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energy pathways « Previous | |Next »
October 24, 2006

It is well accepted in energy policy circles that compared to the coal option for energy in Australia, nuclear energy is not economically viable. In fact, virtually no alternative source of energy can compete with coal in Australia - whilst coal-fired energy plants are not required either to do anything about global warming themselves, or to pay for someone else to do so. So the Howard Government has a problem:


The Howard Government has provided little support for renewable energy sources even though Australia could -- should -- have been a world leader in this regard. Australia has the expertise, the climate, the natural resources. The federal government, because of its strong support for the fossil fuel industry, has not been willing to take seriously the need to invest in an alternative route to cleaner energy.The states (SA and Victoria) have picked it as best they can.

What can be done then? Whart pathways of reform are available?

Again there is a consensus. Jim Douglas in an op-ed in the Canberra Times spells it out:

First, it must develop meaningful carbon emission targets for all heavy-emission activities in Australia, via taxes or permits, and then establish a trading system that will allow those industries and technologies which prove themselves best at reducing emissions to be rewarded, and those who perform badly to be penalised. Australians have already indicated, in polling data and otherwise, that they are willing to pay more for energy, and this should be seen as a gift for any government that really wishes to lead effectively on this issue.

However, the Prime Minster, and his economic ministers, Peter Costello and Senator Minchin, continue to rule out carbon taxes, and the associated options of emissions trading that could form around these - even though this is the only immediate route to lowering emissions that we have available.

The Howard Government has been captured by the fossil fuel industry. Douglas says that there is consensus on another pathway:

Second, it needs to sponsor the sort of research and policy work that can answer important questions about the best options to pursue to maximise our greenhouse reductions (and minimise the costs to ourselves of doing so). There are difficult and complex choices to be made here: how much effort should be expended on amelioration of drought and land degradation effects, compared to improving climate change abatement approaches? What sort of policies will work in this new environment?

All the effort and energy currently goes into drought relief, nuclear energy, and geosequestration. Research into renewables is progressively cut so that renewable energy research centres close down.

That is why the Howard Government looks stale and out of touch. Ity is being left behind by events.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:30 AM | | Comments (0)