ScoMo’s Climate Solutions Package Panned

Prime Minister Scott Morrison - Climate Solutions Package

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison | via Facebook

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday announced the climate policy he’ll be going into the next election with. If the aim was to elicit negative reactions, then it was a rip-roaring success.

The PM announced a $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package (Abbott-era Direct Action rebranded), which includes ploughing a further $2 billion into the Climate Solutions Fund over ten years – also a rebranded Tony Abbott initiative (the Emissions Reduction Fund). The term turd-polishing springs to mind.

Nowhere in the brochure regarding the Fund is there a mention of renewable energy; although separate to the Fund some cash is to be poured into another interconnector between Tasmania and mainland Australia as the Apple Isle moves towards its Battery Of The Nation goals.

Early this morning the ABC reported the Prime Minister will today also commit up to $1.38 billion in equity investment for Snowy 2.0; putting a lot of eggs into one basket. Why the Snowy 2.0 investment wasn’t mentioned yesterday in the Prime Minister’s announcement is curious.

The PM is confident his Climate Solutions Package is solid.

“We will meet our global commitments, and do what is right for our environment, without taking a wrecking ball to the economy,” stated Prime Minister Morrison.

This includes not driving electricity prices “sky-high”. Surely he wasn’t taking a swipe at renewables, as new renewables are cheaper than new coal – and will soon be cheaper than existing coal.

The Climate Solutions Package and Climate Solutions Fund was widely criticised yesterday.

Clean Energy Council – Golden Opportunity Missed

The Clean Energy Council said the policy will do little to slash energy sector emissions or provide the certainty required to continue momentum in clean energy investment beyond 2020.

“Any policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which ignores the need to transition our emissions-intensive energy sector – the largest source of emissions in the Australian economy – to clean energy, is not taking the matter seriously,” said Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton.

Smart Energy Council – Locking In Failed Policy

The Smart Energy Council was not impressed, stating that instead of fast-tracking renewables, Scott Morrison’s answer is to lock in failed Abbott policy.

“We saw Scott Morrison deliver the speech, but clearly heard Tony Abbott’s words,” said Smart Energy Council CEO John Grimes. “Scott Morrison has topped up Tony Abbott’s Emissions Reduction Fund, maintained Tony Abbott’s emissions reduction target and continued Tony Abbott’s contempt for action on climate change.”

Climate Council – Not Credible

The Climate Council was scathing of the announcement, stating it would be doubling down on failed policy.

“It is absolutely clear from the science that any climate policy that does not drive fossil fuel emissions down rapidly and deeply is not credible,” said Climate Councillor Will Steffen. “This policy fails miserably on this critical criterion.”

As for Australia meeting its climate targets “at a canter” as the PM reassures us:

“When it comes to dealing with climate change, we haven’t even saddled the horse,” commented Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie. “The government’s own projections show we are not on track to meet our targets.”

The Australia Institute – Falls Drastically Short

The TAI said it cannot credibly be considered a centrepiece climate policy.

“This $2 billion over ten years, is a mere drop in the ocean compared to what must be done to reduce Australia’s emissions – something that cannot be achieved unless big polluters are held to account,” said TAI’s Richie Merzian.

Also released yesterday was the National Strategy for Electric Vehicles, which Simon Holmes à Court referred to as the most vacuous government document he’s ever read. No doubt we’ll be hearing more about that one.

It wasn’t a good start to the week for the Morrison Government (again) on the issues of energy and climate change, following on from the recent revelation that its Underwriting New Generation Investment Program may be headed for big trouble.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. new renewables are cheaper than new coal – and will soon be cheaper than existing coal

    Well that’s good so you don’t need to spend billions more on subsidising renewables, when they already get major subsidies like SRES, LRET and FIT.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      It would be more logical to make coal pay for its externalities — the costs its use imposes on everyone — than to subsidize renewable energy. The health costs of using coal comes to approximately 1-2 cents per kilowatt-hour generated. Using an optimistic estimate of $70 per tonne, the cost of removing CO2 released from burning from the atmosphere and sequestering it would add around 7 cents per kilowatt-hour to coal generated electricity. It is very clear that making coal pay for its full cost would price it out of the market.

      • Last year coal mining royalties were $3.7 billion paid to the Queensland government alone.
        If you taxed coal generation like you suggest and switched to renewables the cost would be huge.
        There would be a popular revolution that would eclipse the yellow vest.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          Yes, I well remember the riots of 2012 after electricity prices increased by 90% in real terms. Clearly the riots in Queensland that would result from a sudden approximately 15% temporary increase in electricity prices — which is what I was definitely advocating — would be just as bad.

          I hear I have a lot of influence on Scott Morrison’s decisions, so I suggest boarding up your windows now just to be on the safe side.

  2. 15% temporary increase in electricity prices

    By temporary do you mean a bigger percentage next year ?
    Because that’s what will be needed for a substantial reduction in coal generation.
    Though maybe the media and politicians do exaggerate how upset the average person will be with higher electricity costs, I don’t know.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      George, before we have a long and enlightening blog comments discussion I’d like to check that you believe burning coal has negative health effects and negative environmental effects. That these costs are real and we are paying them whether or not they are explicitly added to the cost of burning coal.

      • Ronald, the life expectancy in Australia is now 80.4 years for males and 84.6 years for females, among the highest in the world.
        This is due to our high standard of living which is partly due to cheap readily available energy.
        When the cost of energy becomes more expensive everything becomes more expensive including health care.
        Coal burning may have a negative health effects but it is very greatly exaggerated IMO.
        People living close to power stations and mines like Muswellbrook would have thousands of times the exposure than the rest of the population but we don’t see significantly higher statistics of poor health associated with emissions there .

        • Ronald Brakels says

          George, you wrote:

          “Coal burning may have a negative health effects but it is very greatly exaggerated IMO.”

          That’s a ballsy statement. Unfortunately, people’s health doesn’t care what your opinion is. I think I’ll believe the evidence over your opinion. Epidemiologists have put a fair bit of effort into studying the effects of coal pollution. You might want to check it out.

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