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Jan 29, 2013

Abbott’s adviser hates wind farms, doubts climate change

Tony Abbott's latest Coalition policy statement remains short on climate policy detail. More worrying is his selection of a noted anti-wind farm advocate and climate change sceptic as lead business adviser.

Tony Abbott’s policy statement promised the direction, values and policy priorities of the next Coalition government. It contained no additional detail on climate change policy beyond what was outlined in the Coalition’s 2010 election policy, which was largely expected. But what was more unnerving was outlined under economic policy:

“We will establish a new Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council to advise the Executive Government on developing the economy. The Business Advisory Council will be chaired by leading Australian business leader Mr Maurice Newman.”

Maurice Newman has an impressive business pedigree. He was chairman of the Australian Securities Exchange and also rose through the management of what is now Deutsche Bank’s Australian subsidiary (acquired by Deutsche Bank in the 1990s) before becoming its executive chairman. This comes on top of a range of other senior business and government positions, including chair of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

But he has also made a range of public statements that indicate his advice to Abbott will be detrimental to businesses focussed on clean energy and carbon abatement. On wind power, Newman wrote in the publication The Spectator on January 21 last year:

“Even before they threatened my property, I was opposed to wind farms. They fail on all counts. They are grossly inefficient, extremely expensive, socially inequitable, a danger to human health, environmentally harmful, divisive for communities, a blot on the landscape, and don’t even achieve the purpose for which they were designed, namely the reliable generation of electricity and the reduction of CO2 emissions.”

On the issue of whether human activity is leading to warming of the atmosphere he wrote in The Australian on November 5:

“When Mother Nature decided in 1980 to change gears from cooler to warmer, a new global warming religion was born, replete with its own church (the UN), a papacy, (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and a global warming priesthood masquerading as climate scientists.”

He then elaborated that:

“Regrettably for the global warming religion, its predictions have started to appear shaky, and the converts, many of whom have lost their jobs and much of their wealth, are losing faith. Worse, heretic scientists have been giving the lie to many of the prophecies described in the IPCC bible. They could not be silenced.”

What would Newman think of the Coalition’s pledge to allocate $3 billion to an emission reduction fund or maintaining the renewable energy target at its current settings? He stated in The Spectator:

“We have witnessed the birth of an extraordinary, universal and self-reinforcing movement among the political and executive arms of government, their academic consultants, the mainstream media and vested private sector interests (such as investment banks and the renewables industry), held together by the promise of unlimited government money. It may not be a conspiracy, but long-term, government-underwritten annuities have certainly created one gigantic and powerful oligopoly which must coerce taxpayers and penalise energy consumers to survive.”

To be fair to the Coalition, Newman is not in charge of the Coalition’s climate policy. But it comes on top of a range of other actions that raise serious doubts about the Coalition’s commitment to its 2020 emissions target, such as:

  • The appointment of Dick Warburton, who also doubts anthropogenic global warming, to advise on its carbon emission reduction policy
  • The repeated and widespread public mocking and doubt expressed about the need to address global warming by parliamentary members of the federal Coalition
  • The dumping of Malcolm Turnbull as leader, on the very issue of his commitment to climate change policy action.

Given this, it is especially important the Coalition provides much greater detail about the emission reduction policies it intends to implement.

Ian Macfarlane wishes to retain the two-yearly reviews of the RET, in spite of the investment uncertainty this would generate. In addition, the Coalition remains ambiguous about whether the RET could be cut to conform with Origin and Energy Australia’s “real 20%”.

The Coalition’s latest policy statement also fails to clarify some important components of its emissions abatement purchasing fund. In response to criticism of grant tendering as a climate change policy mechanism, Greg Hunt has been arguing his scheme would employ an auctioning process. Yet the recently released policy statement provides no mention of auctions and continues to talk of purchasing abatement via tender.

The statement outlines that funding for the emissions reduction fund will be $3 billion. A spokesperson for Hunt has since clarified this would be for a four-year period. Yet this funding is unchanged from what the Coalition pledged for the 2010 election when it had three additional years up its sleeve to deliver on its 2020 emission reduction target. It seems difficult to believe the Coalition could deliver the target without a major boost in funding considering the shortened timeframe.

More policy detail is the only antidote to scepticism surrounding the Coalition’s commitment to its 2020 emission reduction target.

*This article was originally published at Climate Spectator

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37 comments

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37 thoughts on “Abbott’s adviser hates wind farms, doubts climate change

  1. Malcolm Street

    DIY_Sunrise – hard as it is for Queenslanders to grasp, there are other parts of the Australia. Down South Sydney’s had its hottest day ever, and Canberra it’s second hottest.

  2. kd

    I guess the only good thing is that Australian policy will be overtaken by events. Cheaper rooftop solar. Micro-generation multi-source renewable energy appliances that should hit $5-10k in every garage within a decade.

    Another good thing would be a theoretical LNP government threaening to bring the country to it’s knees by short term vested interests and thus exposing themselves as the hollow unrepresentative swill that they are. But this second part of my comment is probably wishful thinking. but we’ll see how the next british election goes.

  3. DIY_Sunrise

    “demonising of opponents by the mercenary flunkies of the fossil fuel industries”

    You guys are beyond parody.

    Compete in a free market and let people decide what they want to spend their own money on. Without the AGW scare there will be NO wind industry at all.
    Fossil fuels are in no danger of being unable to sell their product and you are living in a strange world if you really believe that they give a toss about any half baked CO2 hoax.

    “Most designs follow the wind and are safe in cyclones”
    You should be writing for Viz!!

    ” captive consumers denied a free-market choice”
    Yes. That is your only strategy to sell your ridiculous non-viable wind – deny consumers a choice. Nice. Thanks, by the way.

    Oh so Queenslands drought prediction is now something to be airbrushed out of history is it Malcolm? Inconvenient truth that Flannerys predictions were rubbish?

    If you guys all want solar panels then how about you pay for them yourselves rather than expecting the tax payer or electricity consumer to keep providing handouts. You do realise that eventually other people get sick of paying for your free ride in life, don’t you?

  4. David Hand

    Mike,
    I accept that your view of extreme weather event increases is widely held. Extreme weather has entered the rhetoric of the cl imate lobby since it started raining in about 2009. Before that it was the message, peer reviewed and massivel y endorsed by the scientific community of course, that drought was Austral ia’s future under global warming.

    I have no issue that the world has warmed in the last 50 years. So I can reasonably expect that as Flannery et al are now pointing to extreme weather events and their frequency as proof of cl imate change, there will be a study, a statistical anal ysis that shows recent events to be non random with a high confidence level.

    Maybe you could point me to the study that supports the new improved extreme weather event narrative?

    One thing is absolutel y true. Extreme weather reporting has grown massivel y when you appl y the adjective to “reporting”, rather than “weather”.

  5. Hamis Hill

    Technologies already proven in “green” high rise buildings will eventually go domestic.
    Just as dishwashers were once only found in hospitals and used for disinfection as much as cleaning.
    And Abbott is an idiot.
    All inarguable, really.

  6. John Bennetts

    DH: Re extreme weather events.

    Imagine the traditional bell curve representing normal distribution of events. The peak is in the middle. It is also the average.

    Increase the average temperature, but also increase atmospheric water and increase the probability of extreme wind events, because they come hand in hand with temp rise.

    The bell curve elongates – its standard distribution increases. Weather extremes of all kinds increase. More extreme high temps, but also some increased low temps. More high winds, but also periods of great calm. And so forth.

    Climate change due to rising global average surface temperatures is happening; it is real. It is accompanied by extremes at both ends of the scale.

    However, as in the above example, note that globally the number of record high temps is significantly higher than the number of record lows, due to the mean rising.

    I hope that by this short essay you will come to understand why it is entirely to be expected that climate change will be associated by such things as the occasional North American cold winter. It stands to reason and is in no way surprising. This, despite the fact that the world is slowly being cooked by its inhabitants.

  7. TheFamousEccles

    ” You do realise that eventually other people get sick of paying for your free ride in life, don’t you?”

    This to me is the right-wing of Australian political discourse, encapsulated. This nagging certainty that everyone in the country is getting something they don’t deserve, except for them.

  8. DIY_Sunrise

    So global warming has become ‘climate change’ because the planet has not warmed as predicted.
    Warming is supposed to move the middle of the bell curve up but apparently it flattened it out instead.
    Science by pronouncement courtesy of John Bennets.
    (please show us some workings from your quantitative model John. I would just like to see how you have managed to model something as complex as the climate of a planet. I am looking forward to being enlightened by someone who can do the impossible.)

    Eccles, do I take it then that you feel you have an entitlement to the taxes of others (of all political sides)?
    There are plenty of low wage non-right wingers who object to paying extra for their electricity just so that Eccles the trendy inner-ciyt leftie can have a couple of ‘right on’ solar cells on his roof which he can admire occasionally from the plane as he jets off to another eco-conference in Tuvalu.
    It is not everyone in the country getting something they don’t deserve, it is a small group of self serving idealogies who happen to have latched onto the latest fad and are able to con government for tax money. It won’t last forever and when the tide turns these poxy solar panels will mark houses down as belonging to the parasite class.

  9. Mike Flanagan

    David;
    Thanks for your response. Perhaps if we had not ridiculed our scientists some twenty odd years ago and reacted in a mature and sensible manner at the time we would be well down the road today of mitigating our emmissions of harmfull carbon molecules.
    But the fact is we have bowed to the demands of our industries that are the primary source of these biosphere imbalances.
    The geological store of these materials is both abundand and given the wrong circumstances will be released back into the atmosphere. Tipping points!
    Evidence is growing in the Artic of geyser of CH4 being released.
    The warming of the northern tundras will activate naturally stored GHG to add to our biosphere
    dilemmas and will pose a threat to not only create a cascading series of releases but will prove to be beyond any chance of humans control or affect.
    The best our scientists can offer at the moment is a plan to hold our store of CO2 at about 450ppm and adapt to resultant 2 degree increase in the planets temperature.
    That,by itself is going to require major changes to our means of production and our current lifestyles.
    Over the past few years, under restricted GDP growth in most of the world, we have been increasing our deleterious emmissions by 3% pa and are quickly approaching our 450ppm projections.
    Ocean temerature are rising, acidification is occurring now and if we continue our ‘business as usual’ it will become a problem beyond our resolution.
    So the debate maybe, to some, becoming shrill but the enormity of the problem we are creating by our inaction and tentative approaches will have a devastatinf effect on us and future generations.
    David, we will make mistakes in our efforts to resolve the challenge but it is the alacrity and efforts we apply ourselves to its’ resolution that will define our generation’s sense of responsibities to future generations and the planet’s future.

  10. Paddy Forsayeth

    DIY is being silly and shows ignorance about statistics, modelling and bell curves in particular. What J Bennetts said has nothing to do with climate modelling. He simply asserted (correctly) that the mean of the bell curve is moving to the higher end of the curve, not UP in the sense of the vertical axis.Hence DIYs stupid assertion that the bell curve flattened…with the implication that bennetts and Co. have got the climate change thing back to front is inane and incorrect.
    Incidentally, most of the people I speak to do not understand the difference between heat and temperature. Sadly the climate debate often is based on scientific ignorance.

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