This post originally posted at the Climate Spectator. View the original post here. The Australian Financial Review’s Phil Coorey has gotten everyone running scared with his report today, ‘Abbott’s plan to axe the RET’. The suggestion is the government’s intention … Continue reading Warburton not extreme enough for Abbott?
Meridian Energy Australia’s previously delayed Mount Mercer Wind Farm in Victoria nears completion as the forthcoming Renewable Energy Target (RET) review cools industry confidence.
64 wind turbines with a collective capacity of 131 megawatts will be added to the National Electricity Market by midyear thanks to Meridian’s $260 million dollar investment outside of Elaine, Victoria.
The project will result in carbon dioxide emissions reductions of more than 400,000 tonnes per annum, and once complete, according to The Courier, “will generate enough renewable energy to power almost 100,000 homes – or the whole of Ballarat”.
Thus far the development has created more than 250 temporary jobs since construction began in 2012, and will produce a further 20 permanent maintenance positions for the life of the farm. But whether or not such benefits will be able to spread elsewhere relies for now on the outcome of July’s 2014 RET review and any doubts it might seed. Continue reading “RET Watch: Mt Mercer a RET success but future developments suffer”
By Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth’s campaigns coordinator explores Australia’s new political landscape in an article published by Chain Reaction – Friends of the Earth’s national magazine. Find other thought-provoking articles and support Friends of the Earth by subscribing to Chain Reaction.
The following is a brief assessment of possible trajectories in environmental politics under the federal Coalition government, specific areas where the Coalition can be expected to act, and a summary of some of the key players in the new political landscape.
The first Tea Party government?
John Howard was never an advocate for climate action. Yet we face something different in Tony Abbott. A lot of water has passed under the bridge of conservative politics since Howard’s days. If we want to see what an Abbott government might mean for the environment, we would be well advised to look to the US, where a highly ideological Tea Party movement continues to drive government agendas. Think Sarah Palin, not John Howard.
It seems clear that this government will start to dismantle 40 years of environmental progress and modernisation, as approvals for major projects are passed to the States and Territories. Tony Abbott calls this cutting ‘green tape’. In the real world this means more coal mines, more gas rigs, and more port facilities on the Great Barrier Reef.
Mr Abbott has long said that his first actions as PM will include the dismantling of the carbon price. What is surprising is the speed at which he is enacting his agenda. There are a considerable number of senior Coalition MPs with profound dislike of all things green. This may manifest as vindictive actions, like the expected lock out of environmental NGOs from government access.
This Tea Party approach is a strategic error. Playing to the climate sceptics and anti-greens will not win fans amongst soft green Liberal voters. It also runs the risk of alienating sections of the business community. For example, if Mr Abbott shuts down the wind industry, he is depriving farmers of reliable income and removing jobs from regional Australia. In short, if this government goes hard against everything green, it will damage the economy at the same time.
When we look at the Coalition’s recent record, we can see they have been forced to keep the facade that they will take action on climate, yet the Direct Action Plan will deliver very little in terms of emissions reduction. It is little more than a slush fund for farmers and the tree plantings by his Green Army will not be a panacea for our rising greenhouse emissions. The anti science agenda suggests that the Coalition is not controlled by economic rationalists any more, because of the evidence that it is willing to protect fossil fuels and mining at any cost. Continue reading “Election aftermath: Full speed in reverse”
The newly elected Abbott government renewable energy policies have the sector and environment groups worried. It has committed to review the RET, impose real-time sound monitoring at wind farms, and conduct another study in wind farms an health.
According to Crikey, which conducted a survey of sitting Liberal party MPs in September, the Coalition draws new-blank support for wind farms. Only one Liberal MP, Warren Entsch, is on the record with a clear position of support for wind energy. Others such as Minister for Environment Greg Hunt and Minister for Energy Ian Macfarlane are ‘on the fence’. Leading progressive Liberal Malcolm Turnbull ‘shows promise’ but could try harder.
Retired Liberal Senator and wind energy champion, Peter Rae (AO), presents a model for the newly elected Abbott government. At the All Energy conference in Melbourne, Rae said Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt understands the importance of wind energy. Rae says the Liberal party have a legacy of supporting world-leading renewable energy policies. Rae hopes this tradition will be upheld. Continue reading “Pollie Watch: It’s not impossible to be a Liberal and support wind farms”
Crikey has conducted a survey of sitting Coalition MPs on the issue of wind energy. The news service has found just one pro-wind energy MP in the government’s ranks, Leichhardt’s Warren Entsch. Reporter Andrew Crook notes: “It seems like Entsch is to wind as Julie Bishop is to women among senior Coalition ranks.”
At the weekend, the Australian Greens released the second tranche of its Clean Energy Roadmap. The plan addresses a critical gap in Australia’s energy policy architecture and would help drive the shift to 100 percent renewable energy.
The Clean Energy Roadmap deals with a key shortcoming of the Gillard Government’s carbon price–namely, the lack of support for enabling infrastructure.
Building new transmission lines to renewable energy hotspots does not directly reduce emissions, therefore, such projects do not benefit from the carbon price or offset markets. The critical infrastructure is also beyond the capacity of the private sector due to high capital costs and the lack of short-term profitability. The Greens call for public investment and long-term vision would open up new regions for sustainable development.
The Greens have continued their national leadership on energy policy by announcing a Clean Energy Roadmap to get Australia to 100 percent renewables. The intervention is an attempt to spark a debate about energy policy in the lead up to the looming federal election.
In an opinion article published by RenewEconomy, Greens leader Senator Christine Milne makes the case for a national roadmap. Milne cites studies by the Australian Energy Market Operator and University of New South Wales which find it economically and feasible for the national grid to be powered entirely by renewable energy. Senator Milne makes her case:
“The cheapest way to decarbonise the electricity sector is to plan the transition early and build the right energy infrastructure in the right place at the right time. To avoid wasting time and money on investments that don’t adequately address climate change, we need a roadmap.”