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Energy: the future is coal « Previous | |Next »
June 14, 2004

Energy1aph.jpg Steve Lewis, writing in The Australian, gets the election interplay on environmental politics about right.

On the one hand, we have the symbolic politics of greenie Peter Garrett joining the ALP. On the other hand, we have Howard's black energy statement to be announced tomorrow. Lewis says:

"But at least his [Garrett's] political elevation brings a frisson of excitement to federal politics. It also provides a nice juxtaposition to John Howard's address to the National Press Club. In case you didn't know, the Prime Minister and his senior ministers (notably Industry and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane and Environment Minister David Kemp) have been beavering away for months on an energy and environment white paper. Howard was forced to broker a deal between the two ministers, whose portfolio allegiances saw them often arguing over aspects of the package."

Lewis doesn't say it explicitly, but Kemp was rolled by McFarlane. Consequently, Australia's energy future does not include a serious commitment to renewable energy. Lewis goes on to say that:

"Howard...will argue the [energy] package strikes a sensible balance between the competing interests of Australia's big fossil-fuel energy suppliers and an emerging renewables sector which argues solar, wind and tidal are the green technologies of the future. He will present the statement as a 10-year plan to deal with Australia's energy challenge, and to show the Government has not run out of policy puff after more than eight years on the treasury benches.... And tomorrow the Prime Minister will confirm the Government is resisting calls to embrace a mandatory renewable energy target of 5per cent. That is the minimum level the renewables sector claims is necessary to provide the market conditions that would require the likes of Rio Tinto to source a greater percentage of their energy needs from green power."

Lewis does not say it explictly, but the Howard government has been captured by the energy intensive industries (such as Rio Tinto & the aluminium industry)are big exporters of coal and users of electricity produced by dirty coal-fired power stations in Australia.

As Lewis says, Howard has not disappointed them. His Government has resisted international calls to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which requires developed countries to reduce their greenhouse emissions. And he will go softly softly on energy reform tomorrow to avoid giving a stronger emphasis on renewable energy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:27 PM | | Comments (0)