Greens climate policy calls for immediate ban on new gas, coal projects

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Greens unveil plan to wean Australian electricity network off coal, including immediate ban on new coal and gas projects, and a tax on coal exports.

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The Australian Greens have unveiled a seven-point policy plan to wean the Australian economy and electricity network off coal, including an immediate ban on all new coal and gas projects, a tax on coal exports and a carbon price.

Following on the heels of federal Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan, the Greens’ 7-point plan – released on Thursday – aims to put an “urgent brake” on Australia’s fossil fuel emissions, while also investing in large-scale clean energy.

And it follows the ALP in calling for the reinstatement of a carbon price – although Greens Leader Richard di Natale has already ridiculed Labor’s proposed version, which he told the National Press Club on Wednesday equated to a carbon price of 3c a tonne.

The Coalition, meanwhile, is busy disparaging both, with environment minister Greg Hunt dusting off the party’s tried and tested mantra on ABC Radio National on Thursday, that “the overarching point here is that this is an electricity tax.”

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The Greens plan, which would raise revenue by placing a levy on coal exports and “ending tax-free fuel” for mining companies, includes a $1 billion Clean Energy Transition Fund to help workers exit the coal industry.

It would also invest in the health of the Great Barrier Reef, which is already feeling the effects of global warming, with as much as 90 per cent of its coral affected by bleaching.

“Governments need to intervene here – not to prop up the dying coal industry, but to help coal workers get out and to protect the thousands of jobs that rely on the health of Australia’s stunning natural assets,” said Greens Leader Richard Di Natale, from Cairns’s Lizard Island.

“It’s been devastating to see the bleached coral today, and to hear about the ecological and economic impacts from reef scientists and local tourism operators. We have to turn this around.

“Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition are dumb and dumber when it comes to the subject of coal. They’ve sold out to their fossil fuel donors, handing out billions of dollars in subsidies and approvals for new coal and gas projects when this is an industry in decline.

“Coal is going down – that’s a market reality – but only the Greens have a plan to make sure workers and the Reef don’t go down with it.”

Greens Deputy Leader and Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters said Australia could not afford to continue with business as usual.

“The climate and the Reef can’t take any more new coal or gas. Our Reef and our food producing land shouldn’t be subjected to any new coal or gas mines or expansions, when we have the opportunity to generate abundant clean energy that is reliable, creates more jobs and won’t worsen global warming.

“The plan the Greens are outlining today will enhance our agriculture and tourism industries, while generating new clean-energy jobs and making sure coal companies pay for the damage they’re doing,” Senator Waters said.

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14 Comments
  1. suthnsun 4 years ago

    At last, a ban on ff (exploration?) and developments in the offing. A push is needed for global coverage.

    • Brunel 4 years ago

      Give a 4 year rego holiday to EVs and hybrids.

      • lin 4 years ago

        Or perhaps introduce a pollution levy on oil burners based on age, vehicle class and fuel type. After all, their pollution kills thousands per year in Australia, and causes many millions of dollars of burden to the health system and citizens personal finances.
        This should also be applied to coal power stations, coal mines, gas wells, etc. Polluters have been avoiding this “externality” for far too long. It is not just CO2 that they push into the atmosphere.

        • Brunel 4 years ago

          There is already a massive rego charge on polluting cars and a big tax on petrol, but nothing the other way to reward poor voters who buy a hybrid or fully electric car.

  2. Brunel 4 years ago

    Regarding the ban on new gas peaking power stations, what is the cost of storing electrons in batteries?

    Obviously batteries will replace peaking power stations. But what is the cost of storage?

    • Mark Diesendorf 4 years ago

      Fortunately the Greens’ media release on its seven-point climate plan doesn’t say anything about banning peak-load gas turbines. Banning BASE-LOAD gas-fired power stations makes sense, but not peak-load. In a large-scale electricity grid with the major contribution from non-hydro renewable energy, peak-load gas turbines can play a vital role, together with existing hydro, in balancing the fluctuations in wind + solar PV. Gas turbines are flexible in operation, are at present much cheaper than batteries and can burn biofuels when these fuels become more widely available from environmentally sound sources. Gas turbines have low capital costs (they are essentially jet engines) and, because they would only be needed to supply a few percent of annual electricity generation in a 100% renewable electricity grid, low fuel costs. They are reliability insurance with a low premium. It would be a mistake to ban peak-load gas turbines before batteries are a lot cheaper.

      • Brunel 4 years ago

        Can you use the Enter key.

      • solarguy 4 years ago

        Mark what your saying on gas peaking turbines makes sense, as long as the bio fuel feed stock doesn’t come from food crops, but waste. Human waste converted into methane for these turbines would be ideal, no lack of feed stock either.
        These turbines wouldn’t have to be used for just peak load, but for energy back up in an 100% renewable grid on days of inclement weather events when solar output is too low and wind could be insufficient.
        Some batteries are cost effective up to the low MW scale. However in a 100% renewable grid there will be a lot of occasions were excess power will be wasted and should be stored. Storage above the low MW scale, can be best served by Molten Salt, the cost of which is $136/kwh built currently.
        Excess generation can also be used to produce hydrogen by cracking water and stored at low pressure.

      • Andrew Woodroffe 4 years ago

        Even better, gas turbines have actually no capital costs as they ALREADY exist (well, in WA). All we need to do is ensure that they are sufficiently well maintained to operate when required for the ever fewer hours a year ever increasing amounts of wind and solar plant will require.

        A note about batteries, they will most cost effective for networks where lines (transmission or distribution) need upgrading. More generally, SIREN studies in WA suggest that there is a definite sweet spot where ever more batteries provide only an ever smaller return. They will also ensure that there will be time for the bigger gas turbines to ramp up and down.

  3. Chris Fraser 4 years ago

    Oh … are we being threatened with electricity taxes ? Maybe the better plan is to make us pay polluters to offset emissions, and let them pollute as much as they wish anyway. Maybe we’d rather burn every molecule of gas, in spite of COP21. So is there no interest in emissions or climate management for the sake of future generations ? … that sure puts generational theft in a new light.

  4. John Saint-Smith 4 years ago

    ” a carbon price of 3c a tonne”. That’s not enough to stir the breeze, let alone decarbonize the economy. But the real scandal is the spin our supposedly rational Prime Minister and his drongo mates are putting on this ‘slap in the face with a damp mosquito wing’ from the ALP. Even Barmy Choice is back on the $100 lamb roast band wagon again.
    “A brake on the economy that will destroy jobs, yarda, yarda…” Straight out of the Tony Abbott crap book.
    But at least he admitted that he didn’t really believe in climate change. This mob of hypocrites tell us that they are committed to achieving greater cuts than just about any nation on Earth – while they build Australia’s coal exports and slow down renewable projects.
    They are making Donald Trump look rational. And all Australians the fools at the bottom of the world – in every sense of the word.

  5. onesecond 4 years ago

    They are totally right. Such a shame that most voters can’t think more than a week ahead.

  6. Robert Comerford 4 years ago

    The more noise the greens make the less chance of anything positive happening. Tunnel thinking cost us our chance to have a bipartisan price on carbon years ago and now we are all paying the price. You can bet your life that “carbon tax” will be shouted from the rooftops from now to polling day by the conservatives so Labor will pay the price at the polls.

    Those who don’t understand that compromises have to be made in democratic systems and that such ideas have to be introduced slowly to get the voter onside are part of the problem.

    Voters only care about their hip pockets so that is the line that should be taken. Labor needs to show them the new jobs that will be created for them to transition to and the increased cost (if any) to the household budget.
    No carbon price for the COALition to rant about, just start at the worst polluters, the Victorian brown coal plants. Get a reverse auction to replace their supply and give the winner(s) the go ahead to do it. Many jobs will be created providing the mix of generators and storage that will do the job. If they get that right it won’t be hard to remove the rest.

  7. john 4 years ago

    It is really terrible to put in RE where the cost is locked in for x number of years.
    Yes correct develop a wind farm, a solar farm, a wave farm and locked in for 20 years.
    Result ?
    A set cost of power no one making any money off it with forward speculation etc.
    Any reason why this can not be done ?
    Other than resistance to enabling a good resolution to society’s needs i see none.

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