NEG in the air as Nationals go for coal, and Barnaby goes nuts | RenewEconomy

NEG in the air as Nationals go for coal, and Barnaby goes nuts

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Frydenberg says final agreement on NEG may be more than a month away, as Labor watches Coalition in-fighting, with Nationals digging in for coal and Barnaby Joyce saying any shift of emissions burden to the rural sector would be the final straw.

Australian Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg delivers his address to the National Press Club in Canberra, Wednesday, April 11, 2018. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
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Late update: See RenewEconomy’s exclusive  on the latest modelling from the ESB – wind and solar at standstill, no further coal closures before 2030.

The timetable for a final decision on the controversial National Energy Guarantee has been thrown into the air amid a renewed push for coal generation by the National Party following the Coalition’s “super-Saturday” by-election defeats last weekend.

Energy and environment minister Josh Frydenberg, trying to get Labor states to sign up to a hopelessly inadequate emissions target on one hand, and dealing with climate deniers in his own party on the other, said on Tuesday it could be another month before any final agreement is reached.

Frydenberg acknowledged that he won’t get final agreement from the states on August 10 at the next scheduled CoAG meeting, because of their refusal to sign a blank cheque to the Coalition on emissions.

Instead, Frydenberg will take the emissions component to an increasingly skeptical party room on Tuesday August 14, before having a hook up with CoAG energy ministers later that day, assuming they had made progress on the contested framework.

“What we have been talking about is to agree to the detailed design subject to a phone hook up after it’s gone through the party room, I hope,” Frydenberg said during an appearance at the Clean Energy Summit dinner in Sydney on Tuesday night.

“… And the legislation then goes out in exposure draft for a month and then any changes will then need to be made by the ESB, if necessary, and then it comes back to another agreement from the CoAG energy council,” Frydenberg said.

“There is a lot to go.”

Victoria, Queensland and the ACT have indicated they will not sign up to the NEG without knowing that the Coalition party room is locked in behind it, and will not then re-neg on any emissions guarantee.

Their fears are being compounded by the actions of the Nationals and LNP, with Resources Minister Matt Canavan taking the extraordinary step of “dispatching” MP George Christensen to Japan to visit new coal generators and to try to drum up financing for a new facility in Australia.

That is a red line for the Labor states, and for most observers, simply because it’s a nonsense to suggest that a new coal-fired generator could do anything to address high electricity prices. All the modelling suggests that it would do the opposite, not to mention its impact on emissions.

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce is also back on the war path, suggesting that if the emissions reduction burden falls on the agriculture sector – as it must do with such a weak target in electricity and if Australia is to meet its Paris targets – then that is “nutcase” stuff.

“If we go down that path then forget it, I’m out, see you later, goodbye,” Joyce told Sky News on Tuesday evening.

Interestingly, Frydenberg said it was a fact that “we are living in a carbon-constrained environment”. He talked of companies and banks who are factoring such things into their investment and financing decisions.

Meanwhile, the next step of the NEG was looking to the modelling done for the Energy security Board by ACIL-Allen, which, extraordinary, was not released or distributed to governments.

After pressure from governments, and from independent analysts earlier this week, the modelling is expected to be released on Wednesday.

Asked about this on Tuesday, Frydenberg questioned the “bona fides” of many of the 23 energy analysts saying that “these academics – a vast number have been openly critical on day one, so I do question their bona fides.”

Their opposition to the NEG is true enough, however, and focused mostly on the weak emissions targets – something which has been confirmed by the ESB in their final document.

The ESB admits that the emissions target will effectively be met before the proposed emissions obligation comes into effect. That means it will provide no incentive for new low-carbon generation investment.

Even ACIL Allen had pointed out – as far back as April – that it the electricity sector will account for less than 5 per cent of the target that Australia signed up for at Paris, despite accounting for one-third of total emissions and having the cheapest abatement opportunities.

Caught in the middle is the clean energy industry, with divisions running deep over whether it is best to sign up to a platform which may or may not be upgraded with a change of government, or to have no platform at all.

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  1. MaxG 2 years ago

    I thought Bananby was already nuts 🙂

  2. Just_Chris 2 years ago

    My opinion is that the nationals are absolutely barking mad.
    Australia’s rural regions are the ones who stand to benefit most from emissions
    reductions if smart policy was put in place. What logic is there to sending
    George to Japan to get funding for a coal fired power station when he could be
    at home banging the drum for agri-waste to energy, pumped hydro / water storage
    and biofuels. Instead he wants to build a coal fired power station that drinks
    potable water like a fish in the heart of a country that well known for being
    dry. Why not fund farmers to build micro-grids? From a pure engineering
    perspective there are pluses and minuses to every power generation technology
    but on balance, regardless of emissions, my opinion is the people who benefit most
    from large centralised power generation are those that live in large
    centralised population centres.

    • Peter F 2 years ago

      Not all the Nationals just the ones bought by the coal and CSG companies

      • Andy Saunders 2 years ago

        True enough. Many Nationals know that carbon cuts in agricultural emissions are much harder/more expensive than stationary power.

        • Peter Campbell 2 years ago

          So, why don’t we hear from any of them? Why have they not put Canavan and Barnaby back in their boxes, very firmly?

          • Just_Chris 2 years ago

            I find the young nationals really refreshing.

            wish we could get past the us and them mentality in Australia. If we (as a
            planet) are going to meet the Paris agreement we are all going to have to work
            together. In my opinion, and more importantly from an Australian perspective, we
            need to engage with our rural communities because they are going to have
            transition from being the food bowel of Asia to the Food bowel and power
            station of Asia. People talk about the coal and gas industry in Australia
            employing people and taking over the land scape but in comparison the solar and
            wind resources we are going to need to build to replace those industries are
            going to be far, far larger. They will be less environmentally damaging,
            consume less water, compete less directly for land than mining and spread their
            revenue far more evenly over our local regions but without the buy in from people,
            who traditionally vote national, in these area’s we’re stuffed.

          • Steve Woots 2 years ago

            There’s a few starting to do that. Too little, too late, and such a rusted on mob they have to deal with.

      • Tony 2 years ago

        Can’t forget abbott and all his mob in the liberal party.their more than happy to destroy the planet it would seem.

    • Ren Stimpy 2 years ago

      Frydenberg needs only to look to Britain. They are THE most conservative govt anyone could imagine yet they PRIDE themselves on science, facts and education

      Don’t fall for this biased moron Trump Josh, instead look to the center of knowledge. AGW climate change left unchecked will destroy the planet. You know that. Take over the principles that Malcolm once had but sold out, for your party’s sake.

    • Ian 2 years ago

      Too right, farmers and rural towns can certainly benefit from robust microgrids. Wind, solar, storage and possibly biomass. Where is the investment in this infrastructure?

  3. Phil 2 years ago

    I was a bit shocked when mainstream farmers were stating “how dare the consumer dictate what and how we produce”

    A bit like the sales person saying “this would be a great job if we had no customers”

    The reason it surprised me is farming is no longer a lifestyle, it’s a business
    So expect some major shifts in the Ag sector.
    And consumers will 95% drive that.

    • Rod 2 years ago

      “how dare the consumer dictate what and how we produce”

      Never mind the consumer/tax payer just stumping up a billion in NSW in emergency funding to support the unsustainable production. That is just the beginning. I heard a story yesterday of the army being brought in to deliver feed and water. FFS. It would much cheaper to do something about climate change than to reach for the band-aids.

      • Pedro 2 years ago

        It’s a tough life being a farmer especially on marginal farming land. All the best farm land where the soil is good and with good permanent water sources has been gobbled up by urban sprawl of all the major cities in Australia and the rest of the world. This has pushed farmers further out into more marginal land where the soil is poorer and water resources are more scarce. I think we have to get used to more farms being ever more drought prone with the inevitable quick fix of tax payers helping the farming community out during times of drought. Other than that the government can buy back the most marginal land, cease farming operations and let it go back to native bush land.

        • Rod 2 years ago

          Yep, good land being gobbled up for housing is a disaster but who can blame the landowner. Around me all the Italian market gardeners have just about gone. Who needs super with that sort of payout.
          Eventually a lot of marginal land will need to be abandoned (for farming) rather than propped up every few years due to drought.

          • Joe 2 years ago

            Its the same in Sydney as the urban sprawl continues unabated going further west all the time. The market gardens of the western suburbs are gone, Badgerys Creek area farmland is to go under the new Airport which leaves The Hawkesbury district as one of the last large produce growing ares left within close proximity to Sydney and that is under pressure from development as well. Its just dumb policy that successive governments have allowed. But I guess we / Australia can just go and import our food in future. Instead of just importing ‘out of season’ fresh food at the moment we can go and import all of our food in future. No need to worry about farming marginal lands anymore.

        • Ian 2 years ago

          Well said. Urban sprawl pollution has not even been considered in Australia. For a country where biodiversity and non-desert conditions hug a 30 to 50km coastal rim and the rest is “marginal farming land” , we have been very stupid to site the majority of the urban landscape right in the best and most productive parts. It’s like pooing in your own drinking water.

          • MaxG 2 years ago

            Which we do with fracking!

          • Pedro 2 years ago

            To make absolutely sure we poison the ground water supply for the next 10000 years.

      • Joe 2 years ago

        And the brainwave to kickstart the Sydney Desal Plant and pump the water directly to the drought stricken farmers all over NSW.

        • phillyc 2 years ago

          Coal fired power station use gigalitres of fresh water that should be getting used for agriculture. Instead it’s evaporated off.

  4. Rod 2 years ago

    This is a very slow trainwreck and it won’t end well for the COALition.

    • Joe 2 years ago

      It has all the makings of a re-runner when Abbott knifed Turnbull to take Round 1, their personal duel over the Leadership of The LNP.

      • Rod 2 years ago

        I read a piece the other day by the Mad Monk saying “we don’t need to change leaders we just need to change policies” He might not be in the hot seat but he is still pulling the strings of our “strong” leader.

        • Joe 2 years ago

          …and the Abbott to provide the “strong action” in knocking off the Turnbull, again.

      • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

        Abbott has no chance.

        • Joe 2 years ago

          Never say ‘Never’ where the Budgie Smuggler in Chief is concerned. He has hung around in Parliament after he lost the Leadership, hanging on for another chance to sit in The Big Chair.

          • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

            This isn’t Russia, Italy or Israel is it?

    • Ken Dyer 2 years ago

      It will by May 2019.

      • Rod 2 years ago

        I read that House of Reps don’t have to go until Nov 2019. Senate deadline is May.
        I don’t think the Prime Ditherer is stupid enough to try that stunt.

        • Ken Dyer 2 years ago

          Yes that’s right. According to the AEC:

          As House of Representatives and half-Senate elections are usually held simultaneously, the earliest date for such an election would be Saturday 4 August 2018.

          As the latest possible date for a half-Senate election is
          Saturday 18 May 2019, the latest possible date for a simultaneous (half-Senate and House of Representatives) election is also Saturday 18 May 2019.

          A House of Representatives election can be requested at any
          time but, if the Government has control of the House and is able to proceed
          with its legislative program, the Governor-General is unlikely to agree to such
          a request within the first year of a new parliament.

          To calculate the latest possible date of the next election,
          the maximum number of days specified must be applied. The last possible date
          for the next election is within 68 days from the expiry of the House. As the 45th
          Parliament first met on Tuesday 30 August 2016 it is, therefore, due to expire
          on Thursday 29 August 2019.[4]

          The next election for the House of Representatives must,
          therefore, be held by 2 November 2019, the last Saturday within the 68 day
          period. However, an election may be held at any time before that date.
          Generally, elections are called well before there is a constitutional or legal

          There has been only one instance of an election being held
          after a parliament expired through effluxion of time. This occurred in 1910. In
          recent times, Prime Minister William McMahon has gone closest to a full-term parliament,
          dissolving the House in 1972 after two years, 11 months and eight days. The 41st
          Parliament under Prime Minister John Howard also went close, with a term from
          16 November 2004 to 17 October 2007—two years, 11 months and one day.

          • Nick Kemp 2 years ago

            Thanks for that – unfortunately it seems to me that the election won’t be until Nov 2019 under those guidelines because this lot will be hanging on desperately both hoping something will change for the better and trying to lock in their own deals.

  5. lin 2 years ago

    Joyce said “If we go down that path then forget it, I’m out, see you later, goodbye,”
    This is good news! If a strong emissions target will get him to resign, its a win-win-win situation, and something we should all get behind.

    • Joe 2 years ago

      I’ll say to Bananabee, don’t wait any longer…. just go NOW!

      • Ken Dyer 2 years ago

        ….and take the rest of the useless LNP COALition with you.

        Election now.

      • Chris Marshalk 2 years ago

        And don’t let the door hit you from behind. Oh Barnarby you red faced baboons bum.

    • jm 2 years ago

      Strangely most people I’ve read think that weak emissions targets for the electricity sector mean high and costly targets for the agricultural sector. So if Mr Joyce is consistent, then he should support high targets for electricity…

      • lin 2 years ago

        Barnaby, Abbott et al are the rearguard protecting Gina et al’s investment in fossil fuels. They will fight every attempt to limit fossil fuel consumption, falling back to the next least supportable position as their current one becomes increasingly absurd. The record temperatures, fires, floods and droughts around the world, as predicted by climate scientists for decades, may finally be getting through to the masses. Hopefully it will consign this anti-science anti-fact political circus to irrelevance in the very near future.

        • jm 2 years ago

          Looking at the Guardian I find what he said described in slightly more detail as “He said it’s “nutcase stuff” to hear that the 26% target for pollution in the electricity sector under the Neg will increase pressure on sectors like agriculture to cut emissions so Australia can comply with international climate change commitments…. If we go down that path then forget it, I’m out, see you later, goodbye,” So while it is likely he prefers no targets at all, it is still possible he would prefer high electricity targets than high agricultural targets.

          What I find amusing is the government’s denunciation of any targets at all as an “extreme left position” when their own position is purely political and aimed at appeasing its “extreme right.”

          • lin 2 years ago

            You might be right, but it has been a long time since the Nats represented the interests of the agricultural sector as their primary concern. Its been gas and coal over farms, water for multinationals over family farms, exporters over animal welfare etc etc, and its Australian farming families who are being screwed.

          • Joe 2 years ago

            Lin, you re spot on. There are 16 Nats in The HoReps and 6 Nats in The Senate. Who votes for them all?

          • lin 2 years ago

            My guess is mostly people who remember what they did a few decades back, and have not been paying attention to their takeover by big-ag and mining. And people who hate Labor and The Greens beçause Rupert and Gina’s people told them to.

    • Geoff James 2 years ago

      I think it’s the other way round – it’s a weak (electricity) emissions target that will make him resign, because then the reductions will have to be made by the next largest contributor, agriculture.

    • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

      I don’t understand if Joyce wants a higher NEG emissions target for stationary energy so Ag and transport can twiddle their thumbs or lower NEG so it automatically passes to other sectors, including Ag.

      The BZE Land Use Report shows Ag sector emissions are as high as 54% of national GHG emissions when accounting is more rigorous than current UNFCCC methodology which minimises the short term impact on climate (and farmers) of SLCPs including methane, CO & BC all produced on livestock stations, and neglects to include land clearing and re-clearing in Ag sector emissions.

      • lin 2 years ago

        I don’t think Joyce knows what he wants (from a policy perspective at least) until Gina tells him.

      • Joe 2 years ago

        Hi Alastair. To continue on with your theme of Joyce / The Nationals and their disregard for their own people – The Farmers. In case you missed it last night (2/08 ) on the ABC’s ‘Matter of Trust’ program was a superb 15 minute truth telling interview between program host Stan Grant and Farmer John from regional NSW in the electorate of Parkes which just happens to be the neighbour of the Joyce’s electorate of New England. The topic of the drought was the bedrock for the interview but of course The Nationals and their attitude towards climate change climate featured prominently. Farmer John didn’t hold back in his criticism of The Nationals…betrayal, it hurts, we need new people with new thinking, were some of Farmer John’s verbal missiles that he launched at The Nationals. A fantastic interview that every member of The Coalition should be forced to sit and watch.

  6. Jo 2 years ago

    So much about being energy agnostic!
    ‘Agnostic’ is NewSpeak and means ‘more coal’.

  7. Chris Fraser 2 years ago

    Investment for coal in Japan is not like investing for coal in Australia. Really what’s the point in sending George there ? All you’ll get is some duty-free saki.

    • Steve Woots 2 years ago

      I figure it is a farewell tour.

  8. Cooma Doug 2 years ago

    We are all looking at electricity options constantly. There are a hundred things we have to do to manage climate change. The power production is by far the simplest with all the solutions sitting there. Please consider looking at this list and check out the book associated with it.

    • phillyc 2 years ago

      Nice list. Thanks for the link.

      • Just_Chris 2 years ago

        Great list, I think it is good to have a this sort of information to hand. A lot of what we talk about is what someone else should be doing and it is nice to have a list that includes things that we can all do indervidually and things that we need to do together. I have been reflecting on what me and my family should be doing personally recently. I am considering trying to reduce my household emissions by 80% compared to when my wife and I started living together in 2005. I’m not quite there with my thought process but I think it is a good activity to engauge in regardless of if a formally do it. Especially since there is a whole load of stuff I can do that saves money and my wastline.

  9. bedlambay 2 years ago

    Shows how Team Turnbull is totally unfit to govern. Super Saturday shows the voters are not buying the “Team”s spin, mendacity and gutter politics.

    • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

      They couldn’t even govern a steam turbine 😉

  10. Alexander Hromas 2 years ago

    Barnaby is so reliable just when you thought he could not get nuttier he comes up tops

  11. howardpatr 2 years ago

    “Joyce goes nuts” – he has been nuts for years.

    With his latest outburst he may be wanting to replace Abbott as the Chairman of what someone described as the JAACK Forum, (Joyce, Abbott, Abetz, Canavan and Kelly).

  12. phillyc 2 years ago

    Interestingly, Frydenberg said it was a fact that “we are living in a carbon-constrained environment”.
    Josh needs to grow a set of balls and tell his party room this. Instead he is placating a room of renewable minded individuals.

  13. Robert Comerford 2 years ago

    Well Barnaby, time to step up to the mark and support maximum efforts to reduce carbon pollution from the electricity and transport sectors if you don’t want the agricultural sector to be the one to carry the main load.

  14. George Michaelson 2 years ago

    “these academics – a vast number have been openly critical on day one, so I do question their bona fides.”

    ok. I guess that’s one way to do it. From another perspective, if you propose a completely skewed model, and a bunch of academics say “no.. thats bust” then perhaps they’re right, and your model is wrong?

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