Essay by Eric Worrall
The Aussie Government is in the middle of allocating billions of dollars for renewable grid extensions, and they just voted through a climate target with Green Party support. But no level of green piety can satisfy the true climate zealots.
Labor is sending mixed messages on energy – and some of it sounds like climate denial
Mon 29 Aug 2022 03.30 AEST Last modified on Mon 29 Aug 2022 08.45 AEST
The release of vast new areas along the Australian coast for oil and gas exploration is undermining proclamations about creating a cleaner economy.
The Albanese government has a decision to make: does it want people to think it takes the climate crisis seriously? Because at the moment it’s sending mixed messages.
On one hand, it is telling a story of progress. Its ascent to power has, along with the rise of the teals and the Greens, reset the way the country thinks about dealing with the problem.
The 2030 national emissions reduction target (a 43% cut by 2030, compared with 2005) is not what the evidence says is needed or possible, but it is a step in the right direction. It is expected to soon be legislated, which if nothing else is a signal of intent.
But this is only part of the story. The other part is more familiar from the past nine years, and sounds a lot like climate denial.
It was on display last week when the resources minister, Madeleine King, announced the release of new areas along the Australian coast for the oil and gas industry to explore and potentially exploit.
It is, of course, true that Australian households and businesses use gas for heating, cooking and some electricity generation and high-temperature industrial processes. The message from King is that she sees no need to drive change away from that.
It is a different story in the east, where there is hardly any gas power in the grid, gas prices are ridiculous and the energy transition will be a straight jump from coal to renewable energy with backup.
This kind of back stabbing is to be expected. Deep greens, like hardline communists, always end up denouncing each other, accusing each other of backsliding and lack of commitment. Frankly I’m surprised it took this long – it has been a few months since Anthony Albanese was elected as Australian Prime Minister.
Having said that, I’m not sure why Guardian journalist Adam Morton is so bothered by a little energy transition oil and gas exploration.
Aussie politicians claim government help will unleash $130 billion of private investment in energy storage and renewables. In 2020 Guardian journalist Adam Morton himself explained renewables would cost less than coal from 2030 onwards.
If this cost inversion occurs, there will be no longer be any need for governments to finance renewables and discourage fossil fuel use, people will flock to green energy of their own free will.
In the meantime people need fossil fuel. Surely even deep greens like Adam Morton don’t want people to suffer hardship and energy shortages, while we all wait for their glorious green energy revolution to kick in?