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Big Energy's talk fest « Previous | |Next »
January 9, 2006

I see that Ministers from Australia, the US, China, India, Japan and South Korea along with Big Energy will meet this Wednesday in Australia as part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate Protection. This is the anti-Kyoto group opposes emissions trading as a way of compelling industry and business to switch to more sustainable forms of energy production. Yet the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change has confirmed that fossil fuels are the cause. Burning oil, coal and gas produces greenhouse gases are responsible for climate change, a changing world climate and rising temperatures.


Big energy does have a public relations problem with global warming. They are the bad guys, as the power sector is the single greatest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. The market liberals, who say that strong economic growth is the number on policy goal and that the only responsibility corporations have is to create wealth, also have a problem. Global warming is an example of market failure and government intervention is needed to rectify the negative externalities.

Both groups are opposed to the Kyoto Protocol and to big investments in clean energy. So how do they address global warming given the denial of corporate social responsibility by Big Energy and market liberals? Will the meeting just be a public relations exercise? Will it be a case of 'we are doing something by conferencing --learning to get along!' Me thinks they are conferencing in Sydney to do energy business.

The anti-Kyoto crowd do have a high tech solution for global warming--carbon sequestration. They aim to capture and store underground the carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels. However it could be 10 to 40 years before carbon capture and storage technologies are commercially viable and well entrenched in industry, and they could double the cost of fossil fuel power. But why would Big Energy adopt such technologies, given the government's refusal to put a penalty on greenhouse gas emissions because it is bad for business?

Why not go nuclear guys. It's the logical solution. Make this a test of the free market's capacity to do its thing. A golden opportunity awaits.

I'm sceptical about the conference because there is little concern about Australia's current, outdated electricity system being so inefficient that two-thirds of the energy in the fuel is wasted before it gets used at homes and workplaces. The creation of a liberalised, national electricity market based upon apparently cheap sources of power has closed off to the decentralization of the market, and to the generation of electricity close to where it is actually needed. There is no public commitment to electricity being created by solar panels on everyday buildings, with the electricity being used directly by the house or workplace, and the surplus being fed into a local network.

Another golden opportunity for the free market to do the task set it: renew the outdated infrastructure without relying on government intervention, subsidy and corporate welfare.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:16 AM | | Comments (2)


Lenin's Tomb recently posted on nuclear power, arguing that it is no cleaner than other forms of power generation. The truly safe and efficient forms of power generation are portrayed by a stagnating incumbent market as radical and far too expensive for rational consideration.

Thanks for that. I see that Lenin's Tomb also talks about the transition to liberalised energy markets dependent upon apparently cheap sources of power.

In Britain, as in Australia, there is no long-term plan for future energy use. Nor has New Labour in Britain dealt with the inadequacies of the energy market--just like the Howard conservatives in Australia.

This strikes a chord:

Because they [New Labour) postponed difficult decisions about promoting renewable resources and energy efficiency, and because they reneged on their environmental pledges, New Labour are prepared to expose us all to the risks of a new generation of Chernobyls. It is obvious that Blair will be remembered for the catastrophe of Iraq; but the lurch towards nuclear power presents with another singularly ill-considered and hazardous scheme to find magic solutions where none exist.

We are lurching towards nuclear power in Australia as a stop gap measure.