Coal industry and Coalition’s fear campaign against renewables gaining traction

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New polling shows campaign by coal industry and Coalition against renewables is showing signs of gaining traction.

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The FUD  (fear, uncertainty and doubt) campaign against renewables by the Australian coal industry – one that has been eagerly prosecuted by the Coalition federal government – is showing signs of gaining some traction.

New polling from Essential Media shows that the support for government prioritising coal over renewables has doubled over the last three years (to 13 per cent), while support for the prioritisation of renewables has declined (from 50 per cent to 37 per cent).

While this shows that support for renewables is vastly superior to that of coal (separate polls show overwhelming support for individual technologies such as wind and solar, even among conservative voters), it does show that the coal industry is making ground.

“Coal is creeping up,” Essential Media’s Peter Lewis told the Smart Energy Council conference in Sydney on Tuesday.

“You (the renewable energy industry) are up against an industry that will do anything to survive … these results show a vote of approval for the strategy of muddying the water.”

The polling was released on Tuesday following a week that has witnessed an extraordinary new push by Coalition MPs for a new coal-fired power generator in Australia, and the government’s equally extraordinary attempts to intervene in the market and force AGL to either keep Liddell open, or sell it to a competitor.

Interestingly, even among Coalition voters, the support for prioritsing coal over renewables is low – just 19 per cent compared to 13 per cent for Labor and 3 per cent from The Greens (really?).

But Lewis says that the poll is a warning sign – both of the deep pockets of the fossil fuel lobby, and the success of their multi-million dollar TV campaigns, and influence over conservative politicians who happily repeat their talking points.

The coal lobby has been investing heavily in TV advertisements promoting HELE (high emissions, low efficiency) coal technology.

Lewis says this is the challenge for the renewable energy industry. “Are you going to let the coal club write the next chapter (of Australia’s policy)?

“You need to make sure the bad guys don’t win.”

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  1. Chris Drongers 2 years ago

    There is no campaign against renewables or a support campaign for coal, according to the front bench.
    So how about a real, concerted response from the ministries slapping down the coalers?
    The lettuce is getting limp.

  2. Roger Franklin 2 years ago

    Love your definition of HELE (high emissions, low efficiency) coal technology!! Nice

  3. Jon 2 years ago

    So Lewis is saying “You need to make sure the bad guys don’t win”

    That’s about as helpful as saying to someone “Don’t hurt yourself”.

    What actions does he suggest should be taken?

    • D. John Hunwick 2 years ago

      A public supported education campaign using posters, emails and car stickers

  4. john 2 years ago

    There has been every week in local media either an add or some article, which all have the words “affordable reliable base load” in the message all with the aim to discredit “wind does not blow and the sun does not shine”.
    The message is working.
    Knowledge is pretty poor about the direction that electricity production is headed.
    I had a good chuckle at the article by Simon Holmes à Court where the alternate and more accurate for the ginger groupe being Jaaack was outlined.
    Joyce, Abbott, Andrews, Abetz, Canavan and Kelly: JAAACK.

    Link to Article.

    • Ken Dyer 2 years ago

      The coal industry can go to HELE and take Jaaaack with them. Election now!

    • Simon Chance 2 years ago

      The likes of Gina Rinehart and Travers Duncan have very deep pockets.
      Deep enough to buy the government.

      • Ian 2 years ago

        If Gina is such a great business woman, I’m surprised that she hasn’t managed to get in on the solar action before she is left out to dry. Lang had the scruples I’m afraid.

  5. George Darroch 2 years ago

    You know what really bothers me:

    The complete absence of climate change from the debate. You can read an entire article about any of these coal power stations without a single mention of their emissions, or an article about the NEG which neglects the very reason we’re having this discussion.

    It’s very very strange.

    • Joe 2 years ago

      Here, here. You won’t read the words ‘climate change’ because that then invalidates any argument for continuing with FF. So they try a different path so onto price / cost. But here again the numbers don’t lie with solar and wind now cheaper than new coal and when a carbon price does come, ‘old coal’ will be dead as well.But even if a carbon price is years away as the old Coalers close down there still won’t be new Coalers being built. So what is the NEG all about then?

      • RobertO 2 years ago

        Hi Joe, The NEG is all about supporting coal. As a wind farm or Solar Farm you will need to buy security (BUY as in lots of Money) which will support coal (coal power generation may actually be running at a loss but because of the income from the NEG they will still be profitable for another 5 to 10 years after they should have closed). To me they are Collateralized Debt Obligations from the money markets, really valuable for the seller (coal power) and worthless to the buyer (wind or solar having to pay lots of money for something they do not need).

        • Joe 2 years ago

          The NEG…another subsidy for FF.

    • john 2 years ago

      It does not matter about Climate Change the economics speak for them selves RE is a better delivery of power and yes does not produce emissions after being put in place.

      • john, it DOES matter about Climate Change. We just won’t let on that’s the real reason for our support of renewables. Sadly, the vast majority of Australians are more concerned with their hip pocket nerve than saving the planet. Sad, but true. I found that out a long time ago. It’s a win/win for us now that renewables ARE cheaper, so we can shout that from our solar PV clad rooftops!!!! 🙂

    • Mark Roest 2 years ago

      You might consider joining Al Gore’s speaking force, getting trainings going or multiplied in Australia, and ensuring that everyone who needs talking points has the best available — and that everyone in the nation hears them. It complements the economic presentations, and should be done on separate occasions, or as complementary parts of teach-ins. By the way, get the students involved in both efforts!!! Harness their passion for truth and justice, and for the survival of our planet and all our relations!

  6. Mark Fowler 2 years ago

    I believe we are rapidly approaching the time when our main message should be “renewables will lower your power bill” and “storage is reducing the likelihood of blackouts” rather than “we must move to renewables to limit climate change”. While the second message is undeniably important and vital to the long term livability of our planet, it allows RE to be attacked on false claims of costs, unreliability and massive subsidies. The first message presents RE as a positive move in the battle over cost of living and limits attacks from climate change denialists who argue that there is no need to move to RE..

    • PLDD 2 years ago

      Mark – I agree. The coal industry and LNP’s primary message is about the price of electricity and the reason it is expensive is because of renewables.

      The coal industry ads that featured businesses bankrupted, and jobs lost by high power bills is a prime example.

      The battle needs to be won on economics alone. Reducing CO2 is a nice bonus when it’s won. Hard dollars and cents facts vs misinformation.

    • RobertO 2 years ago

      Hi Mark Flower, a lot of business are getting or have gotten the message. My school is getting 76 Kw solar (the erected the fences around the building last week. Yesterday and today they are working on the internal wiring. I did tell the accountant in front of the CEO that he would be knocking on his (CEO) door about 6 months after it was installed to ask for more solar. Our export will be zero Kwhr as we use 2200 Kw hr per day and sometime in the next month or so it will go up by 50 Kw hr per day.

      • Ian 2 years ago

        What state are you in and public ir private school?
        The NSW D of Education have low level support for PV. there is no incentive for schools to pursue it. One example : I was part of a 200kW proposal in a large Syd school with excellent financials and the Dof E canned it

        • RobertO 2 years ago

          Hi Ian, center of Sydney and independant school. I think Kings School at N Parramatta have 200 kw solar on roofs, and are aiming for more.

    • DevMac 2 years ago

      If you need to point people anywhere to demonstrate home solar savings, these are my household’s power bills from 2006 to 2016.

      Where 2015 has 1 quarter with solar power, and 2016 a full year.

      • Mark Roest 2 years ago

        Hello everyone, DevMac’s complete presentation is the answer to the question! Think about the climate training that Al Gore developed. Trained presenters go wherever they can find an audience and give a motivating presentation, creating more activists.
        I just read all the slides by DevMac, and they would make a great 30- to 45-minute presentation that everyone in the industry should be trained to give, with a slide deck to use and to share with audience members (or sell thumb drives at cost). You could frame the presentation by asking the audience how much they are spending a year on their electricity bills (you could say you’re going to ask in the publicity for the talks, so they look).
        Let them get riled up, and then explain the solar benefits DevMac discovered in clear, simple language, slide by slide. Then go over the deal between the Liberal and National Parties and Turnbull, to drive home the point that this was a secret conspiracy that betrayed democracy, the interests of the audience, and the well-being of the nation and the world. Then maybe have a collective call-and-response around the idea of Hell No! We’re not going to take it any more! What are we going to do about it? Let’s organize!!!
        Then have the political organizers and the solar installers stand up and go to tables where they can talk to clusters of people effectively, and channel the energy in the room.
        Tweak the event structure until it sings, and reach every fence-sitter in the nation before the next election, along with mobilizing your base.
        I suggest talking to leading gamification software developers (e.g. Bunchball) to support both the industry and the opinion leaders among their customers in staying active and being effective — and getting near-universal coverage.
        In my career, I created an information kit for health food retailers to
        notify their customers, with drama, that their ability to buy herbs and
        high-dose nutritional supplements was about to be taken away by the FDA;
        we got more cards and letters to Congress than any other issue from after the
        Vietnam War until then, and got the Dietary Supplement Health and
        Education Act of 1994 passed, protecting the industry fairly for
        over 24 years so far.
        It’s crucial to understand that the industry
        put up significant money to pay the lawyers who worked with the key industry leaders to design the strategies, those who lobbied Congress professionally, and those who
        did the fund-raising within the industry. The industry also provided lots of people who stayed on their regular payrolls while organizing and lobbying, as I did for the whole of that year. This costs real money, but you
        have a chance to pull the rug out from under the fossil fuel industry,
        and that will probably unleash what The Chasm Theory of Marketing calls
        the Tornado of Demand, and what Stanford professor Tony Seba calls
        technology disruption (actually ‘disruptive technology’). The point is
        that you combine a massive outcry by the public with a strong,
        well-organized, sustained (over a year in our case) effort in which
        strong lobbyists (and attorneys) lead and organize the CEOs of the
        industry’s companies to work with their representatives at the national level (work the state level too!). Those are the 3 legs of the stool. A 4th leg
        would be if you can mobilize a voter revolt that transforms the
        government; be savvy and pragmatic about how you play that. It probably
        needs to be a set of collective decisions, not made by a self-selected
        ‘industry leader’.
        It can be a wild and rewarding ride, as can being an entrepreneur in the first place.

      • Thanx for your details personal experience, DevMac. I have a similar story. My 7kW system delivers me cash in hand even after paying for the 2.5 45kg LPG cylinders we use each year for hot water. It’s simply common sense to install the largest PV system your roof can handle, and it doesn’t even have to facing north with the advent of micro-inverters!! 🙂

    • john 2 years ago

      The price point has been passed RE does deliver lower energy price.
      Further more RE does deliver 20 years of sustained price in today’s figures not in 2038 figures.
      We will be witness to huge implantation of solar wind battery and more importantly some of those 20,000 PHES sites linked to the wind solar.
      This is pure price of delivery and I am afraid for anyone who does not understand it RE is delivering and will even more so every year from here on.

    • Ian 2 years ago

      Yes I like that nice and simple.

      For low cost messaging, I’d suggest massive projectors on buildings at night….sort of like they have on the Opera house.

    • D. John Hunwick 2 years ago

      I suggest the use of car bumper stickers with these slogans and an address (email, website) underneath for people to support if they want, financially this campaign. I will happily donate $200 to it in exchange for just two stickers (one on each).

      • mick 2 years ago

        count me in for 2

    • I’ve been delivering that message for a while now, Mark, in public meetings and U3A courses. Stimulating the hip pocket nerve will always provide the greatest motivator for change. With up to 30% pa return on the investment in a minimum 5kW PV system, it’s really silly not to make that phone call now and get some quotes! 🙂

  7. Michael Porter 2 years ago

    Why do we not hear about the more immediate issue with coal burning – that of local pollution and PM2.5 for which diesel is currently the only culprit according to the critics? We heard so much about the Latrobe Valley health issues during the pit fires about 2 years ago yet the medical fraternity seems to be silent these days.

    • Ian 2 years ago

      Exactly. The Latrobe Valley has the highest airborne Mercury levels of any place in Australia. Other places nearby to coal generation display similar trends.

      • Michael Porter 2 years ago

        Hi Ian,
        You are referring to the crucial issue which I see. Please see my reply to Mark Roest above.

    • Mark Roest 2 years ago

      Health researchers in Oakland and Berkeley, CA did a lot of research to block the coal trains that were planned to the Port of Oakland, and if someone wants it, I could probably get one of the leaders in that effort to make it available. You would still need to apply the fundamentals to analysing your own data.

  8. brucelee 2 years ago

    Companies need to start publishing their PPA prices so we can see it in black and white

    • john 2 years ago

      Or more importantly black and red. Red being cost above average.

  9. The Duke 2 years ago

    Hello.! It was a COALition NSW Government that flogged off Liddell to Chinese owned AGL for ……..wait for it.!…………NOTHING, Nil, Zero, Zilch. At the beckoning of the Federal COALition ( Abbott and Hockey the bloody hypocrisy)
    Now they ring around trying to pressure the AGL directors into caving in.
    Wow, a Federal Government interfering in free enterprise markets, telling AGL to sell it off to an active competitor to make them look like they care. The LIEberals have really stooped to new depths of stupidity.
    Next thing we will see Beetroot Barnaby and Sco Mo rubbing coal to make it shinning and clean hoping for a genie to help them out of their own mess.
    The market will decide the price , not TurningBull or Gosh Friedbrainberger.
    INEPT was the word used by their own.

  10. onesecond 2 years ago

    Oh dear spaghetti monster, the average Australian guy seems to be pretty dense in the head. In Germany 93% of the people support prioritising renewables.

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