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Abbott Coalition kills hopes of ambitious climate change targets

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The Abbott Coalition government has further entrenched its position against any ambitious climate change targets, describing the recommended trajectory by the Climate Change Authority as “staggering”, and continuing its three-word slogan attack against Labor’s policies, and the prospect of more wind farms.

Abbott has already delayed the release of Australia’s post 2020 targets until August, potentially slowing down what others have described as good progress in the lead up to the key climate change talks in Paris later this year.

But any hopes that the proposal will be beyond the bare minimum that the Abbott government thinks it can get away with have again been dashed by comments from Abbott and his team over the last few days.

Abbott on Monday declared that Labor’s endorsement of an emissions trading scheme and a 50 per cent renewable energy target was an “electricity tax scam” that would hit consumers for decades.

“Then you’ve got this massive and unnecessary commitment to renewables which will cause a massive overbuild of wind farms, all of which has to be paid for by the consumers,” Abbott told reporters. Abbott’s dislike of wind farms is well known.
His comments follow those of environment minister Greg Hunt over the weekend, when he described the emission reduction trajectories put forward by the CCA as “staggering”.
The CCA – an independent body created by Labor that Abbott and Hunt have tried to dismantle – suggested that Australia needed a target of a 30 per cent cut by 2025, and suggested a range of 40 per cent to 60 per cent cuts by 2030.

The Coalition has tried to ignore the CCA’s reports, and it bypassed the authority when conducting its review of the RET. It picked its own controversial panel and made no response to the CCA’s findings.

There is little love lost between the two groups. The CCA has branded the current 5 per cent reduction target for 2020 as totally inadequate and suggests Australia should have a target of at least 19 per cent, noting that it has a large overhang of Kyoto credits.

Hunt said the CCA targets are unmatched by any other country in the world. That’s not quite true. This first graph shows the CCA’s 2025 targets (compared to 2005 levels) and how it matches with other countries.

cca effort
And this shows how the 2020 and 2030 targets match. As CCA chair Bernie Fraser said Australia is starting a long way behind, courtesy of doing virtually nothing in the last 20 years.
cca targets 2The Abbott government, however, is holding on to the Kyoto targets as “proof” that Australia is doing as much, if not more than other countries. It is the only developed country not to have done so, in what seems to be advance warning of Australia’s intransigent position at the Kyoto talks of 1997.

“Not only have we met and beaten our Kyoto I targets, but we are well on track to meeting and beating our Kyoto II targets,” said Hunt, who once described Australia’s emission reduction efforts to date as Australia’s “gift to the world.”

As Clive Hamilton, a director of the CCA, pointed out last week, Australia has done virtually nothing to meet its Kyoto targets. From 1990 to 2012 Australia’s emissions from all sources except land-use change and forestry grew by 28 per cent. “Australia did very little but still met its Kyoto target. It could hardly miss,” Hamilton noted.

The Coalition, which has removed the carbon price and slashed the large-scale renewable energy target, has also directed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to cease financing wind farms and rooftop solar.

Labor was urged to adopt a 50 per cent emissions reduction target along with its 50 per cent renewables target, but ducked the issue. It has, however, pledged support for the CCA, the CEFC and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

One Victorian Coalition MP, Sarah Henderson, has broken ranks on that position, saying the CEFC should be encouraged to support offshore wind and battery storage technology. She said voters in her electorate were “extremely supportive” of renewable energy. Polls indicate that support is country-wide.

Meanwhile, the Murdoch papers have fallen in lock-step with the government on Labor’s climate policies.

In an editorial on Saturday, The Australian lamented the “economic illiteracy” of “digital first” publications.

“Labor is cheered on by a range of economically illiterate pundits in “digital first” publications and the twittersphere,” it said, adding, apparently in the hope of a Copenhagen repeat in the UN climate talks: “Perhaps agreement on targets will disappear after November’s Paris summit.”

Abbott on Monday suggested that a 50% renewable energy target would cost $60 billion. He didn’t explain where he got that number. But like the rest of the world, even if it were true, it would pale into comparison to the fossil fuel subsidies.

According to the IMF, Australia’s subsidy to this sector to expected be around $A41 billion in 2015, or around 2% of GDP. Its estimate of global fossil fuel subsidies amount to more than $5 trillion a year.

Abbott didn’t stop there though. He said the cut to the large-scale renewable energy target to 33,000GWh from 41,000GWh still meant that Australia would have 23.5 per cent renewable energy by 2020 (including rooftop solar).

“That is more than enough,” he said. “The ETS …. might as well be called an electricity tax scam because that is what it is, an electricity tax scam that will be scamming the consumers of Australia for years and years and decades after it was to be put into place.”

Labor’s 50 per cent renewables target though, will not be met just through the mechanism of the “renewable energy target”. It will also likely include policies such as energy efficiency incentives, and closures of coal-fired generators, or even continued financing by the likes of the CEFC to create new asset classes.

The ACT has shown the way on how a 90 per cent renewable energy target can remain an “aspiration”, but can be supported by effective policies that create certainty for investment. And it will also be done with no net cost to consumers. But it can get away with that, because there is no fossil fuel industry (apart from the federal lobbyists) in the ACT.

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  • barrie harrop

    Aust at 100% renewable Abbott’s worst nightmare.

    • Dag Johansen

      Do it.

  • Keith

    Not sure who is advising the LNP currently, but it is hard to imagine that anyone who is literate could come up with the nonsense that they are spouting.

    At least they seem to be telling the truth about their position. That is a welcome change.

    • tokenpom

      ‘The bigger the lie, the more people believe it . . ‘

      • mick

        this gets interesting Goebbels advised hitler

    • mick

      funnily enough id like to approach peta credlin about this she aint stupid and she has the clowns ear

  • disqus_3PLIicDhUu

    The states need to go it alone and bypass these sad sycophants, who can’t accept the forecoming death of coal.

  • SM

    In a couple of weeks we’re going to find out what out nations carbon reduction contribution target is for 2030 and no amount of hyperbole from Greg Hunt is going to disguise the cost to the nation if we stick with the Direct Action con as our only policy.

    Why hasn’t the PM&C UNFCCC task force released the public submissions yet … what are they hiding ?

    • Rob G

      You have highlighted the exact reason why the LNP have delayed the target announcement. Can you imagine how difficult it will be to tell the voters that they will pay 60 billion plus via Direct action. There is no way around it for them, either they go for a tiny target and get pounded by all OR they admit Direct action will cost billions.

  • juxx0r

    Well at least Abbott is correct about the ETS. It’s a scam designed to bleed money out for the benefit of the financial houses.

    A fee-bate is a much better solution.

  • john

    Australia’s actions they stoped clearing land.
    They have some of the worst performing brown coal generators in the world.
    Their assets the best solar best wind and possibly some geothermal assets not even looked at.
    Some parts have tidal and wave energy to burn.
    The socially aware guidance is sadly lacking in the extreme.
    The outcome not exactly inspiring to put it politely.
    A fail give the country an F

    • wombat_7777

      China is adding more than australias total generating capacity *every day*.
      Australia has a base load of 18000 MW just to ( literally ) keep the lights on.
      Are you going to tell me when you have a loved one on the operating table and the wind stops blowing and their respirators stops, that you will still love renewables at that point?
      Reneawables are fine, as long as you dont need to run a country or an economy on them.

      You have a choice –
      (a) go nuclear. Pragamtic, pretty reliable, has a few waste issues.
      (b) Coal – proven and reliable, cheap, creates some pollution but not too bad.
      (c) Go all renewables – make power when the sun is out or wind is blowing and requires masses of land. No good system for storaging energy when energy sources are not available.

      I think ts worth pointing out that renewables are fine in fringe communities & communes, but no good ( yet ) in large scale economic entities like countries where relibale power is needed. I guess if youwant to crash our economy, you coiuld mandate 50% renewables and watch the economy come crashing down.

      I’d hate to be the person that publically calls for that – it would be a truly courageous decision.

  • mick

    starting to think that this crap is abbotts kpi s for his next job lobbying for chinese govt or some such

  • john

    The country has a problem.
    It has set up a very good grid that has shown that the introduction of RE has supressed the high price for power at peak demand timeframes.
    At the same time because of the long lead time for that build a cost overhang has resulted which is shown in higher prices for power.
    Graph

  • john

    Now look at the Graph it shows that those high price points and remember at huge demand points for a whole day would have yielded a lot of money.
    Ok take out from this is simple.
    Introduction of RE is beneficial to everyone economically beside the social rewards.

  • Alan S

    ‘…wind farms, all of which has to be paid for by the consumers’ Abbott told reporters.
    Indeed Tony. Not like the fossil-fuelled plants that are provide free of charge by the billionaire philanthropists who own our generation facilities.

    • john

      Tax payers built them some of which have been sold in fact 1 at least for $1 a bargain and possibly overpriced

    • john

      Exactly like you and i

  • john

    Just a late note for Australia.
    Australia’s Kyoto achieved absolutely {NOTHING} No energy efficiency measures, No mitigation of any kind.
    The only thing that was done was to lessen tree clearing.
    A slight help was gained by international efforts that rubbed off on the country by imports by more efficient cars and appliances the country did nothing.

  • Alen T

    When is the CCA’s report on an ETS due (unless I’m mistaken, was this not a condition of Clive Palmer’s support for Direct Action?)

    • Kath

      CCA draft report on emissions trading is due November 2015; final report on action Australia should take to implement the Paris deal is due June 2016.

  • Chris Fraser

    Somehow I keep forgetting to buy my Saturday copy of the ‘print media first’ The Australian newspaper. Still, I didn’t kill a tree or deny somebody their toilet paper for a day.

    • Miles Harding

      Even then, you could still use the paper in the loo, torn into squares and nailed to the dunny wall like we used to do. — beats reading it

      • Chris Fraser

        Good idea, although better to separate the lift-out tinfoil hat first … ouch

  • Nick Thiwerspoon

    This piece in The Saturday Paper ( https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2015/07/25/the-true-cost-green-energy/14377464002171) has BNEF’s lasted costings of different generations types in Australia:

    Wind $74 per MWh
    Gas base-load $92
    Utility-scale PV $105
    (New) coal-fired $119

    So wind and solar are already cheaper than coal. Moreover (from the same article), the average coal generation fleet’s age is 30 years, and coming to the end of their working life–as they close down, it will be cheaper to replace them with wind and solar.

    As so often, the government is dead wrong.

  • onesecond

    Abott is giving reckless stupidity a face. Or does he actually know what he is doing to Australia? Then he would be a psychopath.

  • johnnewton

    Will Shorten and his midgets be up to the Tsunami of lies about to be rolled out by the Murdoch claque?

    • riley222

      You’re not wrong about the Tsunami of lies. At least we know what to expect, forwarned is forarmed.
      Shortens best asset is the public distrust of Abbott. Thats not about to go away, scare tactics will bite but people are wise now to Abbott , his cronies and their real agendas.
      Thanks to those few strong Senators OZ has been saved from the worst effects of this bunch of idealogues and ratbags. Surely OZ will not risk trusting them again.

  • Jack Janssen

    Abbott must be suffering from brain cancer due to radioactive poisoning past down by mum when she was using skin cream in the early 50,s and can’t help it.

  • wombat_7777

    I have nothing against renewables at all. I do have an issue with the dodgy so-called “science” behind the CAGW myth. I think people needto keep in mind a couple of simple relaities with renwables (a) the sun doesnt shine at night (b) turbines kill a lot of wild life (c) Australia has a 18,000 MW base load at nigh at its lowest generating capacity
    Also – a glaring ommission of maintaining the existing oil paradigm – where is the hydrogen technology? Its all very well to sya “go electric” but electric cars are a joke – they are powerd by coal, will be for decades yet. Unless you covered all of tasmania in solar panels there is no way you could generate enough power to even run that state, let alone a whole country.
    I have no issues with coal – its a prgamatic solution and there are many technologies to remove a lot of the particulate pollution.
    Climate Change is a fraud – paying the UN billion sof dollars to solve a problem that doesnt exist. In real terms, CAGW is a trojan horse for Socialism. John Christy shot down the IPCC AR4 models with basic weather balloon and satellite observations – the sort of stuff a year 10 kid could do. Its a con. The onlyreason Abbott calls it what it is is because conservatioves can plainly see climate change is being used bythe Left to try and hijack democracy. All Abbott is doing is exposing the Lefts shannigans.

    • Alen T

      Tasmania is already effectively 100% RE, so no need to cover it in panels. China aims to 20% of its primary energy from RE by 2020, that’s a lot more than what would be needed to make Oz 100% renewable. I think people are well aware that the sun don’t shine at nights, but the experts (Engineers, Scientists..etc.) don’t see this as a major hurdle any longer, so relax and trust in the word of professionals and not in the word of politicians that have agendas and reasons to make you believe lies. PS look around the world at other countries and states, they often have more ambitious or higher RE shares than Oz, yet they still operate with a healthy economy.

      As far as anthropogenic global warming is concerned, I’d just like to remind you that there is no credible and peer-reviewed report disproving AGW, but there are mountains of evidence, reports..etc..and biggest off all, Logic, supporting anthropogenic global warming. Again, listen more to and believe the exports, not those with a clear interest to spread mis truths and plain lies.

      • wombat_7777

        “…..there is no credible and peer-reviewed report disproving AGW, but there are mountains of evidence, reports..etc..and biggest off all, Logic, supporting anthropogenic global warming.”
        Logic?
        Tell me – did they find proof of the mythical “hotspot”?
        And why has there been no temperature increase in 20 years? Surely if we have to take “urgent action” we could see a clear and constant temperature increase?
        Funny too how volcanoes can pump more CO2 into the air than we can reduce by not flying for a year.

        • Alen T

          You are misinformed again, the temperature never stopped rising. What you are probably referring to is the warming hiatus, which is centred on the Rate of temperature increases, and not a plain stop in temperature increases. 2001-2010 was the warmest decade on record. The WMO in 2014 stated that 13 of the warmest 14 years on record occurred in the 21st century, with 2014 now officially the warmest year on record. Numerous organisations are further predicting that 2015 will overtake 2014 and take the first place.

          Again, warming has Not stopped increasing at all, the consistent and continuous increases are well recorded, it is rather the slowdown and the rate of increases that has caused so many wet dreams by climate change deniers over this issue

          • Rod Campbell-Ross

            Alan T, I salute your patience and good manners. Communicating with wombats is never going to be easy, but Wombat _7777 really takes the cake. I guess reading the Daily Telegraph keeps one completely misinformed. Murdoch really does have a lot to answer for. He has wrought immense damage; and not just to Oz.

    • Alen T

      I forgot to mention, the UN does not conduct the research that makes up the evidence for the IPCC report, rather it purely compiles and summarises the information from the thousands of published reports on this subject matter. So the funding for the scientists, researchers and reports often comes indirectly from governments (e.g CSIRO), universities or other research organisations.

      As for the modelling you are referring to, I can’t comment on that persons findings, all I can say is to first understand what the principal and how the models are designed, before you jump to ill informed conclusions like “numerous medals proved to be wrong therefore all models are incorrect”. Most important point to remember here is that many of these (older) models/storylines were designed to be wrong from the START. Without a crystal ball, one can only make assumptions and ‘guesses’ about the future, so in order to get the best projections (modelling results) a wide set of information needs to be analysed, thus giving a more precise total uncertainty value.

    • Chris Clarke

      Several statements here are not correct. The technology to clean emissions from coal has not yet been developed. Wind Turbines do not kill a a lot of wildlife. Climate change is of course real. Ample evidence on each point in thousands of peer reviewed scientific journals.

      • wombat_7777

        Nonsense – the technology to clean coal power station output ( called scrubbers ) does indeed remove a lot of particulate from smoke stack emissions. Wind turbines do kill a lot of wildlife – The prominent US wildlife ecologist and ornithologist Albert Manville claims that as many as 440,000 birds are killed by existing wind turbines in the US every year.

        Climate change – see my comment about Dr John Christy’s submission to the US Senate Committe of Public works. In short he measured surface temperature and found an increase of 0.0-0.2C, this in comparison to the 0.4C – 1.2C predicted by the AR4 IPCC models.

        Put another way – it matters not if you fund 1000s of scientists to all come to the same ( wrong ) conclusion – wrong is wrong if a whole massive govt funded industry can be canned by one finding based on basic first-principals science.

        And another point – consensus is not science – science is theory, observation, conclusion. Its not “the science is settled” – that shuts down the debate. If a theory cant withsatnd basic science, its unsupportable and should be rejected…..climate change fits that definition.

        QED

    • Rod Campbell-Ross

      Sorry Wombat, but you are wrong. “trojan horse for Socialism” – this phrase explains everything we need to know about your motivation. So you think the science of climate change is fraud. What other science do you not accept? One or other of the physical sciences? Aeronautical science? Cancer Research? It is pathetic. Climate science is conducted like any other science; and constantly challenged within its own ranks. There are only 4 possible reasons anybody (including The dear leader) doesn’t accept climate science, they are Ignorance, Stupidity, Delusion and Dishonesty. I suspect in your case it is Stupidity. That is excusable, it is the way you were born. In the case of the dear leader it is dishonesty. He is not stupid, he is perfectly capable and he has access to the best advice. Therefore he is dishonest.

      • wombat_7777

        I can always tell I’m close to the truth when people come out swinging…..

        I have a conservative view of the world, and do not apologise for that. I have no opinon of individual politicians, but will comment on what they do.

        Now – Stupidity – I doubt it. I have a Hons in Science and years in industry that says I’m not dumb nor stupid. I also understand politics. I spent a lot of time in close proximity to all strands of politics , and got very good at picking polical operatives & Change Agents by their behaviour. I have spent time on the Hill too.

        From http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/021015-738779-climate-change-scare-tool-to-destroy-capitalism.htm

        “At a news conference last week in Brussels, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism.

        “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.”

        Why change a system that brings many benefits to people the world over? Certainly we can see how well starving people attest to the “success” of Socialist attempts at managing a country goes. Look at Cuba, Russia, and North Korea for fine examples of a broken economy and starving people. And further more – if capitalism – where people get to own their own homes, build their fortunes and provide for families, now who would want to overthrow it?

        So lets see –

        (1) there is no proof of catastrophic man made climate change – yes climate changes naturally all the time, but not on the hysterical scale claimed by the UN and the IPCC.

        (2) A basic solid scientific approach by Dr John Christy was able to show no perceptable temp increase in 20 years – perhaps the heat is hiding in the oceans?

        (3) a Dutch survey shows that 57% of sceintists didnt believe CAGW was real, vs 43% with your opinion. Not 97%, notice…..some light reading for you below in the foot notes.

        [1] Bart Strengers, Bart Verheggen and Kees Vringer (2015) Climate Science Survey, Questions and Responses, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, pp 1 – 39.

        [2] Bart Verheggen, Bart Strengers, John Cook, Rob van Dorland, Kees Vringer, Jeroen Peters, Hans Visser, and Leo Meyer. (2014) Scientists’ Views about Attribution of Global Warming. Environmental Science and Technology. DOI: 10.1021/es501998e, 2014.

        [3] Duarte, Jose (2014) Comment on “Scientists’ Views about Attribution of Global Warming”, Arizona State University, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2014, 48 (23), pp 14057–14058, DOI: 10.1021/es504574v

        There is an old maxim in Consulting circles – who pays the piper calls the tune.

        A consultant will write what you pay them to wrte for you. It depends on who is handing out the money as to what those with the cash, want the “audience” to hear.

        Love to hear your take on this…..