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ALP: lacking vision or principle? « Previous | |Next »
February 8, 2011

So far economic growth has gone hand in hand with the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in industrialized countries such as Australia, as they have an energy system that relies almost exclusively on fossil fuels.

So the Earth is warming up. The regularity and severity of recent events--drought, floods, cyclones and bush fires are increasingly a result of global warming in that a warmed up world leads to stronger force cyclones, more severe floods and more intense bushfires.


Climate change certainty is needed for increased investment in generator capacity. The trouble is that we are in the midst of a renaissance of coal, because oil and gas (sic) have become more expensive, but coal has not.

It is the national climate policy uncertainty that remains the major factor in preventing investments in renewable energy and low carbon sources of energy. As Frank Wolak observes in The Guardian:

The choice is stark: either we can continue to wait to implement the perfect climate policy, and in the meantime pay higher prices for oil, and watch countries like China that are able to provide climate policy certainty to investors move forward with this new industrial development; or we could commit to a modest climate policy and so unleash the new technologies and new jobs made possible by this more favourable investment environment.

Australia is going to have bit the bullet sometime because it needs to invest in much more electricity capacity to meet rising demand.

We need energy from renewables, and we need jobs. Renewables can deliver both. The 2020 target is quite low--20 per cent of our electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2020--not the replacement of the fossil fuel energy infrastructure. So we are stuck with power stations, cars and homes that use carbon-based energy sources.

The big miners and their publicists are not convinced by the need to invest in wind and solar power They say that the real solution for cost effective and reliable electricity in an industrial society is to go nuclear is their spin. They add what happens when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining. The lights go out. So renewables cannot provide base load power. Only nuclear can do that. The bottom line is that these will not be privately funded--they are hugely expensive, dangerous and will take too long to build.

The problem with this kind of spin---myth making--- is that nothing will happen when the wind stops blowing simply because it never stops blowing, suddenly, over the whole of Australia. The sun does stop shining at night, but that means the national electricity grid or network requires diverse sources of energy--an energy mix.

Is the policy to run down existing carbon-polluting energy sources rapidly and to replace them with atmosphere-friendly equivalents? No. The political reality is that Australia is going to build new fossil fuel power stations in the near future. It's the light touch in energy policy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:11 AM | | Comments (7)


"ALP: lacking vision or principle?"

Both but, IMO, the real problem is it is lacking courage.

Lacking the courage to tackle the issues, the courage to tackle the big vested interest groups [big coal, the mining giants, irrigation lobby, the churches, etc] and the courage to tackle the mass media, Murdoch in particular but not only.

You can forget about the COALition they are essentially a sideshow of the power groups, tackle them [the power groups that is] front on, loudly, clearly and the ALP, and Oz, would be much better off.

Too hard apparently.

I don't like the word 'vision' much. I suppose what it means does Gillard have a picture of what Australia could be in the future. Or how could Australia be better than it is now.

Gillard does talk a lot about getting an education and getting those out of work into a job because work is good for your self worth etc.

Sensible and pragmatic but what sort of education---a trade? Or work in what sort of job---a coal fired power station? Or an agri business that requires lots of water?

She doesn't talk much a jobs in an information economy despite all the investment in the national broadband network.

She talks in terms of the 20th century not the 21st century

Does the ALP have principles these days? Traditionally it used to be social justice but that is rather muted isn't it. It's more about economic growth and more economic growth. That solves the problem of social justice ie, poverty in western Sydney.

Perhaps more dams and hydroelectric installations will be part of the solution.

There are quite a few jobs available in the irrigation regions, now that ample water has returned. Can anyone argue that irrigators have deprived the Murray system this season? Instead of snipeing, the irrigators should be getting credit for harnessing a renewable resource. Albeit a mere fraction of the flow.

Surely the population can't be too far away from realising that irrigators had very little access to water in the last decade, when there was none, and little impact when there is plenty. The is obviously an impact having major storages on the rivers, but who in their right mind would forego the flood mitigating capacities of such.

Strange bird Gillard. Comes from that narrow Vic CFMEU/logging type base and seems well inscribed of their anti green pro resource sector mythology.
Someone else in the labor party hung up on anti green mythologies, rather than a good social democratic social critique.

Gillard's vision is that she is a reformer in the tradition of Hawke and Keating. In her speech to CEDA on 1 February, Gillard argued:

Through good decisions and hard choices, we built an open and competitive economy based on skills, productivity and innovation. I am a product of that era. That is why I know that our continued economic success depends on continuous reform. Reform to nurture us through the resources boom. But also reform to take us beyond the resources boom. Nurturing the boom and sharing the growth won’t just happen it will take national leadership and decision-making. Reform is essential if we are to realise our aspirations to progress as individuals and as a nation.

So far we have the rhetoric of reform rather than real policy reform itself.

In her Ceda speech this year Gillard does say that:

But we have been lucky too, blessed by a resources boom which, matched with hard work, is sustaining much of our growth.We are the lucky country, but we are so much more than that as well.I am determined to drive a permanent reshaping of our economy so that our success far outlasts our luck – and I believe we are up to it. A high tech, high skill, clean energy economy that is self-sustaining beyond our reliance on mineral exports.That’s the future I want our children and grandchildren to thrive in.Such a future is in our hands, and it will be defined by the way we handle the current minerals boom.Get it wrong, and we falter. Get it right, and we set the nation up for decades to come.

There we have it: " A high tech, high skill, clean energy economy that is self-sustaining beyond our reliance on mineral exports."

All we have so far is the NBN