With a major international climate leadership summit just weeks away, Australia’s diplomats have ramped up their efforts to convince the world that Australia is taking climate action – including by using footage of overseas renewable energy projects in promotional videos.
In a video posted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to Twitter last week, the department sought to promote to the world that “transitioning to a cleaner, more efficient future is a priority for Australia”.
Transitioning to a cleaner, more efficient future is a priority for Australia. We are building & investing in renewable energies at record levels, including having the highest uptake of household solar in the 🌏. See more on our practical climate action ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/5A6gn5lVbN
— DFAT🇦🇺 (@dfat) April 7, 2021
But despite the video talking up Australia’s investments in clean energy, some of the footage is of a wind and solar project that is not located in Australia.
It appears DFAT, in an effort to include footage of wind and solar projects with its promotion of Australia’s climate efforts, has purchased and used stock footage of the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm in California.
The layout and design of the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm is recognisably not of the style used for wind farms in Australia. Originally constructed in the 1980s, the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm uses the much smaller wind turbines available at the time, which are clustered closely together – reflecting a now outdated approach to wind farm design and one that has virtually never been used in Australia.
Also featured in the promotional video is an image of the Gorgon gas project, with a claim that “by 2025, almost half of our electricity will be powered by renewables.”
The Gorgon has project has no renewable energy component and is one of Australia’s largest offshore liquified natural gas projects. The facility does include Australia’s only operational commercial carbon capture and storage project – a project that has been plagued by delays and performance issues.
Projections produced by the federal government of Australia’s future emissions, includes a forecast that Australia’s renewable electricity share will grow to 42 per cent, including 47 per cent penetration in the east-coast National Electricity Market.
But this is not a milestone that the Morrison government has been particularly fond of locally, with federal energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor claiming Australia already has too much wind and solar.
The Morrison government also criticised Labor’s commitment to reaching 50 per cent renewables by 2030, describing the target as ‘economy wrecking’.
But now it seems the Morrison government is embracing the target, at least when it comes to convincing international peers that Australia is doing its fair share.
The Morrison government has been strident in its refusal to consider setting stronger emissions reduction targets for Australia, including refusing to commit Australia to a net zero emissions target for 2050, as a growing number of Australia’s major trading partners has done.
Instead, the Morrison government has pushed its own ‘gas led recovery’ as part of its economic response to Covid-19.
Prime minister Scott Morrison has managed to secure a speaking role at a climate leadership summit being hosted by newly elected US president Joe Biden on 22 and 23 April.
Morrison had been snubbed by a similar summit hosted by the UK prime minister Boris Johnson, ahead of the next round of international climate talks in Glasgow at the end of the year, after refusing to commit Australia to any meaningful action on climate change.
Morrison has likely secured the speaking slot at Biden’s summit by virtue of being a member of the reconstituted Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together the world’s 17 largest greenhouse gas emitters.
In an unfortunate error, the same video misspelled the name of renewable energy company Neoen, attributing a photo produced by the company to “@NoeonAustralia”.
Perhaps some members of the Morrison government could actually visit some of Australia’s solar and wind farms to obtain their own footage.
A spokesperson for DFAT told RenewEconomy that the department uses stock images and footage, as well as custom works in its external communications.
The use of images of US wind and solar farm in the video posted to twitter was inadvertent, the spokesperson said.