Now that dunderheads like the hateful Scott Morrison have been purged by the voter of Australia, that country’s obstruction of renewable energy initiatives is coming to an end — and not a moment too soon for Australia and the world!
On Friday, newly elected Prime Minister Peter Albanese addressed an international conference convened by US president Joe Biden and announced that Australia has now fully embraced the 2015 Paris climate accords by adopting a plan that will reduce the nation’s carbon emissions 43% by 2030 compared to 2004 levels. The Morrison government steadfastly refused to take meaningful action to reduce emissions, setting Australia back by almost a decade compared to other nations.
This Is What Climate Leadership Looks Like
Albanese’s climate change and energy Minister Chris Bowen told the Climate Change Investment and Finance Summit in Sydney this week that good climate policy was also good economic policy. “As we get on with unleashing investment, we will show that the world’s climate emergency is indeed Australia’s jobs opportunity.” He added that the government would seek to use Australia’s solar and wind resources, as well as skilled workforce and energy storage space, in order to become a clean energy export superpower.
“For too long, Australians had been led to believe that climate change posed a choice — the environment or the economy, the cities or the regions,” he told the summit meeting. “Good climate action can benefit us all because the truth is that good energy policy is key to good economic policy. Australia is under new management and Australia is open for business in the new global economy.”
David Skysbrook, co-founder and managing director of Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, told Australian Associated Press that Bowen’s statements were the “clarion call to action we have all been waiting for. Rather than being held hostage by the industry of yesterday, we must urgently move to create the industry of tomorrow and that’s where this government wants to take us. Lead on and all that new investment, jobs creation, and decarbonization we hope for will come speeding towards us.” He ended by saying, “This is what climate leadership looks like.”
An Energy Crisis In Australia
While Texas swelters in record high temperatures, parts of Australia are dealing with unseasonably cold weather that is straining the electrical grid. The Albanian government has suspended the nation’s energy market temporarily to help rein in wildly fluctuating energy prices. This week, Chris Bowen resisted calls to extend the life of Australia’s coal-fired generating stations as a stop gap measure to deal with the situation. According to The Guardianhe said the new Labor government believes further investment in renewable generation and storage is a better option.
Prime Minister Albanese said the energy crisis in Queensland and New South Wales, which has led to a call for residents to reduce their use of electricity, should be a “source of incredible embarrassment” for the previous coalition government. “You can’t fix a decade of inaction in 10 days. What you can do is to provide that certainty going forward, whilst dealing with the immediate pressures which are there,” Albanese told a Parliament House press conference.
The prime minister said the current situation had exposed “weaknesses” in electricity policy when asked about settings that could provide incentives for generators to price gouge. “All the lessons of what’s happening will be examined, and if there need to be any policy adjustments, they’ll be made,” he said. “This is a direct result of a failure to invest, of a failure to have an energy policy. As a result of that, we have the circumstances that [grid operator] is dealing with. What we’ve seen is a failure of policy that has led to a market failure.”
Bowen rejected a question about whether further investment in coal power would be a short-term fix. “The problem is there is not enough investment in renewable energy. There hasn’t been enough investment in storage,” he said.
Proponents of ousted leader Scott Morrison are claiming the energy crisis is the fault of the new government, which led to a rather testy response from New South Wales energy minister Matt Kean during a heated radio interview on Thursday. Kean blamed the situation on a “confluence of events” that led to the energy crisis. “I always take responsibility, but let’s be very clear. I didn’t invade Ukraine. I didn’t make the generators old equipment and I certainly didn’t make the weather cold,” he said.
Assistant climate and energy Minister Jenny McAllister framed the government’s updated climate goals as an important message for young people, saying the policies of the Morrison government’s had imperiled their future. “This is an important economic reform. It is also an important strategic reform. It matters a lot to our region. But for me, it is also a democratic reform. When I speak to young people in recent years, it has broken my heart to hear that they believe that the Australian government has failed them,” she said.
The Morrison government set Australia back nearly 10 years, just as the Trump maladministration set the United States back 4 years with its passionate embrace of fossil fuel companies. The difficulties of transitioning to renewable energy are enormous. Fossil fuels have provided the energy needed to power human civilization for more than 150 years. Their roots have permeated societies at every level.
But a simple analysis shows that renewables have a massive economic advantage over fossil fuels. The cost of “fuel” — sunlight — is zero. This allows energy producers and energy users to predict with great accuracy what the cost of electricity will be decades from now — something that is not possible with fossil fuels that are susceptible to the lunatic ravings of madmen like Vladimir Putin and the vicessitudes of armed conflicts.
The world won’t run out of sunlight for a few billion years but it will run our of coal, oil, and methane in the next century or so. And it will no longer be able to support human life long before then if we don’t stop relying on them as the basis of our economic system almost immediately.
A careful business person understands that spending money to solve challenges today is almost always cheaper than spending money to solve the same challenges later. Just imagine if that climate memo submitted to President Carter in 1977 had bee acted on then. By knuckling under to pressure from the fossil fuel industry, it has cost Americans trillions of dollars.
Kudos to Australia for overthrowing the despicable Scott Morrison contingent and setting a path to a low carbon future. It is proof of the old adage that if the people will lead, their leaders will follow.
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