Howard Government’s Energy White Paper is an energy white elephant.

The Senate Inquiry into the Energy White Paper has concluded the Energy White Paper will delay critical action on climate change for another twenty years….

 

Also on this day-

Clever piece in the Fin!!

Earl, G. 1990. Price and pay-off for the world’s green conscience. Australia Financial Review, 16 May.

IT is a country where the ambitious environment minister hopes to ride to higher office by promising to deliver the most rigorous environmental policies in the world.

The finance minister is aghast at the cost of the plan and has held it up in Cabinet for so long that his colleague has effectively gone to the people with a nation-wide series of public hearings.

But now the hearings have become a lightning rod for all sorts of discontent and the environment minister’s carefully nurtured public support is threatening to evaporate just when the Government sorely needs it.

It may sound like a familiar plot but this time the players are not Graham Richardson or Peter Walsh and the Federal Government concerned has a distinctly conservative hue – except when it comes to turning green.

Canada, with a resource dependent economy like Australia’s and a pro-growth conservative Government, is embroiled in a national debate over a government promise to introduce a comprehensive five-year environmental plan which is forecast to cost billions of dollars.

 

 

May 15, 2006 – John Howard throws the nuclear dead cat on the table

There were ructions beginning in 2006 around climate change.  The “APC6” meeting in Sydney was met with derision and protests. In April a bunch of businesses had joined with Australian Conservation Foundation to call for climate action, including a carbon price…  So, what did John Howard do? He reached for his little bag of wedges, and threw the nuclear option onto the table. This time in the shape of a post-meeting-Dubya-Bush announcement about the “Global Nuclear Energy Partnership”.

Here’s an account of the reaction.

At least one cartoonist absolutely nailed it.

2015 05 15 things so bad

 

“Mine is bigger than yours” – penis envy, emissions and energy storage #auspol

It’s another one of those weeks where the news cycle is dominated by climate change.  The first week of December last year saw  Josh Frydenberg announce that the impending climate policy review would consider an emissions intensity scheme  (something the Business Council now wants,  perhaps quietly regretting that they cheered on Tony Abbott as he repealed Julia Gillard’s Emissions Trading Scheme?)

Frydenberg’s words sent Cory Bernardi, Christopher Pyne and others ballistic. The very next day Frydenberg was back on the airwaves denying he had said what everyone heard him say, pouring cold water over the idea. Another backflip in the long history of backflips on climate and energy policy.  The following day, Malcolm Turnbull at the fish market, scotched the EIS idea altogether, proclaiming it to be another carbon tax.   All this before chief scientist Alan Finkel produced the first report of his review into Australian energy security.

At the beginning of February we had another intense week – Turnbull spoke at the National Press Club saying that coal would be the foundation of Australian energy generation for decades to come; followed by Resources Minister Matt Canavan talking of “clean coal” and suggesting the Clean Energy Finance Corporations rules could be changed to allow public funding (since investors clearly were not interested).  Days later ended with Treasurer Scott Morrison brandishing a lump of coal and cooing “This is coal… Don’t be afraid…  don’t be scared.” (And has since boasted about this to radio shocking jock Ray Hadley.)

As one astute  journalist wrote three years ago it’s part of

“a long campaign to redefine the stuff that comes from burning coal as a “colourless, odourless gas”, a harmless three-way cuddle between one carbon and two oxygen atoms that, happily, provides “plant food”

Morrison’s stunt was an echo of US Senator James Inhofe’s infamous snowball stunt of a couple of years previously.

A third such climate-and-energy week has ensued. Last Friday Elon Musk grabbed headlines around the world by tweeting a ‘done and dusted in a 100 days or free’ offer on 100MWh of battery storage. He had talks with both SA Premier Jay Weatherill and Malcolm Turnbull, both of which were poured over by journalists and analysts. On Tuesday the SA government announced a six point energy plan, which involved funding a new gas fired power station, a tender for battery storage, a change in royalty payments to ease gas exploration and new powers for the SA government to intervene in the National Energy Market.  This last point was predictably rubbished by the Federal Government, with Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg muttering about consulting lawyers.

Then Malcolm Turnbull, pre-empting the Finkel Review it commissioned in response to the September 2016 South Australian blackout, let alone the climate policy review (remember that?),  proposed an expansion of the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme (a nation building project from 1947 to 1974 is the largest engineering project undertaken in Australia, brought in under budget and before time), this time to ensure not additional energy production, but storage.

While Jay and Josh were having an extraordinary stoush in a suburban garage in Adelaide Malcolm Turnbull was touring that hydro scheme and could not help but say

“In one hour it could produce 20 times the 100Mwh expected from the battery proposed by the South Australian government but would deliver it constantly for almost a week (or 350,000 Mwh over seven days),”

It is almost exactly a year ago that Donald Trump assured voters that fellow Republican candidate Marco Rubio was wrong to cast aspersions about the size of his, um, hands….

In terms of childishness, well Lenore Taylor summed it up beautifully

“And sometimes the leader of the nation can join the policy discussion only by disguising his good ideas in a drizabone and bush hat, lest they be recognised for what they are by his own colleagues.”

A picture is worth a thousand words

Malcolm Turnbull tours the Tumut 3 power station while announcing the government’s plan for a major expansion of the Snowy Hydro Scheme

“Malcolm Turnbull tours the Tumut 3 power station while announcing the government’s plan for a major expansion of the Snowy Hydro Scheme. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP.” Source: Guardian article here.

The photo accompanying the article, by  Lukas Coch of Australian Associated Press shows Turnbull, in obligatory hard hat and fluoro and wearing safety goggles pointing into the distance,  predictably flanked by two other men.  Readers with long memories and cynical dispositions may recall that in  July 2014 Senator Ian MacDonald came to parliament in a fluorojacket, provided to him by the same people who gave Morrison his lump of lacquered lump of coal, namely the Minerals Council of Australia.

This is like a thousand other photos of politicians donning similar protective garb.  These all seem like desperate claims by desperate men, who are the epitome of the political class (“out of touch”) using props to try to build to their constituents, earnestly proclaim themselves to be “real,” “tough”  and ‘authentically working class.’

Climate Change is making us all anxious (if not terrified). These claims to authenticity, ‘common sense’ and machismo, are the devices that our politicians deploy to calm us (and perhaps themselves?). It’s not so much ‘virtue signalling’ but ‘virtuoso signalling’ – a claim to competence and hard-headness to see us through the tough times ahead. Given the vicissitudes of the policy-making “process” and the super-wicked nature of the problems, such performances are unsurprising.   What is perhaps surprising that it politicians seem to think that it still works.

Feb 28, 2007 – Malcolm on Renewables – we’ve come full circle…. #auspol #climate

Ten years ago today Malcolm Turnbull

counselled an assembled pack of press gallery journalists, saying ‘You cannot run a modern economy on wind farms and solar panels. It’s a pity that you can’t , but you can’t.”
(Prest, 2007: 254)

Then he came unstuck (or rather, was taken apart) on support for Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in November 2009 (the best accounts I’ve read are Paul Kelly’s Triumph and Demise, and Phillip Chubb’s Power Failure).

He had enough momentum to then call the ‘Direct Action’ scheme of his usurper, Tony Abbott ‘bullshit.’ And in mid-2010 he happily launched Beyond Zero Emissions Stationary Energy Plan.

And now. Well, in his speeches Turnbull seems indistinguishable from Abbott (some take comfort in his mentions of energy storage, or his actions in installing panels and batteries in his Point Piper mansion).

What happened?  Well, Robert Manne reckons we should look the man’s history as a barrister

Malcolm Turnbull is a barrister by training and inclination. For him, causes are quasi-clients that he voluntarily and serially embraces – with the kind of sincerity barristers must routinely muster in a court of law – in order to advance his career. At a certain moment, however, Turnbull appears to realise that this or that cause poses a danger to his progress. At this moment, the cause is quietly dropped, with as much dignity and disguise as possible. It is dropped because in the end there is only one cause that ultimately counts for him – the cause of Malcolm Turnbull. Perhaps almost all successful politicians have this quality to some degree. But with Turnbull, it appears to be definitive.

References

Prest, J. 2007: The Bald Hills wind farm debacle. Pp.230- 261 in  Bonyhady, T. and Christoff, P. (eds)  2007. Climate Law in Australia. Sydney: The Federation Press.