What Andrew Barr would have included in PM’s climate plan

Ian Bushnell 28 October 2021 27
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says Prime Minister Scott Morrison has set the bar very low on net-zero emissions. Photo: File.

The Federal Government’s climate change plan contains no new policy and lacks any substantive initiatives for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, according to ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

Mr Barr, who is also ACT Minister for Climate Action, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison has set the bar very low and Australia in effect had already adopted this objective in signing the Paris Agreement five years ago.

The Federal Government has left the heavy lifting to the state and territory governments, which have led the country on addressing climate change during the past eight years, said Mr Barr.

He said the lack of detail and the refusal to release any modelling with the plan, which includes investing more than $20 billion in ‘low emissions technologies’ in the next decade, is a concern.

Mr Barr was particularly dismissive of the inclusion of the unproven carbon capture and storage technology, which it is hoped could cut the emissions of coal and gas-fired power stations, energy intensive industries and gas fields.

“I expect this will be another example of the ‘sunk cost fallacy’ [throwing good money after bad] for the economic textbooks of the future,” he said.

Mr Barr said the ACT wanted to see new policies that would make a real difference.

These include the introduction of fuel emissions standards, and targets for electric vehicle new sales.


READ ALSO: Morrison’s way to Glasgow is still paved with coal


Mr Barr said there should have been a more ambitious target for reducing emissions by 2030 than the 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels the government is sticking to, and dates for phasing out coal production in the National Electricity Market.

There should also have been additional investments in technologies such as large-scale battery storage and green hydrogen; a training fund to reskill workers in affected industries; and incentives to assist households and businesses to lower their emissions profiles.

Mr Barr questioned whether the Morrison Government is genuine about tackling climate change and global heating.

Asked whether the Federal Government had been forced into adopting the 2050 target by the warnings from international finance markets, Mr Barr said: “The public statements of senior Federal Government ministers speak for themselves.”

He may have been referring to Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, who has always emphasised the difference between net zero and ‘absolute zero’.

“If your goal is absolute zero, you want to wipe out any industry with any emissions; that means agriculture, that means mining, that means fossil fuels – they have all got to go,” he told the ABC.

“Our goal is net zero, and net zero means that we can still have an agriculture sector, and we’re still going to have gas as an important part of the mix for many years to come.

“That’s appropriate because you simply can’t wipe out these industries and expect the economy can keep functioning; jobs can continue to be created, and we can have the balance in the electricity grid that we need.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud, from the National Party, told Sky News that coal miners are not “shuddering in their boots”.

“Our technology roadmap will keep you in work well beyond 2030, well beyond 2040, and probably towards 2050,” he said.

“And if carbon capture storage is taken up not just here in Australia but around the world – your kids could have a job in a pit – that’s the sort of work we’ve been trying to work towards.”

Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce apparently signed up to the plan despite telling his party room he opposed it, but not before extracting billions of dollars worth of concessions.


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27 Responses to What Andrew Barr would have included in PM’s climate plan
Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 7:04 am 02 Nov 21

Interesting. What is Andrew Barr doing about the proposal (and Regulator approved) for energy suppliers to start billing solar owners for "cough cough" adding stress to the network due to excessive feed ins?

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 8:15 pm 31 Oct 21

“Asked whether the Federal Government had been forced into adopting the 2050 target by the warnings from international finance markets, Mr Barr said: “The public statements of senior Federal Government ministers speak for themselves.”

Had the windfall revenue from the mining boom gone into a sovereign wealth fund (like Norway’s) we would now be in a much better position to give the vampire squids of the international financial markets the two-fingered salute which they so richly deserve.

Even more to the point, had that windfall revenue been saved, rather than distributed (albeit fairly unevenly) across the Australian community, we would now have somewhat fewer people who are so detached from economic reality and thus so susceptible to vacuous sloganeering about “real action on climate change” – little realising that the industries they demand be shut down are funding the entitled materialistic lifestyles which so many Australians now take completely for granted.

Canberra is an epicentre of that entitled materialism and is also an economic black hole when it comes to spending on imports compared to earnings on exports (even if you swallow the highly tendentious modelling about the “export earnings” of the overseas student trade). That’s why the impatience and dismay of Canberrans, as articulated here by their government, is so ironic – a bit like turkeys demanding Christmas every month.

Futureproof Futureproof 3:54 pm 31 Oct 21

Climate plan. 1. Use Zoom. 2. Follow the money to that fatcat globalists. Al Gore anybody? 3. Don’t buy from the CCP. 4. Cut out the QANTAS Chairmans Lounge for Greens politicians

Susan Williams Susan Williams 3:14 pm 31 Oct 21

Nuclear is the way to go. Eventually politicians will catch up with the rest of the population.

Mark Chapman Mark Chapman 1:43 pm 31 Oct 21

"Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud, from the National Party, told Sky News that coal miners are not “shuddering in their boots”.

“Our technology roadmap will keep you in work well beyond 2030, well beyond 2040, and probably towards 2050,” he said.

“And if carbon capture storage is taken up not just here in Australia but around the world – your kids could have a job in a pit – that’s the sort of work we’ve been trying to work towards.”"

So much to unpack.

-Little-to-beproud-of has every intention of keeping the dirty and outmoded practice of coal mining going well past the point where we need to stop it.

-Coal mine owners are in any case doing their best to automate to the hilt, so SFA jobs there.

-"your kids could have a job in a pit – that’s the sort of work we’ve been trying to work towards" How terribly Dickensian of him. Does he want them paid tuppence a shift too?

M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 9:50 am 31 Oct 21

That was a most interesting perspective, and I thank Mr Barr for it Next week could you please ask the mayor of Braidwood his take on the PM's 2050 climate plan?

DJA DJA 7:19 am 31 Oct 21

“The Federal Government has left the heavy lifting to the state and territory governments …”. Well, Australia is a federation of states working together for a common wealth. Seems to me the leaders balk against Federal intervention when it suits them and balk against Federal delegation or sharing of responsibility when it suits them. There have been plenty of comments and articles about the ACT Government that reflect this.

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 3:40 am 31 Oct 21

In effect, Morrison claims we can reach “net zero” 2050 while ignoring the environment and growing population by 40%.

That’s the contradiction Barr ought to be talking about. Except that Labor and Greens also support Big Australia.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:41 pm 31 Oct 21

    Net zero jobs, that’s what he means. But he will still get his unfunded retirement benefits.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:17 am 03 Nov 21

    Capital Retro,
    Now what are you talking about? Unfunded retirement benefits?

    Morrison only entered parliament in 2007, he is not in a defined benefits superannuation fund.

Scott Abela Scott Abela 6:20 pm 30 Oct 21

Maybe the ACT government should start worrying about the job they're paid to do... look after the Roads,rates and rubbish ofmthe Canberra community and leave the other stuff to those who get paid to do it... it's not like Barr is doing that good a job now that he should criticise others..!

    Guy Manton Guy Manton 9:00 am 31 Oct 21

    Scott Abela I wasn't aware that our democracy required you have to tick certain boxes before you can comment on government policies :D

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 9:57 am 31 Oct 21

    If you compare what services we get in Canberra compared to other places, we are living a pretty good life here. There are certain groiups of people that refuse to ever Admit Barr has done something good because he is gay. they then try and make it out to be the policies. We'll blame high costs of living on Barr, yet the rest of Australia, who knows whose fault it is for the high cost of living there... couldn't possibly be that cost of living is a federal issue now could it? Until people realise that its the policies set at a federal level that affects their costs of living the most and the ACT or state government, we'll continue to live in a country of rising costs.

    JeeKay Dee JeeKay Dee 1:33 pm 31 Oct 21

    Justin Watson agree. The privilege in this town is strong!

    Mark Chapman Mark Chapman 1:48 pm 31 Oct 21

    "leave the other stuff to those who get paid to do it"

    That's the problem. CoalMo and Well-Done ARE being "paid to do it", but THEY AREN'T.

    Scott Abela Scott Abela 2:22 pm 31 Oct 21

    Guy Manton settle down Karen, I just want them to focus on their jobs, that's not a big ask...!! International policy, is not their jobs, its quite simple .

    Guy Manton Guy Manton 2:26 pm 31 Oct 21

    Scott Abela says the dude complaining to the manager about them having an opinion about anything not directly related to their job :D maybe you should practice what you preach and only worry about your own job :D :D :D

Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:12 pm 30 Oct 21

Well, Mr Barr would say that and of course he would say wouldn’t he and if a real journalist dared to challenge him he would say also he wasn’t being politically opportunistic.

Shane Rattenborough probably wrote the media release anyhow.

And now that the ACT has the most expensive electricity in Australia due to his bungling he isn’t really in a position to be giving further advice, is he?

    nickwest nickwest 9:07 pm 02 Nov 21

    My electricity costs in a NSW city were about 40% more than I pay here in Canberra. That’s per kilowatt-hour, no trickery with bundling services, solar offset etc. It just cost more, and the carbon emissions weren’t net-zero either.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:07 pm 02 Nov 21

    “Were” is the operative word, Nick. I have a house in remote country NSW and the costs are about the same as ActewAGL in Canberra now but the solar feed-in rate is 17c per KwH.

    Who are you kidding when you imply electricity in Canberra is net zero emissions, too?

    chewy14 chewy14 7:17 am 03 Nov 21

    Capital Retro,
    The electricity costs in NSW are still higher than the ACT, who are you kidding.

    And the reason is obvious and has very little to do with renewables or generation sources, it’s all about network costs.

    In the ACT, we have very low network costs because we are a city state. So we don’t have to subsidise rural and regional areas for large network and transmission costs like people in NSW do.

    Stop making stuff up.

kenbehrens kenbehrens 4:14 pm 30 Oct 21

AB needs to be careful when he tells Morrison and Taylor that they haven’t gone far enough with their climate plans because under his ALP/Greens’ local climate plans, our electricity prices have just increased an average of 11.95% and in order to cool our city, the Greens want to mandate (for new construction), that 20% of your backyard be set aside for trees, which will result in more complex and expensive constructions.

高島智矢 高島智矢 4:14 pm 30 Oct 21

I find it funny how there is no mention of high speed train and public transport if you are interested in zero emission.

Imagine a 3 hour high speed train between the most popular route of Syd-Mel. The amount of jet fuel and car emission each year, would have Australia reaching net zero earlier than closing down coal plants.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 9:53 am 31 Oct 21

    I agree, we've continually been sold that rail is expensive in this country, yet we'll build a new rail line for frieght but not people. Its all about keeping people buying petrol and cars etc. We don't even need very fast rail, just something approaching 200 km/h would be good. Sydney to Melbourne via train in 6 hours is a massive improvement. Its the worlds busiest overland air corridor, probablt because hte options are not that great.

    Mark Chapman Mark Chapman 1:44 pm 31 Oct 21

    高島智矢 Not either/or - BOTH.

nobody nobody 4:08 pm 30 Oct 21

Mr Barr didn’t even mention the N-word, a proven technology providing reliable emissions free power since 1954. The poll shows 57% of 1,228 votes clicked yes, it’s about time we got on with it.

chewy14 chewy14 11:12 am 30 Oct 21

Ah, now yesterdays article makes perfect sense.

It was just a lead in piece of partisanship to plug the local ALP again with some sycophantic “journalism”.

Despite the fact that the local ALP has to deal with almost none of the national challenges that net zero comes with and who have shown themselves to be thoroughly incompetent with the amount of money they’ve wasted on inefficient programs in this space.

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