1 October 2021

Can the man who waved a lump of coal in Parliament be Australia's climate hero?

| Ian Bushnell
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison wears an Australian flag face mask

Has Prime Minister Scott Morrison seen the light? Photo: Facebook – Scott Morrison (ScoMo).

There is no doubt the climate is changing and it seems the political climate is also finally turning.

The man who infamously tossed a lump of coal around in Parliament saying it wouldn’t hurt you is now Prime Minister, and Scott Morrison – after getting away with one election – has finally sniffed the breeze and discovered that no matter what the right wing rump of the Coalition may believe, the rest of the world is moving on and quickly.

Although it still may not be quickly enough.

While Mr Morrison was away in Washington courting the Americans and facing up to the climate facts, his Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was delivering a wake-up call to the nation about how the financial markets had factored in the need to cut emissions and make the energy transition.

“Australia has a lot at stake. We cannot run the risk that markets falsely assume we are not transitioning in line with the rest of the world,” he said.

“Were we to find ourselves in that position, it would increase the cost of capital and reduce its availability, be it debt or equity.”

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He called for investment in emissions reduction in all sectors, including agriculture, mining, and manufacturing.

Seven years after Tony Abbott axed the carbon tax, Australia is also facing carbon tariffs from its trading partners.

Mr Morrison returned from the US spruiking Australia as potential renewable energy superpower, sounding very much like ANU vice-chancellor professor Brian Schmidt.

He’s even talked about Australia exporting technology to the likes of India to help drive emissions down, not mentioning of course the fact that his government has approved the Adani coal mine in Queensland from which its Indian proponents want to send the black stuff to India too.

This is all about preparing the ground for the Federal Government to adopt a target of net zero emissions by 2050 that Mr Morrison, or whoever is going, can take to the Glasgow climate summit.

But it’s an old trick to hold out as long as you can and then relent, to accentuate the supposed concession.

After a lost decade of climate wars it appears the federal Liberal Party at least is facing up to what most of them knew was the truth all along but were still happy to go to elections benefiting from the divisiveness.

It isn’t news that the financial markets accept the science and are moving accordingly, the money has been moving in behind the energy transition for years. What’s new is that it has all caught up with the Morrison Government, as have the positions of our closest allies, who also understand the security threats climate change poses.

While the Federal Government has been a laggard, the states and territories, including the ACT, have adopted more aggressive climate policies and targets, helping to cut Australia’s emissions, something Mr Morrison is happy to claim credit for.

But the Federal Government is still stacking its clean and renewable energy agencies with fossil fuel representatives and changing their rules so coal and gas can benefit from funding for low-emission technologies that now include the unproven carbon sequestration.

It is still pursuing policies and spending taxpayers’ money to keep Australia dependent on fossil fuels, such as its plan to allow subsidies for coal and gas-fired power stations as part of reforms to shore up reliability of the electricity grid, dubbed Coalkeeper by critics.

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Coalition members continue to claim that coal has a long future ahead of it even though the global consensus is that its days are numbered.

Mr Morrison and Mr Frydenberg’s rhetoric means nothing if they don’t actually walk the talk.

It may be galling for scientists and climate activists, who have been pilloried for years, to hear these two now calling for emission reductions so the planet can avert catastrophic climate change and global heating, but better late than never.

The problem is it will take considerable political front to get away with the switch and, really, their credibility should be shredded.

Why should Australia trust the Coalition to believe in and deliver the energy transition the country and the world needs?

The other problem is that now the point has been conceded, how do you argue against accelerating the change in the face of industry and financial momentum, and evidence that the world needs to do even more to stave off the impacts of its fossil fuel addiction?

For the man who warned about electric vehicle proponents wanting to steal the Australian weekend at the last election, it will be deft trick to go to the next poll as a climate hero and hold his Coalition together.

It should be a gift to Labor but it has endured its own climate wars of late.

For those on the front line in coal mines, gas fields and on the land, the time has come for honesty, plain talk and a plan to transition them to the new jobs of the green economy, not keep feeding them false hope.

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Black world technology to combat so called “climate change” has existed for decades. It isn’t being used as those who hold that power to the tech are are afraid of how society’s will react when they find out it’s been withheld for decades.

Also are we banning the sun or volcanoes? No we are not. The people pushing for climate change policies just want to see the western world economies destroyed. Are you one of them?

Capital Retro3:49 pm 03 Oct 21

To maintain the rage of the leftist haters, Morrison should now walk into Parliament waving a lump of uranium while announcing Australia’s intention to build nuclear power stations side by side with exiting coal/thermal ones.

LawnClippings9:41 am 02 Oct 21

… and perhaps that declining Commonwealth relevance (a reversal of what happened in the twentieth century) is why Mr Morrison and some of his Ministers seem so exasperated and truculent. Like teachers who’ve lost control of the classroom. On foreign policy including climate change, well, he’s obliged to follow Boris and Joe. And as for getting things done, let the States and Territories do that.

LawnClippings9:21 am 02 Oct 21

I’m not sure it matters whether Mr Morrison can be taken seriously on this issue. But it doesn’t matter. The States and Territories have done so much heavy lifting in this policy area (and will continue t do so) that it doesn’t matter a lot what the Commonwealth does. COVID and the renewable energy transition have revealed the Commonwealth to be, at times, a sort of Wizard-of-Oz figure, pretty impotent behind an impressive facade. A bursar managing money flows. I suppose the Commonwealth has foreign policy in theory but even that seems to have been contracted out to the US State Department!

HiddenDragon7:47 pm 01 Oct 21

The economic transition arguments currently being run in the name of climate change are eerily similar to the arguments which were used in earlier times to sell the idea of removing tariff protections for Australian manufacturing – it would all be rosy and wonderful and the liberated factory serfs would move into the broad, sunlit uplands of high skilled jobs. That happened for some, but for many others it was welfare, the black economy and what we now call the gig economy.

For a supposedly advanced nation, we now have one of the shallowest, dumbest economies in the G20/OECD group – as we discovered when the virus wrecked international supply chains and we found just how vulnerable we are. We are also one of the most expensive places in the world to do business.

The idea that we will miraculously, in the name of climate change, turn all of this around and become a powerhouse not just of innovation but of internationally competitive production is pathetic and laughable. We are good, sometimes world-leadingly good, at niche stuff, but that’s about it, and that would go nowhere near replacing the export and taxation revenues which currently derive from all the industries which would be closed or severely curtailed in the name of climate change. So “honesty, plain talk and a plan to transition” won’t just be for the workers displaced from those industries, it will come much closer to home for many who are cheering on this transition.

Capital Retro10:17 am 01 Oct 21

Anyone who has the cojones to wave a lump of coal in Parliament can do anything.

As usual, all the haters are coming out from under their rocks and abusing Morrison simply because is a great leader and high achiever. They did the same with Howard and Abbott but strangely not Turnbull.

The obvious successor to Morrison, Christian Porter, has already been eliminated by the left which is a shame because he would have been even better than the incumbent PM.

Get over it.

Climate change is a non issue, and even if it was, the Black world project tech that exists can eliminate the supposed threat.

You want to ask why are they pushing to cripple western economies while other economies are given a free pass.

Capital Retro10:30 am 01 Oct 21

Spot on OM.

It makes me very angry that counties like France which derives 71% of its electrical energy from nuclear power is leading the unelected UN pile-on against Australia. At the same time, the UN has mandated that China can continue to emit unmitigated until at least 2030.

The greatest con of all is here in Australia where the rising price of electricity is making the few remaining heavy industries we have to become even more uncompetitive. When there is no more base load power from coal we will only have a nation of basket weavers.

Perhaps someone could explain to me why we were told renewables cost nothing to run but we weren’t told about the massive subsidies that were needed to get to that stage?

Capital Retro,
The vast majority of increases in electricity prices in the last few have had almost nothing to with generation issues.

And the generation issues that have occurred are mainly around the Federal government’s lack of policy direction as older Coal fired power plants are shut down and replaced with cheaper renewables.

Proper planning from the Federal government would have smoothed the transition.

But unfortunately there still too many people wedded to the idea that we somehow require Coal forever because they find change scary.

Capital Retro3:09 pm 01 Oct 21

Tell me again about those subsidies that are given to coal generated electricity, chewy14.

Capital Retro,
Can’t see where I mentioned subsidies.

Large scale renewable generators are now cheaper than Coal fired plants without subsidy.

It’s not that hard to understand unless you’re wedded to one technology and hate change.

Capital Retro12:31 pm 04 Oct 21

It doesn’t matter how cheap renewable generators are now (after getting huge subsidies to get there) because they when they are not producing the power needed must come from elsewhere so this third party source )now coal and gas) actually subsidizes their existence.
You are the one wedded to the one technology. The only change we will get if we stick with renewables are cold nights and the disappearance of heavy industry.

Capital Retro,
And your favourite Coal plants also received huge subsidies to “get there”, they didn’t miraculously spring out of the ground.

“when they are not producing the power needed must come from elsewhere”

Storage and better grid management with a mix of renewable sources is the answer to your imaginary problem. It’s already happening.

I’ve literally provided you with the research multiple times showing that firmed renewable generators are cheaper than building new Coal plants, your statement is simply incorrect and shows a significant level of deliberate ignorance.

“You are the one wedded to the one technology”

Simply incorrect as I’m happy to support any technology that is better and cheaper in meeting our requirements.

You on the other hand want to pay higher electricity prices because you cannot accept change. It’s very strange.

Capital Retro3:15 pm 04 Oct 21

The 2021 Australian Energy Statistics for electricity generation shows that 24 per cent of Australia’s electricity came from renewable energy last year, up from 21 per cent in 2019.

It’s happening? Another 20 years at least by which time we will be 100% nuclear.

Currently, about 61% of electricity is from coal energy.

While your “hot” chewy, perhaps you can outline the huge subsidies that coal thermal plants received.

Capital Retro,
Well done, you’ve just quoted from data that shows that in around 10 years the majority of our electricity will be sourced from renewables. I agree.

Nuclear is too expensive and would take at least 10 years to begin construction on a plant if you could even find a location to put one. By that time, renewables will be even cheaper so nuclear has no chance in Australia.

Coal and fossil fuels in general received massive subsidies both in direct funding from governments in development, construction and operation as well as massive indirect subsidies in areas like environmental damage.

Happy to help once again.

Capital Retro6:00 pm 04 Oct 21

“Coal and fossil fuels in general received massive subsidies both in direct funding from governments in development, construction and operation as well as massive indirect subsidies in areas like environmental damage.”

Links please, but only ones in dollars and cents, not “socials”.

Chewy & Retro go head to head and I still can’t declare a winner.

All I know is that nothing is ever certain. All this talk of subsidies reminds me of the arguments about Negative Gearing. Frankly, claiming a tax deduction for expenses incurred to earn an income is ok to me.
Most people would agree that burning fossil fuels is polluting. Freezing to death in winter isn’t that great either and it’s becoming harder avoiding the cold with
ACT electricity prices increasing by 12.5 percent this year. Thankyou renewable energy.
Electric cars are a clean, if you ignore the mining of minerals to manufacture those new cars, the rarity of Lithium and the need to pay a fortune to replace your batteries after 8-12 years.
Solar panels from China are great too, well if you again ignore the manufacturing and transport. They used to be fantastic when Governments were pushing the unrealistic high feed-in tariffs. Now, maybe they pay for themselves eventually, provided your system is reliable and your installer hasn’t gone bust. Hey, buy a battery…..

I’m not against clean energy. In fact I like the idea. I just think that there is a fair bit of misinformation when it comes to the truth about how green renewable energy is.

Capital Retro,
You’ve been provided the links multiple times and refused to read or accept them.

So let’s see your links showing Coal is cheaper and superior than the renewables that you refuse to accept. Not random news articles, actual research.

It’s funny to see this article when the political party most to blame for inaction on Climate Change in the last decade is The Greens by not being pragmatic enough to accept Kevin Rudd’s CPRS.

If that market trading mechanism hadn’t been canned by the Greens for not being ideologically pure enough, we would be well on our way to net zero already.

Stephen Saunders8:11 am 01 Oct 21

No, jwinston, it’s UN net zero that’s the “man made myth”. It papers over the war on the environment, makes heroic assumptions about de-carbonising power and industry, and ditto carbon “capture”.

Which is why Morrison will certainly “commit”, pre election. He wants to win, and he knows it’s only a gesture.

Man made climate change = MYTH

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