Thursday, May 10, 2007

Myth busted: Cheap-coal powered electoral-cycles

The Liberal Government budget 2007 has been described as clever politics, but we live in a time that demands clever policies based on sound climate science. Not the clever politics of election year electoral largess.

Admittedly, the government can afford the splurge; Costello has provided good economic management, and all credit to him. But John Howard still hasn't communicated that he understands that the economy is but a system within a bigger system, and one that is under chronic, unsustainable stress, exactly as a result of how we fuel the economy. Dave Sag captures my sentiments. :::[Carbon Planet Bog]

In a follow-up article Greenhouse gas program disappointing, the Sydney Morning Herald also reports:

The budget contained tax incentives for people who want to offset their greenhouse gas emissions by investing in purpose grown forests and confirmed speculation people would be able to receive an $8000 rebate towards the cost of installing rooftop solar hot water systems.

There was also $43 million for the CSIRO to set up a climate change adaptation centre and $50 million for a program to pay farmers for carrying out environmental programs on their land.

This money is chicken-feed compared to the investment really needed to avert disaster. Where are the serious funds for solar energy research? Where are the real incentives to get people out of their cars and onto bikes and footpaths? Where’s the money to promote localised food supplies and energy efficiency? How about a massive upgrade of the nations rail systems? Australia has a massive war-chest of cash and the government is pissing it away buying votes in a time of crisis. — DS

This budget communicates that, as far as the government is concerned, we are stuck with the consequences of coal, because coal makes for cheap electricity with which to power our cities, industry and lifestyles.

Well, no, actually. That begs the question of whether coal really is cheap. Coal isn't that cheap. In fact, it was revealed today that the government subsidises and supports coal fired power plants, some by more than what they return in profits. :::[SMH: Public purse props up fossil fuel industries]

Government support for the coal industry and coal-fired electricity is so generous that in some cases it has led to the construction of coal-fired power plants when other types of electricity generation would have been cheaper, the report by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney has found.

Subsidies to fossil fuel energies, worth close to $10 billion, result in a serious market distortion, create an unfair disadvantage to renewable energy, and help increase greenhouse gas pollution, says the report, written by the institute's research principal, Chris Riedy, and commissioned by Greenpeace.

The report identified energy and transport subsidies in Australia during 2005-06 of between $9.3 billion and $10.1 billion. More than 96 per cent of that money flowed to fossil fuel production and consumption, with the remainder going to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"This effectively creates an uneven playing field for renewable energy, making it much more difficult to respond to climate change in the energy and transport sectors," the report says. "Fossil fuel subsidies can increase greenhouse gas emissions because they reduce the price of fossil fuel energy, which encourages greater use of fossil fuels and higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions."

So, no, we are not stuck. The solution is simply stop the corporate-welfare, and let these electricity generation companies compete in the real world. One where the cost of carbon is picked up by the electricity companies now, not by our kid and grandkids. Myth busted.

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Dave Sag said...

Thanks for linking to Carbpon Plnet's blog - you probably wanted to link directly to th entry Australian budget no friend to the environment, however. Cheers Dave

Unknown said...

Obama's administration has imposed regulations on coal-fired plants for cheap energy, and we're going to go with what comes the cheapest. Overall, the coal mining industry has given $8.7 million to this election cycle .
Don Blankenship