All the states have more ambitious plans than the Federal Government. Indeed, the Federal Government has NO PLAN. Only now, on the eve of COP 26, are they trying to scratch something together. That's after eight years in power.
What we will see in a matter of days is a statement about net zero by 2050 with little real action. It will not say anything about retiring coal powered electricity. It will not say anything about moving away from gas or limiting exploration. It will talk about green hydrogen because one of our rich iron ore magnates believes in CC and is investing billions to set up green hydrogen plants, despite the Feds. Solar will continue to grow, despite the Feds. Wind will continue to grow including now offshore, despite the Feds. The only positive investment the Feds are behind is a large pumped hydro plant being added to the Snowy Hydro scheme. That was instigated by the previous PM Malcolm Turnbull before he was voted out by his LNP party. They should be putting funds into transmission lines but they sit on their hands.
The other thing you will hear about is sequestration - carbon capture and storage. This is a complete furphy.
First off it could only capture a percentage of emissions from coal-fired power stations and the target is zero. Secondly it adds cost. Thirdly if you look at potential storage sites the amount available and the geographic places adds up to very little. The only place it has been used successfully is to force more oil out of oil wells - adding to CC. But your average punter doesn't know this and they are taken in by the PM's spin. Of course all the fossil fuel people, urging him on and asking for hand-outs, know it but they won't say.
Some States are doing better than others. South Australia is well ahead. Other States including Vic are going well but like a bet each way. They haven't yet turned down gas exploration requests. Fugitive emissions from gas are not properly accounted for and the methane graph is scary.
So, in summary, anything done so far is DESPITE this government's policies. They have in fact HINDERED progress. We have a Federal Minister for emissions reduction who actively campaigns on behalf of coal and gas. The PM's own department head is straight from the fossil fuel industry and they have stacked all the advisory bodies. But now they are being exposed for what they are and even the general voters are now more aware. 70% plus of Australians say we should do more to act on CC.
Going back to your email, you asked about batteries. They are now being added to the larger solar farms here to time shift the output. I don't think the price will fall too quickly because of the parallel demand for EVs. There is the possibility for different types of batteries for large scale installations e.g. flow batteries. A breakthrough is sorely needed. Some States here are pushing ahead with their own pumped hydro schemes and I think that's the solution.
Let's see if my predictions re the Feds plan are correct. I then went on to explain the local term ‘furphy’, though, in retrospect, I could have used some stronger language.
My prediction was correct but I claim no great predictive skills. Were there any surprises? Absolutely not. It’s all business as usual, including the spin.
As Scott Morrison was about to fly off to Europe Barnaby Joyce took great pleasure in announcing that he was instrumental in ensuring methane reduction was not part of the plan. Scott Morrison immediately fronted the media to insist that he never had any intention of agreeing to any reduction.
What a sad state of affairs. Here, on the eve of COP 26, we have Australia’s PM and Deputy PM publicly arguing over who has done the best job at rejecting one important element of climate action.
I wrote about methane and fugitive emissions in the last BSFG newsletter. The recent rise in levels is totally scary. This will only be exacerbated if ‘clean hydrogen’, as mentioned in this latest plan, includes hydrogen derived from fossil fuels - and it does in Angus Taylor’s rhetoric. Victorian Federal MP Darren Chester also mentioned it as being available from brown coal in the Latrobe Valley - and he is one of the Nationals who is supposedly a supporter of strong climate action! Ahh, pity help us.
All we really need is a Federal government which simply asks the States, “How can we help?” and States who truly are committed.
This post was originally published in the BSFG Newsletter #31, 10 November 2021.