February 5, 2013
Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy Jr, in an interview with Renew Economy makes some excellent points about the fossil fuel industry in the context of global warming.
Gary Sauer-Thompson, Playford B (coal-fired) power station, Port Augusta, South Australia
Kennedy says that the rules by which energy is regulated were written to favour the fossil fuel industry:
The (IEA) recently identified that the global subsidies, the direct subsidies from governments to the fossil fuel industry, stood at more than $585 billion a year, whereas the subsidies to renewables are a less than $80 billion. Why should the oil industry, the most profitable industry in the history of the planet, be getting half a trillion in subsidies a year? ... I always say wherever you see large-scale pollution, you will also see the subversion of democracy, you will see the compromise of public officials, the capture of the agencies they are supposed to protect, they become sock puppets of the industries they are supposed to regulate. You see that in the political system, the kowtowing of the politicians who become indentured servants in the US and in Canada.
And in Australia as well.
Kennedy says that the incumbents know they can’t publicly come out against wind and solar, because that’s unpopular, but they can undermine wind and solar by undermining business reliability. What the renewable energy really need is long-term faith in some of these government programs. Like any industry, the renewable energy needs certainty--not just renewable energy credits. Kennedy continues:
If the subsidies for the incumbents disappeared, we would drown them in a marketplace with a level playing field. They have the advantage of incumbency, the advantage of political control, and they are able to regulate the political system, to continue to externalise their cost and get huge subsidies from the government....if we can rationalise our free market economy, so that we have truly free market capitalism, where everyone is forced to internalise their costs. The market place decides what the cheapest form of energy is. Then we can quickly eliminate coal and oil, because they are so much more expensive than any other fuel.
He says that we are going to see the kind of technology growth curves in solar energy that we saw in the computer industry. Solar panels are akin to computer chips: the more we make, the cheaper they will get.