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The GPRS « Previous | |Next »
November 23, 2009

The big news in Canberra and politics this week will be the passing of the emissions trading scheme (CPRS) by the Senate. All the indications--as of this morning--- are that the GPRS legislation will be passed by the Senate. No doubt Minchin will probably use the filibuster tactic as his best chance of stopping the CPRS before Copenhagen, many Coalition Senators will cross the floor. There will be blood on the floor as the Liberal climate changed denialists, who don't have the numbers, threaten to blow the show up if Turnbull doesn't do what they want. High drama.

This signing into law will happen in spite of the theatrics of the deep divisions within Coalition, the forever opposed noise from the denialists, the tactics of those right wing Liberals obstructing the bill to protect the coal industry, the now naked threats from coal-fired power generators, such as Truenergy and International Power. Bring on the heat they cry in unison.


The only surprise will be how much the Rudd Government concedes to the Coalition in giving extra subsidies to the coal fired power stations in order to safe-guard the power industry-- protect even the dinosaurs from another era such as Hazelwood and Yallourn. Rudd + Co will bend over a long way in giving the power industry even more free pollution permits and to extend the compensation beyond 2015. The Brumby state government in Victoria wants that outcome as well.

No need to worry though. The CPRS is not designed to reduce greenhouse gases and it won’t do that. Hence the justified opposition from the Greens. The rorts are too great. This legislation won't achieve the levels of emissions cuts promised, nor will it drive the major technological innovations that are needed to shift our economy on to a more low-carbon path.

The only game in town is to clean up existing coal-fired power stations and make the new ones cleaner. Clean coal is the future, so let's roll out the new coal fired power stations to meet increased demand in NSW.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:18 AM | | Comments (19)


Let's make it simple.

Close down the brown coal generators such as Hazelwood and Yallourn in the La Trobe Valley with minimal compensation for the owners. Replace them with gas fired generators.

International Power, owner of the Hazelwood brown coal-fired station,has said that without additional compensation, the company would "walk away, simply exit the Australian market, hand Hazelwood to an administrator or try to recover some residual value from its asset by selling on to the spot market.

Don't we want Hazelwood mothballed? Isn't that the point of the exercise?

Any report positing clean coal as a climate change solution superior to gas and later on more renewables/energy conservation is beyond delusional.

I see that Senator Fielding has changed the justification for his opposition to an ETS from the climate change science not being plausible to it being economic suicide to act before Copenhagen. It's the tactic of delay delay delay.

I agree. Hazelwood is an ancient, filthy plant that should have closed years ago. The power generators in Victoria should be investing in renewables or gas-fired power.

It looks as if Rudd + Wong have the basis of an agreement with Macfarlane and therefore Turnbull. It is then formally signed off by cabinet and the ALP caucus tonight, it is then handballed to Turnbull to get it through his shadow cabinet and the party tomorrow. It seems like he has the numbers to get it through.

The issue is how much damage that will inflict as he does it, and how good he is at repairing the damage.

Indeed Annon. Considering the ETS will not be responsible for the loss of one molecule, or whatever they are, of carbon pollution, the politics of the thing is the only show in town. They should have called in the Coalition Reduction Scheme, because that's really all it is.

Alan Kohler in Business Spectator makes a good argument in his Rudd's plan for cheap power:

It’s possible that Penny Wong will hold to her line that “energy security” is not at risk (because even if Truenergy and International Power go broke, the banks will keep the generators going), but I doubt it. The political benefit of doing a deal today far outweighs the cost of more compensation.

The political benefit is to bust up the Coalition by hammering a wedge into their body:
Maybe Turnbull will decide that “unity trumps policy”, as one Liberal frontbencher put it to the SMH yesterday, and follow Tony Abbott down the path of pragmatism by walking away from a deal so he can campaign against emissions trading. Or maybe he will triumphantly carry the day in both the Shadow Cabinet and the Party Room, brandishing his deal. But neither of those things seems likely.

So it looks like all the government has to do to bust up the coalition and destroy Turnbull is to do a deal with Ian Macfarlane today.

Kohler asks: 'Was the CPRS always designed to achieve such a glorious outcome?'

Alan Kohler asks: 'Was the CPRS always designed to achieve such a glorious outcome?'

Of course.

Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald says that Copenhagen will be all spin and no substance.

We are about to see an advanced case of ''agreementism'' between world leaders at the Copenhagen climate change meeting....Nothing in any such agreement carries any real force. Only the countries that already wanted to act will act, and the rest will just sit around and watch. But there will certainly be agreement.

The politicians will state political intent, and then keep talking about a legal treaty for later. It's called a two step process.

The dissident Liberals fall into two camps---those who oppose an ETS and those who oppose an ETS and also want to dump Turnbull as leader. They've gone into a comedy land with Kevin Andrews allowing himself to be used as a stalking horse for the very unhappy and angry anti-Turnbull forces.

Turnbull will get his way on the ETS and there won't been a leadership spill. Andrews has no chance.

Nigel Lawson in the Australian says:

I have no idea whether the majority scientific view (and it is far from a consensus) is correct. Certainly, it is curious that, whereas their models predicted an acceleration in global warming this century as the growth in emissions accelerated, so far this century there has been no further warming at all. But the present majority view may still be right.

If he has no basis for judging the truth of climate change, then it is prudent to accept that science. That's better than ignorance or saying that it is all fraud. Lawson does this, as he says:
Even if it is, however, that cannot determine the right policy choice. For a warmer climate brings benefits as well as disadvantages. Even if there is a net disadvantage, which is uncertain, it is far less than the economic cost (let alone the human cost) of decarbonisation.

It is true that a warmer climate brings benefits as well as disadvantages. But arguing that this disadvantage is far less than the economic + human cost of decarbonisation is contra the arguments of the Stern Report. Fair enough.

However, Lawson gives us no argument as to why we should reject Stern. So much for Lawson's claim that he wants an open and reasoned debate on this issue.

Turnbull and McFarlane have got the deal with Rudd + Wong through the Shadow Cabinet as expected. Will Minchin manage to defeat the ETS in the party room and so help to destroy Turnbull's leadership? It is a marathon four-hour meeting that will finish just before Question Time.

The GPRS deal involves even more concessions to the coal fired power generators and the trade exposed industries. There is a $6 billion taxpayer-funded price tag to double the assistance to the coal sector and the electricity industry.

The coal sector now gets to $1.5 billion; the total value of permits to the electricity generators industry is increased from $3.3 billion to $7.3 billion; there is a further $1.1 billion to assist medium and large manufacturing and mining businesses with CPRS-related increases in electricity prices in the early years of the Scheme.

There are probably lots of other concessions to industry (gas + food processing?) all at the expense of compensation for the household sector.

The ETS is a very bad policy process --one of the worst for a long time. It's a naked rort. that will encourage the states (WA, Victoria) to recommission or refurbishing their coal fired stations or to build new ones (Queensland +NSW). It does not encourage billions of dollars in investment in renewable energy. Coal rules.

The Coalition party room meeting has broken up for question time but is expected to resume afterwards. The body language at Question Time would be interesting to watch.

I watched a bit of Question Time in the House today, including Kevin Rudd expounding on his action versus non-action re climate change. He talks the talk re the necessary reform for the national interest but he doesn't walk the walk.

His virtuous action--the revised GPRS ---is useless, and yet it is still supported by the ACF, still overly impressed by the Rudd's ambitious unconditional 5% reduction target. Clearly the ACF is even more of an an outpost of the ALP than I thought.

The GPRS--revised or not--- has failure written all over it.It's an exercise in bank rolling the heavily protected coal industry. The message is one of roll on coal forever.

Why was Tim Flannery so happy about everything on Lateline? To hear him you'd have thought there'd been giant strides forward, rather than a convoluted welfare program for the filthy.

maybe Flannery needs to spend some time a hanging out in the Liberal Party room to get a reality check.They are still going in Canberra and its around 33 for and 40 against a deal on the last count. No leadership spills though. Turnbull declares victory without a vote. So Minchin wins the partyroom battle but Turnbull adds shadow cabinet to his numbers and crashes through.Some are trying to reconvene the partyroom latter tonight.

Amazing. All that support for their polluting coal friends from Rudd + Wong and the majority in the Liberal Partyroom are still not happy. What more handouts to prop up and entrench the existing polluting economy do they want? Don't they realize that Rudd is more spin over substance and that his policy is not science based at all. Clearly the Liberal partyroom doesn't want change.

If it was D-Day for Turnbull, then Turnbull survives a seven hour party meeting, beats the Rudd wedge, and gets the GPRS through the party room. It seems that Andrew Robb did Turnbull and McFarlane no favours by rejecting Labor’s emissions trading deal because the Opposition had not got enough from its negotiations with the Government!

However, the Liberal party is now deeply divided--almost split down the middle judging by what happened in the partyroom. It is understood the votes were running against accepting the Government's take it or leave it emissions trading offer by about 40-33 before Turnbull made the call that there was a clearly a majority in favour of the position the shadow cabinet had recommended.

Turnbull is the leader of the Liberal Party. By all accounts the Liberal Party is in disarray. How long before there is a leadership spill from the angry conservative anti-Turnbull camp? They smell blood and what they really want is for Turnbull to go.

More Liberal Party angst. There will be a leadership spill on Thursday morning. Who stands against Turnbull? Will it be Andrews? Abbott?

It was bound to happen. It was what Minchin has been angling for--to wound Turnbull and then bring him down.