Climate deniers win the day as Libs kick Abbott down the road

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Tony Abbott survives – but may only give the Far Right enough time to find a new leader to prosecute their case. That’s bad news for climate and clean energy policies, as one international company confirms its portfolio of large-scale solar projects is effectively worthless under current government.

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Tony Abbott survives – but maybe only to give the Far Right enough time to find a new leader to prosecute their case. That’s bad news for climate and clean energy policies, as one international company confirms its portfolio of large-scale solar projects is effectively worthless under the current government.

Well, Malcolm Turnbull will not be in a position to save the renewable energy target after all. At least, not quite yet.

Hopes for a quick resolution to the policy gridlock that has stymied nearly $20 billion in renewable energy investment in Australia, and neutered its emissions reduction efforts, have been frustrated.

The Far Right has won the day in Canberra. International investors looking that $20 billion in large scale clean energy in Australia will now have to bide their time, or spend their money elsewhere.

The vote among Liberal Party MPs on Monday morning means Tony Abbott gets to stay in power, at least for a few days, weeks or months. But it underlines the huge divisions within the party between the traditional Liberals and the conservative Far Right.

The result showed 39 voting against Abbott. If the ministers stayed loyal, that means 2/3 of backbenchers wanted change, around the same proportion as the electorate. Team Abbott is no more. And, as Abbott himself suggested of Julia Gillard when she faced a similar vote, he has no mandate to govern.13-08-04_abbott-pc

The short-term reprieve for Abbott means that the conservative rump of the party has time to find another person to prosecute their case, and to complete the IPA’s check list of Things To Do To Australia. They know that Abbott is neither a long- or a medium-term proposition. A replacement, perhaps Scott Morrison, needs to be groomed for power.

This bodes badly for climate and clean energy policies in Australia, unless the moderates within the party can find a voice, and a candidate willing to declare himself thus. The ACT government’s wind energy auction announced last Friday illustrates what can be achieved: an ambitious goal, stable and sensible policy, and a heap of investment.

Unless Queensland and Victoria can adopt similar schemes, there is nothing left in Australia for those who missed out. It seems unlikely now that the Abbott government will be bothered to give any ground on its determination to reduce the renewable energy target to a shadow of what is currently legislated.

That is having a huge impact. Australia’s biggest project developers, Infigen Energy and Pacific Hydro, have ceased investing in their home country, and face financial problems. A Reuters report over the weekend highlighted the dilemma facing international companies. This is particularly the case with wind farms, but also with large solar developments.

Canadian Solar last week bought Recurrent Energy, a US company that has a 1.2GW portfolio in Australia of large-scale solar projects. But it basically paid nothing for it; a spokesman said that it came as a “free option” because of the policy uncertainty. The $265 million price tag was for the US portfolio.

Essentially, Australia’s renewable energy policy has rendered one of the largest renewable energy portfolios in the country worthless.

As we wrote last week, this is the last hurrah for the far Right. An energy revolution is sweeping the world, most people get it, but the conservatives don’t.  As Greentech Media’s Energy Gang discussed last week, they still see solar (and wind) as a big green boondoggle promoted by a liberal politicians to benefit rich environmentalists.

“But for a growing number of libertarians and conservatives, solar is seen as a tool for promoting competition in electricity markets and empowering consumers,” Greentech Media noted.

Apart from Malcolm Turnbull, who hailed the onrushing energy revolution that will be delivered by solar, storage, electric vehicles and smart technologies that will connect all these things together, this energy revolution hasn’t filtered its way through to Australian conservatives yet, despite the fact that Australia is at the cutting edge.

It has the highest per capita rooftop solar penetration of any country, the best solar resources, and the most expensive delivery system of ageing centralised fossil fuels, thanks to its massive over-investment in a big, dumb grid.

The problem for Australia is that we also have a big, dumb Conservative establishment, typified by the voices we see in the Murdoch media.

Columnist Tim Blair on Monday captured the terror of the Far Right that the country might be drawn to the political centre. He described Turnbull as a “warmy” because he accepts the science of man-made climate change and as a “climate clown”, because he supports policies to reduce emissions.

Of course, Blair thinks this will lead to “economic ruin”. Andrew Bolt says Turnbull, a very rich investment banker, is too far to the left, and frets about Turnbull’s “global warming alarmism”

It would be laughable if this were just the rantings of a few whacky commentators, but they represent core policy in the Abbott government.

Key advisors such as Maurice Newman and Dick Warburton share the same views and have said as much. Infrastructure guru Tony Shepherd and banking advisor David Murray share similar misgivings about climate science, hence Australia will continue to build the “roads of the future” and infrastructure for thermal coal mining ventures”, and will do nothing about the systemic risk of “unburnable carbon”.

Corey Bernardi, who epitomises the fear that the country could be compromised by supporting such “radical” concepts as climate action and gay marriage, suggested the party was better off sticking to the conservative line, even if it meant oblivion at the next election.

That seems to be exactly what has transpired. As one commentator noted on the ABC website: ‘The Ship has elected to go down with the Captain.’

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20 Comments
  1. John McKeon 4 years ago

    Today I have signed up for a solar hot water system in our new home. The last solar hot water system that served us for 20 years without hassle in our previous home is still functioning last I heard. Tomorrow I’m signing up for solar PVs all over our north facing roof section. The COALition is crap.

    And watch out Labor. I don’t vote for you either.

    • Concerned 4 years ago

      Weird stuff ?What has that got to do with anything?

      • John McKeon 4 years ago

        Action against climate change has been delayed – dangerously – for two decades by the fossil fuel lobby. They and their political puppets in the COALition (represented by prime minister Tony “Climate science is crap: coal is good for humanity” Abbott) and the Labor party (remember Martin Ferguson) are just outrageous pits of stupid self interest and tribal “We’re better than them” sentiment. Australia and the world cannot afford to wait for these pricks to catch up. Now that I can afford to ween myself off coal fired electricity to some extent, I’m doing so, partly in outraged protest at the ongoing in-action. Damn the lot of them.

        • Mark Jackson 4 years ago

          Fantastic post here John, and the other one of yours before it.

          Yep, plenty of that type of evil-smelling stooge in Australian politics. Murrun Fungusson, and former Woodside Energy executive Gary Gray, amongst others. The same Gary Gray who started that global warming denial organisation, the “Lavoisier Group”.

          As mates of mine have said before, political corruption is the dark force behind all our policy problems including global warming, and the Coalition and Labor are the biggest practitioners of that corruption in Australia.

          And I couldn’t agree more about how stupid the tribalism is as well. Bunch of people who vote and support Labor, for instance, with no real reason they can offer for it except that their parents did, and because the Labor Party’s a big party.

          The best hope of ending the corruption and getting the kind of action we need on global warming, and so many other things, is the Greens.

      • John McKeon 4 years ago

        As for “weird”, I think Tony Abbott is weird. And he has no clue, no vision.

        • Sidney Matthews 4 years ago

          John you say a lot but you say nothing.We all know the coalition is crap but doing nothing doesnt help we only have two major parties which can win Government and we have to choose wisely

          • John McKeon 4 years ago

            To Sidney and all readers of this forum, I urge you to understand fully the power of your vote at election time. Despite the constraints and failings of our electoral system your vote does NOT have to have a “1” against one of the “major” parties to be fully counted. Even if you put both of the “major” parties last and second last (in whichever order) your vote will be counted right through to that final decision. [Neither of the “major” parties is interested in helping you to understand this. But believe you me, you can make your vote more influential if you do as I recommend.]

        • Mike Shurtleff 4 years ago

          Spot on! Vote with your pay check. Take your money away from the puppet masters. This is my philosophy as well.
          Your detractors are clueless here.

          The political systems in Australia and the US are corrupt and misguided. They no longer properly represent the people. Time for a recalibration. Distributed Solar PV and Low-cost Storage will change things, is already changing things, on the energy front. Damn the lot of them is right.

          Here in the US, we have Obama now, but we could trade places with you in the 2016 elections. We already have a majority of large corporate, fossil fuel puppets in our Congressional House and Senate. Same thing will happen here if they do win. They will lose the renewable energy war anyway, just at Abbott is. “Money talks” is now on the side of renewables. Tar and feather the opponents and run’em out of town on a rail. No kindness. They are scum.

          Purchasing the technology (Solar PV, Storage, EVs/EREVs) is just as important as voting.

      • Alan Baird 4 years ago

        Oh it’s Mr Concerned 4 Coal again. So much better to burn some coal into the sky to heat water than collect heat from the sun. That’s SO weird! Mmmmm! Breathe in those aromatic coal tars and CO2. Clears the nostrils… but NOT obviously the BRAIN. If you think it’s ESSENTIAL to burn coal to make hot water rather than using the sun, you’re inhabiting a separate reality. A really intently stupid conservative one.

        • Concerned 4 years ago

          Who mentioned coal?By the way,I have SHW and PV,and have had for many years.
          Nobody is stopping ,you and the subsidies are still there to support middle class welfare.
          I was paid $900 towards my replacement SHW system last week.
          No subsidies for coal.

    • James Moylan 4 years ago
      • Mark Jackson 4 years ago

        Vote Green for renewables, yeah. And so many other reasons too.

        http://greens.org.au/
        https://www.facebook.com/Australian.Greens

        • John McKeon 4 years ago

          Yes, I agree, Mark. A vote for the Greens is a vote for renewables. The Renewable Energy Party I’ve never heard of before, but they may well be genuine. Check them both out on the web and ask them some questions.

  2. lifeboatman 4 years ago

    Abbott claims that by retaining him as the PM, the liberals are preventing themselves from going down the same path as the previous Labour government. The recent Queensland State election would indicate the complete opposite. This mornings decision has just put their Goose in the oven, it should be nicely roasted by the time of the next election.

  3. phred01 4 years ago

    All my friends that voted for Toxic Tony are now reaping broken promises will vote him out nxt time. TT claims that Australians voted for him and the voters are the only ones that can dump him. The budget hasn’t been completely passed yet & the nxt one is on the horizon. Govn’t debt has doubled since taking office. TT has quiet a number of double dissolution triggers……bring it on. There seems to be plenty of money for subs & planes TT will last until just after NSW up & coming state election

  4. Cooma Doug 4 years ago

    Seems Tony has started to give the truth a go. His lips were moving but no lie when he said, “we are not labour”.

    Another thing I noticed is the fact that they will continue their plan of stopping things. They might start something like they might start to stop a few more things

  5. john 4 years ago

    It is abundantly clear that RE is going to be the best option for energy delivery going forward. While we have an old and not very well performing fleet of gen sets in place when they come up for renewal they will be replaced by cost effective RE solutions.
    Going on the recent experience in England with nuclear on a cost effective basis it would appear that that is not going to be an economic solution.
    If we wish to establish such an industry; like all the rest have for military reasons; then I do not think this will fly in Australia.
    In the interim we have $45B in poles wires and control station systems that is now worth considerably less, and is a cause of price rises to consumers that is a headache to the States that put this essential service in place.
    At the time of the investment not enough knowledge was evident in the decision making process; this is not unusual when techno change is happening.
    It is a sad commentary to realise that in America some of the states are bounding ahead with adoption, even though there is a large number of very well funded groups that try to stop, disrupt and hinder any movement in this area.
    Economic realism will in the end come into play and this period of hindrance will be looked back on as such wilful ignorance and be derided.
    I would not like to be in anyway aligned with any movement that is going try to stand in the way of progress.

  6. onesecond 4 years ago

    Vote Green. Every vote for them will send Labour and the other parties scrambling to renewables even if the Greens stay in opposition.

  7. wideEyedPupil 4 years ago

    “The problem for Australia is that we also have a big, dumb Conservative establishment, typified by the voices we see in the Murdoch media.”
    So true, Giles.

  8. Raahul Kumar 4 years ago

    The wife and I are ecstatic about this decision. Face it, even a Malcolm Turnbull Liberal Party would still be the Liberal Party. Nothing would change just because the captain’s different.

    But with Tony in charge, the Liberal Party is likely to lose big in the next election if he survives. Even if he doesn’t, the infighting that will result will still hurt the Liberals. All possible outcomes are pretty bad at this point.

    I would rather that Labour win, but be reliant on the Greens to govern. That is the best possible outcome for the environment, and going by current polling numbers, it seems that will happen.

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