climate denialism
Then treasurer Scott Morrison brandishing coal in the House of Representatives in 2017 (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Australia isn't the only country where coal-fired power stations are shutting down, investors are reluctant to build new ones and there are concerns about the stability of the power grid as renewables dramatically expand. The United States has a similar problem. Only, for the Americans, the shutdown of coal-fired power has been driven not by regulatory uncertainty about climate action but by the surge in shale gas production, the availability of gas-fired power plants and the failure of energy demand to resume its healthy pre-financial crisis growth.

But the current presence of a self-proclaimed saviour of coal in the Oval Office has done nothing to change the investment environment for coal-fired power. Total new projects for coal-fired power are a fraction of the capacity that's been shut down in the last five years, and some of those projects are on hold. As one investment analyst told Scientific American, "environmental risk might not be a risk for four years, obviously referring to the presidential administration, or eight years. But when you're building 30- to 50-year-type assets they're certainly a high risk for carbon."