15/08/2012 - 10:56

Power politics too tough for government

15/08/2012 - 10:56


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The federal government has some work to do if Australia is to meet its 2020 emissions and renewables targets.

The federal government has some work to do if Australia is to meet its 2020 emissions and renewables targets.

I WAS one of the 100 or so who attended a gripping lecture last month by Canadian author, Donna Laframboise, who visited Perth and three other capitals thanks to Australia’s oldest think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs.

Ms Laframboise’s latest book, The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert (2011), has angered many crusaders for anthropogenic global warming; they are deliberately ignoring it, hoping prospective readers don’t learn it’s available. 

Notwithstanding their boycotting of debate, the book presents an in-depth investigation by the insightful Ms Laframboise. She assiduously vetted the academic and research credentials, plus activist backgrounds, of contributors to what’s marketed worldwide as the ‘last word’ on alleged global heating – the United Nations-created International Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), which regularly releases reports called ‘assessments’.

Crucially, she’s named the key so-called ‘expert’ compilers and reveals their meagre qualifications, which fall way short of making them the ‘best qualified’ on climate questions as IPCC controllers allege.

She’s also documented the cosy links between the IPCC and World Wildlife Fund personnel, showing the IPCC process is infiltrated by the WWF.

Log on to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGPqV_Fwo4Q if you missed hearing her.

You’ll also hear Ms Laframboise  referring to University of Colorado professor of environmental studies, Roger Pielke, who calls Australia ‘fantasy island’, because of the Gillard government’s decision to attempt to supply one fifth (20 per cent) of Australia’s total annual energy output by 2020 from non-coal methods, primarily wind and solar. 

This comes with a decision to enforce a cut in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 5 per cent below 2000 levels, also by 2020.

All that’s justified by claiming people will slash their power usage because the cost of coal-fired generating will be markedly boosted by the tax.

But Ms Gillard then promptly back-flipped on all this by offering compensation payments to those seen as electorally crucial for Labor’s re-election, and gave out bigger handouts to targeted CO2-emitting industrial complexes so they can remain operational, since shutdowns mean job losses. 

What we’ve thus been bequeathed with these contradictory policies is a huge tax-and-spend bureaucratic recycling merry-go-round, called churning, with the crucially needed incentive for consumers to trim electricity usage not merely avoided, but nullified; the opposite to what’s claimed was essential if alleged heating of planet earth was to cease. 

Professor Pielke’s interest is assessing such futile and contradictory policies.

When it comes to Australia he doubts if we’ll sufficiently reduce dependence on cheap coal-fired electricity to meet the 2020 target of 20 per cent solar and/or wind power.

In his scientific paper ‘An Evaluation of the Targets and Timetables of proposed Australian Emissions Reduction Policies’, in Environmental Science & Policy 14 (2011) (at http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/2010.36.pdf) Professor Pielke wrote: “Australia would need to undertake a herculean effort comparable to the level of effort required to build and put into service dozens or more nuclear power plants by 2020 or thousands of solar thermal plants.

“Were this ‘level of effort’ to be expressed in terms of windmills or other existing technologies the magnitude would be equally daunting.

“When coupled with very aggressive efficiency and renewable objectives the level of effort is still enormous.

“Australia, of course, has no nuclear power plants and the technology is hotly debated, so even building one plant would be an enormous achievement.”

In a June 18 2012 article, Welcome to Fantasy Island!’, Professor Pielke wrote: “I have in the past given the title of ‘Fantasy Island’ to the UK for pursuing an impossible approach to carbon dioxide emissions reductions.

“Over the next week a much bigger island will take that title (yes, yes, it is a continent, but this is a fantasy!). 

“On July 1, Australia’s carbon tax comes into effect, which has already prompted a new round of cheering and critique.”

I realise Ms Gillard, with Greens coaxing, agreed to earmark more than $10 billion for several solar and wind farm projects. But they’re way below what’s required for 20 per cent supply by 2020 to be achieved.

When announcing the tax on CO2, the prime minister released a document titled, ‘Securing a Clean Energy Future’, listing several costly programs.

The first, costing $256 million, was called a Clean Energy Regulator, so a new anti-CO2 policing agency.

This is accompanied, for $60 million, with still unspecified moves to regulate so-called synthetic greenhouse gases.

And, for $25 million, a Climate Change Authority will be created. 

This entity, which (then senator) Bob Brown said would oversee what was called ‘upward flexibility’, presumably means using political power to boost the CO2 tax, and push-up the price of coal-fired electricity to force it out of the market.

Why yet another bureaucracy – the Climate Change Authority – when we’ve already have the unnecessary and costly Department of Climate Change?

Fourthly, there’s to be a further $341 million spent to ‘simultaneously offer incentives to generate a $100 billion renewable sector by 2050’.

And finally, the real whammy, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation – a green bank – to subsidise wind and solar generation projects for a cool $10 billion over five years, via cheap and commercial loans.

This suggests Treasury, meaning taxpayers, will guarantee loans for unviable, meaning subsidised, projects.

Now, as this column has consistently stressed, none of this is needed because CO2 is essential for all plant life.

It’s being highly deceptive calling CO2 a pollutant because it isn’t.

What the Pielke analysis does, and what Ms Laframboise has alerted Australians to, is that all the unnecessary taxing, spending, and subsidising is futile, since the goal won’t be reached.

This Gillard-Greens initiated exercise is one of utter waste, or, to use Professor Pielke’s term, a fantasy. 

It’s just one big double whammy loser that hasn’t a hope in Hades of attaining what it was ostensibly cobbled together to do; and there’s no sane or rational reason for setting about doing it anyway since CO2 isn’t evil or a pollutant.

But jobs will continue to steadily vaporise because ever-higher electricity costs will threaten industries, especially cement manufacture, oil refining, steel manufacture, and the emergence of strategically essential coal-to-liquid fuels manufacture.

The sooner the debilitating Gillard-Greens legislation, its resultant bloated rob-Peter-pay-Paul bureaucracies, and smoke-and-mirror subsidising trick are scrapped the sooner sanity could return to ‘fantasy city’, aka Canberra.



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