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phrasing-out of fossil fuels? « Previous | |Next »
January 9, 2012

The coal industry (ie the big mining mining companies) still call the shot on energy policy in Australia. This is in spite of the carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants being the biggest source of man made CO2 emissions, or the awareness by the Gillard Government that we need to keep global temperature rise below 2ºC (compared to pre-industrial levels). Climate change is, in the words of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen.


It would appear that the government has in part been seduced by an illusion of “clean coal” as part of Australia's energy future. “Clean coal” is still a major public relations offensive by the coal industry that includes a number of dubious “technological fixes” that they claim make burning coal safe for the climate.

It's largely a major public relations offensive because the coal industry is not that serious in terms of investing in "clean coal" and the technology won’t be ready for at least another 20 years. So we just have some vague promises that cover up the blocs and resistance to the reform to cut carbon emissions and achieving economic growth by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and energy efficiency.

As Shaun Murray points out in It is the coal barons, not activists, who threaten society:

the current federal government legislation to buy out and close 2000 megawatts of brown-coal generation, and no doubt caused political fallout for the coal industry and its political allies. It is unsurprising that the coal industry would flex its political muscle in response, demanding tougher laws to deter such effective advocacy...For years, it has successfully curtailed government action to combat climate change.

Emissions from energy make up about two-thirds of Australia’s total carbon footprint and are set to skyrocket if we don’t take further action. Coal is inherently a dirty fuel and it is the most polluting way to generate electricity. In Australia, open cast mines make up 80 percent of mines and results in environmental damages to water supplies and destroyed habitats yet it is environmental activists who are seen as a threat to energy security.

It is winemakers, horsebreeders, local residents and citizens are now saying no to coal mine expansion and new coal fired power stations and yes to a transition to renewable energy. In contrast, Martin Ferguson, the federal resources mInister, assumes green and growth cannot go together--he doesn't believe in green growth.

Likewise the free market crowd for whom freedom means governments getting out of the way of corporations and that any regulation leads us down Hayek’s road to serfdom. For them climate science is kryptonite since the reality that humans are causing the climate to warm, with potentially catastrophic results, really does demand radical government intervention in the market, as well as collective action on an unprecedented scale. ZClimate denialism has become a core identity issue on the right.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:44 PM | | Comments (4)


It used to be Reds under the beds, now it's Greenies in the garden..

energy security for Martin Ferguson means pandering to dirty coal interests.

The heat-trapping gases released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels are already causing temperatures to increase. If we are not on a radically different energy path by the end of this decade, we are in for a world of pain.

for the free market right climate change is a Trojan horse designed to abolish capitalism and replace it with some kind of eco-socialism.

It's a high emotion issue for those on the right:---it means living in Soviet-style tenements and surrender their 4 wheel drives. For them it is an issue that ids core to his or her identity--just like low taxes and opposition to abortion.