September 3, 2013
The arrival of a conservative Abbott Government does mean, as Clive Hamilton points out, the appointment of charlatans to senior advisory positions on the environment, the hollowing out of the federal climate change department, winding back environmental legislation, including the Renewable Energy Target, abolition of carbon pricing and rising emissions as the Direct Action Plan fails.
Less is going to be done to address climate change, or shift the Australian economy to a low carbon one. Australia will not take the necessary steps with respect to structural change to reduce its emissions by 25-40% by 2020, or encourage the new energy industries. Old Australia will rule during the period of an Abbott Government, and it will its political power to to set up extractive economic institutions for its own benefit.
By old Australia will rule I mean Big Coal such as the global mining company barons – BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Xstrata, Anglo American and Peabody – who have been joined “by a dozen or so medium-sized players”. To these are added the familiar names of the local nouveau-riche – Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer etc.
The spell of fossil fuels and the carbon curse (substantial fossil fuel industries that are heavy carbon polluters) will remain as coal mining expansion continues apace in Australia.and the warming climate increasingly shapes our history.
The main hope is that the market will drive the shift to a low carbon economy in that the cost of renewable sources of energy is plummeting while the costs and risks of investing in coal-fired power generation are increasing.