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Climate change – the right schemes and the left despairs

Written By: - Date published: 8:02 am, March 2nd, 2020 - 27 comments
Categories: australian politics, climate change, Environment, ETS, national, Politics, same old national, science, uncategorized - Tags: , ,

Over in Australia and despite the worst efforts of the Liberal Government the roll out of  solar and wind power generation continues. 

The place is awash with solar energy.  It has over 2.2 million solar panels.  The City of Melbourne has 2,200 of these and has certified that it relies on 100% renewable electricity to run core services and street lights.

If only at a state or national level Australian institutions were prepared to match Melbourne’s efforts.

The Liberal Government is a major problem.  They hate anything to do with solar or wind with a pathological ideological hatred that is frankly disturbing.

This is shown by this recent announcement that the Government will be favouring untried technologies and ignoring solar and wind, despite their proven ability.

From Katharine Taylor at the Guardian:

The Morrison government will on Friday signal plans to shift investment from wind and solar to hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, lithium and advanced livestock feed supplements, as part of a “bottom up” strategy to reduce emissions by 2050.

Angus Taylor will use a speech to an economic thinktank to put some flesh on the bones of the Coalition’s much-vaunted technology roadmap. The emissions reduction minister will also declare Australia will take a technology-based long-term emissions reduction “strategy” to the United Nations-led climate talks in Glasgow at the end of this year.

While not ruling out adopting a specific emissions reduction target, Taylor will contend the “top down” approach of countries proposing emissions reduction targets in the global climate framework has “failed” because countries are not delivering on their commitments.

According to a speech extract circulated in advance, Taylor will say the government intends to roll out “a series of detailed pieces of work” between now and the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow, known at COP26, in November. Taylor will say Australia wants “to lead the world” on a new approach to laying out domestic abatement plans.

And he wants to leave it up to the market.

“Wind and solar are economic as a source of pure energy at least, and the government should not crowd out private sector investment,” the minister will say. “We must move our investments to the next challenges – hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, lithium and advanced livestock feed supplements to name a few”

So instead of using tried and proven techniques they want to gamble with our future and hope that unproven technologies work out.  And leave the roll out of existing technologies up to the market.  Without the sorts of market interventions that are vital.

As for carbon recapture I suggest that Australia should do away with the need for the recapturing to occur and just leave carbon in the ground now.  No more coal mines seems to be the simple solution.

Taylor’s analysis is crazy. Why invest in unproven technologies when what is required is the mass roll out of existing technologies?

Again from Katharine Murphy at the Guardian:

Australia can achieve a transition to net zero emissions by 2050 with known technologies, but the deployment of low emissions options will need to be accelerated significantly, according to new analysis by ClimateWorks Australia.

The yet-to-be released analysis, which was previewed at a workshop at the Australian National University amid a resumption of the climate wars in federal politics, suggests transitioning to net zero will require Australia’s electricity market to be 100% renewables by 2035, as well as achieving deep energy efficiency and electrification in buildings, and an accelerated rollout of electric vehicles.

The analysis says to remain within 2C warming, Australia would need at least half of all new cars in 10 years time to be electric vehicles. On a trajectory of staying within 1.5C, it would be three in four cars. Current government projections point to one in five cars sold.

And specifically:

Anna Skarbek, the chief executive of ClimateWorks, which is a non-profit advisory body that works within the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, told an ANU forum reaching net zero in Australia was entirely possible. “We know the technology is available, it is about how to accelerate the uptake,” she said.

“Looking just at the domestic economy, not the export economy, the technology mix is available for Australia to achieve net zero emissions within the carbon budget the science requires for 2C and for 1.5C.”

Skarbek – who is a former investment banker and a founding director of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation – said achieving net zero would require dialling up progress on the known technologies and “vastly scaling up carbon sequestration through forestry to buy us time to also scale up the research and development for the residual emissions”.

“If we want to achieve 1.5C instead of 2C warming, which we know from the science, 2C is exponentially worse than 1.5C, to do that, we can’t afford any of these areas to be going slower than they could,” Skarbek said.

“It’s all in.”

But the Government’s suffocating indifference is stopping projects from proceeding. From Steve Hanley at Cleantechnia.com:

At CleanTechnica, we like to feature all of the amazing clean energy projects taking place in Australia, despite hostility from the federal government. But there is trouble on the horizon. A lack of clear renewable energy policies from the Australian government and difficulty getting approval from the Australian Electricity Market Operator to connect new projects to the nation’s grid have many renewable energy developers ready to pull the plug on further investments in Australia.

According to PV Magazine, during a webinar put on last week by Australia’s Smart Energy Council, government relations manager Wayne Smith said, “They’re done. The sovereign risk in Australia is too great.” During the presentation, Oliver Yates, the former CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, said the combination of curtailments and connection failures, together with arbitrary rules governing access to Australia’s transmission network, are all creating “an environment that is starting to become uninvestable.”

He went on to say that after a decade of gibberish from the federal government regarding renewable energy policies, the whole process is “unable to be understood by participants.” Business needs to be able to assign and assess risk accurately in order attract investors. The participants in the webinar warned current policies make it impossible to do so.

And the former General Secretary in charge of the Paris Accord talks is advocating for civil disobedience.

From Jeff McMahon at Forbes:

In a book out tomorrow, the woman who led the negotiations for the Paris Agreement calls for civil disobedience to force institutions to respond to the climate crisis.

“It’s time to participate in non-violent political movements wherever possible,” Christiana Figueres writes in The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis,” which will be released tomorrow by Knopf.

Figueres served as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010-16. She co-authored the book with her strategic advisor, Tom Rivett-Carnac. The two also support voting:

“Large numbers of people must vote on climate change as their number one priority,” they write. “As we are in the midst of the most dire emergency, we must urgently demand that those who seek high office offer solutions commensurate with the scale of the problem.”

But they note that electoral politics have failed to meet the challenge, largely because of systemic roadblocks including corporate lobbying and partisan opposition.

Meanwhile in Aotearoa a ban on default Kiwisaver funds investing in fossil fuel companies has been called virtue signalling by National.  It seems to me we need a whole lot more virtue signalling if that is the case.

27 comments on “Climate change – the right schemes and the left despairs ”

  1. Gosman 1

    Banging on that a right leaning government is not supporting a big government approach to tackling climate change is like bemoaning taking your dog for a walk. Of course a right leaning government prefers an approach like this. If your aim is to look at ways to mitigate and reduce the negative impact of climate change then you need to acknowledge that different groups of people will tackle it differently.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      The problem is that they are not tackling the crisis. They are sabotaging attempts to deal with the crisis. They need to be called out on it.

      • Gosman 1.1.1

        Have they not already been called out numerous times both in Australia and overseas?

        • Wensleydale

          So… what's your plan, Gossie? Just let them prevaricate, obfuscate and generally fuck around until we're all broiling in our skins?

          • Gosman

            All I am stating is that calling them out repeatedly hasn't really worked so perhaps a different approach might work.

            • solkta

              Morris Dancing perhaps ?

            • the other pat

              pray tell what that different approach might be?…..castration?…..shooting?….or just tie them to a stake in the sun and have a 22nd century version of burning at the steak oops i mean stake.

  2. dv 2

    So where is the Hydrogen coming from?
    How iwill iit be distributed?

  3. Sabine 3

    Well when we consider mining for lithium to run batteries so that all future 10 + billions of us can still pretend its ok to run single serve vehicles to work (if we sill have work then) and feel good about being 'green' then the left has all rights to despair, and the non left, and the non right, and all the not affiliated to any party mumbo jumbo because neither the left, nor the right, nor any of the other suits has anything to offer but platitudes and please, oh lord buy me a EV, all my friends want one, and please let the tax payer pay for it.

    The problem is not right nor left, the problem is that our selected suits don't care so as long as they get re-elected to squander another three years doing the absolute minimum they have to in order to stay in bread and butter.

    I just read an article about the suits in Singapore getting a pay cut equal to one month salary (including the PM it seems) where they postponed a GST increase in order to show 'solidarity' and make life easier for their citizens that may be impacted by the Corono Virus.


    I can not at all never imagine that any of our selected suits would ever do such a thing and give up all that free money they get for sitting in parliament.

    and here we are again discussing what the no mates party will not do, rather then discussing the exiting things our selected government will do. And why is that? Because they are not doing much. Sign a meaningless, already defunct paper and gush about EV cars, while ignoring the plight of the most environmental consious ones, namely the ones that are too poor for fancy cars, heat pumps, expensive imported food/clothes etc and who take public transport.
    Go figure.

  4. AB 4

    "They hate anything to do with solar or wind with a pathological ideological hatred that is frankly disturbing."

    Maybe because wind and solar can be done on a small, local scale by individuals, communities, and cooperatives. Their potential to evaporate the profits of large corporates can't be tolerated? The only way right-wing governments will do anything about climate change is if the people who profited from creating the crisis can profit further from trying to resolve it. They are going to double-down and risk killing us all to preserve their pathological ideology.

  5. Bill 5

    It appears to me that climate debates have progressed to nothing above confused and sad theatrics.

    Right now, the oceans are in the process of rising by some metres, insects are dying in unprecedented numbers, and our food is losing its nutritional value.

    That's what the picture is and will remain even if we go beyond net zero to absolute zero today.

    But roll out electric cars faster. And get to a pointless net zero by sometime never, sooner. And basically write off brown skinned people and poor people to preserve the illusion of a middle class future.

    As an example of what I'm pointing to, take the following quote from Anna Skarbek used in the post (apparently a "good actor").

    “Looking just at the domestic economy, not the export economy, the technology mix is available for Australia to achieve net zero emissions within the carbon budget the science requires for 2C and for 1.5C.”

    I'll just state the obvious. Net zero doesn't allow for coming within a carbon budget of any size. Net zero is code for continuing carbon emissions.

    I want to reference the second sentence of this comment again by way of a double barreled question.

    What is the likelihood of the world's oceans surpassing a 1 or 2 metre rise in the space of a human lifespan, and what do the comfortable middle classes in richer countries think they're going to do when that ocean rise has wiped out all of the worlds river deltas and associated valleys where we grow food (eg the over 40 000 square km at sea level that's California's Central Valley where more than 50% of the US's fruit, nuts and vegetables are grown)?

    And while you're thinking that one through, throw in the deltas of the Yellow River, the Mekong, the Nile…..

    • Gosman 5.1

      Even a 2 meter rise in sea level will not wipe out all of the worlds river deltas and associated valleys.

      • Bill 5.1.1

        And, of course, you've got a source for that assertion, right?

        This guy – Peter Ward – paleontologist and professor at Washington University and University of Adelaide, is one source I can give you for what I've written. There are others.

        btw, in what fcking world (aside from your imaginary one) are river deltas situated anywhere other than close to sea level?

    • Ross 5.2

      Yes, the sea level could rise by two metres. But not tomorrow and not next year. It could happen by 2100. By that time, various changes will have been made to ameliorate the effects of climate change or to adapt to its effects. A lot can happen in 80 years and no doubt will.


      • Bill 5.2.1

        Unless scientists, including those who have looked at the paleontological record with regards to CO2 concentrations and sea level are way off the mark, then sea level will rise by 2m. There are no ifs and maybes. And then it will continue to rise beyond that, partly because of the contribution of melting ice from Greenland, and WAIS becoming ungrounded. (Note – WAIS doesn't have to melt to add to sea levels)

        But you think rising sea levels can be halted somehow? If so, what do you know that King Canute missed? Or maybe you were thinking more in the line of nanobot insects; growing food on non-fertile soils; injecting nutritional value back into plants???

        I doubt all the above, and would reckon you're just in one of the many camps these days that peddle any among a 1001 varieties of denial…"something will happen" – "something will be invented" – "because I can't imagine it, it can't happen" – etc, etc.

        • Ross

          Oh so not being a doomsayer is being in denial. If you want me to say the end is nigh, I can do that too!

          Dont know if you saw Sunday last night, but there was an interesting story about Sean Simpson from LanzaTech which is turning waste (especially plastic) into ethanol.


          • McFlock

            I'm no doomsayer compared to many here, but you are definitely in denial.

            We are on a runaway train. When it stops, it could be a derailment where nobody is hurt, but that's unlikely given people are already being knocked around (wildfires, floods, sea encroachment in lowlying areas, drought, etc).

            You're saying we won't hit anything in a while, some people are using their hankies out the windows as air brakes, no need to worry.

            More sensible people are trying to figure out how to stop the train, and know that it will take an effort from everyone on board.

          • Bill

            It's reality on one side of the coin, and denial on the other. Doomsayers, like denialists, aren't particularly well connected to reality.

            btw. What’s the by-product from burning ethanol?

            • Koff

              Carbon dioxide and water – both greenhouse gases, but guess you (Bill) knew that and Ross hasn't done his scence homework!

        • pat

          sadly Bill it appears too many fail to grasp the level of ocean rise already baked in (not too mention the other effects)….net carbon neutral or not …we are currently at 413 ppm and rising.


          Beyond despair

          • the other pat

            do not despair!!!…..if we are nearly wiped out as a species then the "elites" can hide away with no one to wipe their asses and perhaps live on for a decade or two……the planet will repair itself over time hopefully and maybe the universe will allow homo fuckkead not to be born again and be replaced with a true homo superior yes

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