Apr 12, 2017

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good climate policy

Australian climate policy has never been perfect. But having some policy is better than none -- and we can't freeload forever, writes Green Energy Markets' Tristan Edis.

My colleague Ric Brazzale and I have been involved in Australia’s energy and climate policy deliberations for several decades. Over our time we’ve seen -- and in a number of cases been directly involved in -- an array of weird, wonderful, downright ugly and utterly hopeless policy initiatives in the energy and climate space. Yet the key searing memory for both of us has been constant arguments with people more powerful than ourselves to get them to recognise a legitimate role for energy efficiency and renewable energy in our energy market.

Today we released a report lamenting, while also explaining, how Australia ended up with some the highest wholesale electricity prices in the industrialised world. We’ve achieved this miraculous feat while at the same time producing the developed world’s second most carbon polluting electricity in the world, second only to Estonia. And it has transpired after the Abbott government abolished the carbon price and wound back the Renewable Energy Target by a fifth. All done on the promise Australia would become a low-cost energy superpower.

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8 thoughts on “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of good climate policy

  1. Roger Clifton

    Thank you for implying that we must replace “coal and gas”, when most voices only decry “coal”. Shamefully, we are likely to be making excuses deep into the future for continuing to use gas. Gas useage as responsive backup will actually increase as renewable capacity increases. While we continue to make excuses, we will continue to be parasites on world efforts towards “net zero emissions”.

  2. bref

    I think we have all figured out by now that privatisation of our utilities has been a disaster. Forty years ago Britain, in a moment of clarity, purchased back all of its North Sea oil rights and reaps the benefits to this day. We, in contrast, have happily sold our utilities for (very) short term gain and are now saddled with punitive prices. The only way I now see out of my ridiculous power bills is to wait until the Chinese or Indians get stuck into copying and mass producing the home solar power systems now available for around $20k. The day is coming when I can purchase one for about $5k and tell the power corporates and by extension, the government, to go screw themselves…

  3. cartoonmick

    It’s a struggle. I guess it was a struggle to replace the horse and cart with the car, but it happened regardless of all the naysayers.
    And if we follow scientific advice, we’ll end up shutting down one industry (fossil fuel electrical power) and replacing it with a more advanced one (renewable energy electrical power). Problem ?
    Transformed over a decade or so, there’ll still be heaps of jobs for the ordinary person in this new industry, and the greedy profit gougers will just have to retool (or be replaced by new profit gougers).
    And a positive spinoff might just be a cleaner environment. Problem ?
    The last lump of coal in this 30 second YouTube vid  …  https://youtu.be/GiDtvjZJGeY

    1. bref

      Its interesting isn’t it, the angst around the coal issue. Even if Australia totally pulled out of coal power generation today, our exports would continue for many decades, so no jobs lost there (except through automation). Faced with ever reducing coal use worldwide, just maybe the coal industry would start ramping up their own research. I just don’t believe that some scientist out there can’t develop genuine clean-coal power generation, but I’m damned if I know why I (the tax payer) should fund it.
      In the mean time theres one form of 24/7 power generation that no-one is discussing much – wave power. Our own home-grown forerunner in this field would have to be Carnegie Wave Power based in Perth. Sight unseen, underwater, no impediment to shipping, able to be deployed around our coast, totally new industry with potential for substantial employment, several trial plants built – so where are they? Time to piss or get off the pot guys.

      1. cartoonmick

        Years ago, Carnegie had Fed Gov support to build a big unit off the SW coast of WA. Before anything was put in the water, the Feds pulled the pin on their support.
        So Carnegie built a smaller unit off the coast of Garden Island, 40K south of Fremantle. It’s currently supplying a lot of power to our Navy base on GI.
        Carnegie wanted Fed support for future units but could never bolt them down (ref. fiddling and Rome burning).
        So last year, tired of waiting for the Oz Gov decision making, they took up an offer from the Brits to build mega units off the south coast of England. So that’s where they are, they took their pot to England and now it’s overflowing.
        So much for the Oz Gov supporting Oz companies.
        So much for Growth and jobs.
        So much BS and spin.
        We should be so proud.
        I think this cartoon sums it up …


        1. bref

          Hate to see yet another Aussie company go overseas. On the other hand Carnegie needs to do some serious marketing as none of my friends and work colleagues have ever heard of them.

  4. bushby jane

    In I think 2007, Rudd should have had the support of the greens to create an emissions trading scheme, but didn’t because it was deemed by them to be less than perfect. Same story, history will I think not look fondly on that decision.

    1. AR

      Jane – this carnard about the Greens refusing to support Krudd’s bankers’ sheltered workshop ETS really needs to be nailed into a lead sealed coffin and buried deep, deep down along with Dodger’s 1gm pp pa of highly radioactive waste.
      Firstly, using his well known people skills Krudd refused to even ask the Greens for support for his shonky arbitrage employment scheme, relying instead on the spinal strength of that international banker par excellence, Talcum in his first incarnation as head bullshitter for the COALition.
      Secondly, it was the right wing in the bowels the Black Lubynaka in SussexSt who told Krudd to drop it or else.
      The ‘else’ is our sorry history since Gillard inexplicably threw in her soul to those evil bastards which gave us destabilisation (none dare call it treason for some unknown reason) and the Abbotrocity and now, the worst of all possible worlds, Talcum II.

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