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.”