Australian news, and some related international items

Australia has no policies to really deliver on its Paris climate promises

Options on energy policy leave Coalition in a sticky situation, Guardian, Katharine Murphy1 Sept 18, The government finds itself in a mess after the national energy guarantee was used as a catalyst to evict Turnbull.

We’ve lost another prime minister in the front bar brawl that is Australian politics, but we’ve lost something else as well, something that’s a bit harder to see.

For the last decade or more, a group of people in the political system have been trying to land a bipartisan consensus on energy policy and climate change, persevering through all the dispiriting cycles of trying to achieve that end, hoping that a corner could be turned.

That animating current in politics, and it’s been a significant one, now seems to have hit a dead end. That’s the feeling. We’ve reached a point of no return

If that supposition proves to be correct, this a profound problem for the country, more profound than the revolving door at the Lodge, which is deeply disconcerting, but just one symptom of a deeper malaise.

The Coalition is in a terrible mess on this issue. The national energy guarantee, the last roll of the dice for consensus, was used as a catalyst to blow up a prime minister, just as emissions trading was deployed for the same end, removing the same party leader, in 2009.

As a consequence of that rancid history, the imperative of emissions reduction now hangs over Liberal leaders like the sword of Damocles. Any leader wanting to do something knows they will have to run the gauntlet of the conservatives, and the brains trust of the conservative faction has proven itself so resistant to facts and evidence that it can’t even count numbers for a leadership spill………

The Morrison government is in a position where it is a signatory to the Paris agreement, yet there are no policies to deliver the outcome. There is a talking point doing the rounds that Australia will meet its Paris commitments “in a canter” – but this is complete nonsense. 

It is possible (although the Energy Security Board says otherwise) that we could reduce emissions by 26% in the electricity sector without a settled policy to get us there because emissions in the sector are already falling (because ageing coal is leaving the system and the renewable energy target has pulled forward investment).

But what about the rest of the economy? Emissions are rising elsewhere, and there is no plan or roadmap to curb them.

This government has dithered for years about the imposition of new emissions standards for vehicles. Ministers have not been brave enough to bring forward a concrete proposal because the Coalition party room would limber up for another implosion.

Then there’s agriculture. Many Nationals take it as a personal affront if someone suggests anything be done in agriculture. The fact that their own constituents are now being battered by horrendous drought and hanging on grimly in areas gradually being rendered unviable by inexorable climatic change is an irony that seems lost of many of our elected representatives.

So that’s the outlook on emissions. Now let’s ponder the concept of certainty.

The national energy guarantee was proposed to create policy certainty to help drive the correct mix of investment in Australia’s electricity generation assets. That was its purpose. That policy is now on the back burner.

What isn’t on the back burner is the new Morrison government’s need to deliver a fix on power prices once the prime minister has concluded the healing and stability tour. That’s on the front burner. But this is a problem with no easy fix.

The government slapped together a package of measures in the dying days of the Turnbull regime designed to lower power prices – work that would have normally taken months of careful deliberation in a cabinet subcommittee.

So now we have no over-arching mechanism for investment certainty, and a bunch of expedited measures proposed on the fly, including heavy handed market interventions, such as breaking up power companies if they don’t play ball with the government and lower prices.

Call me crazy, but that doesn’t sound like the building blocks of a stable investment climate……..


September 3, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, politics international

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