Analysis: be criticised, make $1.1bn

"Oh please, hit me again!" That's what management at the ANZ Bank ought to be saying after a conservation movement attack yesterday backfired to the tune of a $908 million profit for the bank's owners.


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We have to start somewhere. Pulling funding or support from these organisations, for heavy polluting smog inducing coal fired power plants makes sense. If the rebates these companies were given were to be driven to green technologies, then we would be further along the path to a more sustainable energy source. Perth for example has the most regular wind force in the world, how many wind turbines do you see along the coast? The new micro generating turbines ( Barrel shaped ones ) were voted down by Perth council on the new developments around the city, because they were deemed unsightly, however microwave mobile masts pop up left and right without a thought or care, possibly due to the lease back paid by the operators?? The bottom line is and will always be "the bottom line" Coal is big business, big tax revenues and royalties. Australia needs to take the lead and develop the Geothermal generation,solar and wind that would supply her energy needs well beyond 2030 and start seriously looking at the nuclear option. This report was released last year, however it was glossed over due to the election.

Ivan, thanks for your views. However I disagree it makes sense to pull funding. I am yet to see any green power generating option: a) provide the required base load power for when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine; b) take into account the environmental cost of producing the materials required to generate that energy (eg solar panels and turnbines) c) generate so called green jobs that don't involve massive subsidies that cost the taxpayer more than the job is worth (eg Spain!) and in a quantity that offsets the job losses in other industries. d) overcomes the hypocrisy of the green movement - eg "You can't build wind turbines here because there is a couple of birds and a tree" or "We don't like nuclear power" - (but we don't have a rationale reason why). Seriously, the Greens are the ultimate BANANA's (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything). There are no doubt options that can be done - eg your option of micro turbines - and this should be encouraged (but not by tax payers paying over market feedback tariffs). But blanket cessation of funding of legal and legitmate enterprises that contribute a major portion of our economic and lifestyle well being is not it. I have decided to start a website to encourage people to write to ANZ and other major banks to cease providing banking services to the Greens as "I would like to know that my money, and the savings of other Australians, is not being used to drive dangerous climate change agendas propogated by the Greens".

Tim Threadgold's analysis is at best simplistic and at worst ignorant. The message is clear that we have to stop the planet smoking. Sure, there is no magic wand, but obviously if change is not supported then we perpetuate the current system. An end to the carbon economy is not idealistic... it is inevitable. Come on Tim... you can do better than that! At least try...

After reading it several times, this article seems to have no point except to provide a scant framework and flashy headline for the author to push his views that big business and the status quo must win out over climate change action else the economy will be “devastated”. Why not write an editorial and entitle it appropriately so I can choose to skip it? Take your point: "consider the fact that seven of the top 10 companies listed on the ASX have their corporate fingers into coal. BHP Billiton (No.1), Wesfarmers (7) and Rio Tinto (8) mine it. Commonwealth Bank (2), Westpac (3), ANZ (4), and National Australia Bank (5) co-fund it." Perhaps the lesson one could draw from that stat is not that it would devastate the economy if we were to introduce a carbon price, but that they're doing well enough on the back of the profit of carbon to be able to support a carbon price? To answer your question regarding what could be substituted for coal, there is nothing that artificially cheap that can be used as a substitute. Which why there needs to be a carbon tax on coal, to even the playing field so that in the short term less dirty non-renewable viable alternatives such as natural gas and biodiesel can be substituted, and in the medium to long-term and with retrofitting of plants over time, the renewables you mentioned. I emphasise that coal is artificially cheap because there is nothing built into the price that takes into account the impact that same piece of coal and the carbon it releases will have in the future that the government will need to tax me to fix – for example, extreme weather, cyclones, droughts, etc. I say gather the tax up front and at least attempt to mitigate the impact of climate change. One could also argue that the economy would be stimulated with a carbon price – a new trading market, new jobs, new businesses, training, new departments and activities to offset carbon that did not exist before. There is a growing non-mandated market for people with a carbon conscience: the optional offsetting of flights or smart cars, for example. The economy certainly won’t be “devastated” by moving to a price on carbon. Even if, as you say, a coal-free world weren’t possible (and I guess we will have to leave it to a future generation to find out whether everyone will actually curl up and die when the coal reserve runs out), that doesn’t mean that we should all give up the dream of living in a coal and carbon-reduced world. Surely we can agree on that? I would be such a proud Australian if we were to lead the way in this issue and introduce a carbon market. It’s the right thing to do and it’s the smart thing to do.

ANZ also helped to finance the first project financed wind farm in Australia in 2003. I am fully supportive of renewable energy, but would not want to face the prospect of low energy security because some greenies decide to pull funding from coal fired power stations. Currently 80% of Australia's energy is supplied by coal fired power. Any viable alternative energy source will have to replace this at an equal or lower cost.

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