Saturday, December 4

Eight years, 20 policies: how Australian leaders have wavered and wavered on the climate | Australian politics

The consistency is so last decade, don’t you think?

And you mea guilt? I never met them.

In the last eight years of the Coalition rule, there are more than 20 different climate and energy policies, which have been announced with fanfare before taking a back seat, or simply being destroyed entirely.

Here is a brief summary of what the last eight years have been like.

2013-14 – Direct Action (ish)

After Tony Abbott repealed Labor’s carbon price, his new administration replaced the measures with the Direct Action policy. It is described as “a scheme that will incentivize companies to reduce their carbon emissions and, at the same time, minimize costs to the Australian economy and industry.” The emissions reduction fund is a key component, created to “directly support CO2 emission reduction activities by company and industry ”. The original idea behind the ERF is that the government will pay for projects that will reduce CO2 emissions “at the lowest cost”.

Its suitability and impact are questioned from the outset and it has limited impact in the real world.

2017 – ‘This is coal’

Scott Morrison brings a lump of coal to Parliament and yells, “This is coal. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. It won’t hurt you ”, before passing him by the front bench where Barnaby Joyce cradles him. At the same time, the Turnbull government insists it is taking climate policy seriously.

2017 – Clean Energy Target Review

Malcolm Turnbull embarks on the design of a new energy policy to improve system reliability and reduce electricity emissions. Chief Scientist Alan Finkel suggests that the government adopt a clean energy goal. That proposal lasts about five minutes. Rejection of the clean energy target leads to the national energy guarantee, marking the end of Prime Minister Turnbull.

2017-18 – National energy guarantee (1, 2 and 3)

Mentioned for the first time in late 2017, the Neg imposes two obligations on energy retailers: to supply sufficient amounts of “reliable” energy to the market and to reduce emissions between 2020 and 2030.

Scott Morrison with a lump of coal in Parliament
‘Don’t be afraid’: Scott Morrison brandishes a lump of coal in parliament. Photograph: Mike Bowers / The Guardian

Turnbull wants to legislate the mechanism, but the proposal is embroiled in leadership tensions. With the right-wingers moving against him, he proposes to implement elements of the Neg through regulation rather than legislation.

When Morrison takes office as prime minister, he abandons the emission reduction component of Neg entirely.

2018: RET liquidation (and the no-policy policy)

In 2013, Abbott tried to act against Labor’s carbon price and renewable energy target. This failed, but the plan was criticized by the Coalition for bringing too much intermittent renewable energy to the power grid.

Five years later, with the RET expiring in 2020, Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor says there will be no policy to replace it. “The truth of the matter is that the renewable energy target will be lowered starting in 2020, will peak in 2020, and we will not replace it with anything,” he says.

That contradicts advice from the energy security board, which says investors and the market need political certainty to ensure orderly investment.

2018-19 – Default energy prices and big clubs

With the new climate policy in the basket too hard, the Coalition is focusing on energy prices. At this point, the Morrison government has not yet ruled out investing in more coal stations.

The “big stick” policies are designed to give the government powers to divide energy companies if consumer prices do not fall. In the end, the government backs down from its threat of disinvestment of powers, and the stick becomes more of a twig amid internal and external discord over the idea. Divestment powers range from full ministerial discretion, to Australian Competition and Consumers Commission advice and ministerial discretion, to no divestment powers.

A predetermined market offer for energy prices is also introduced, which forces utilities to reduce their opening offers to customers and makes it easier for consumers to find cheaper electricity plans. All of this is geared towards the upcoming 2019 elections, which the Coalition wins.

2018-20: coal is still king. Something like

Faced with a possible explosion from Nationals, Taylor raises the idea that taxpayers compensate new coal projects against any kind of carbon price.

“What we are saying is that the risks that the government needs to absorb in order to obtain investments in reliable generation, we are going to try to absorb,” he says. “We need the investment.”

Power companies are moving away from coal as generation assets age and renewables have fallen in price. But the Nationals want to extend coal generation. A showdown with private power companies is escalating over the future of its aging coal assets. The Nationals propose to the taxpayer the subscription of new generation of coal. But that shows a red line for liberals in metropolitan seats.

Angus taylor
The Minister of Energy, Angus Taylor. Photograph: Mike Bowers / The Guardian

There are internal tensions over carbon risk and banks are refusing to finance new coal projects. The Nationals go to war with the banks, accusing them of pointing out virtues. But liberals argue that the banks are acting prudently.

2019-21 – Nuclear power could be the queen. Maybe

In yet another attempt to quell rumors within the National party, some suggest that nuclear power is a possible answer to everyone’s problems. A parliamentary inquiry is established to study an Australian nuclear power industry, which government MPs support and non-government MPs do not. Australia has a moratorium on nuclear power on the one hand, on the other, there is no guarantee of a commercial return, given the cost. And that’s even with the carbon price, which the Morrison government opposes. Nuclear energy is not carbon neutral and it is not a renewable energy (uranium is finite).

Still, the nuclear debate continues. Now with the defense of News Corp.

2019 – No changes necessary

At a press conference prior to his speech to the UN in New York, Morrison says his administration’s record on climate has been “misrepresented” by the media.

When asked if Australia intends to update its emission reduction commitments as required by the five-year review process of the Paris agreement, it suggests that Australia’s target for 2030 is fixed: “We are meeting the commitments that we have made. and do you know why? That is what I tell the Australian people. “

2019: $ 1 billion for hydropower, gas and batteries

It turns out that not having a stable climate policy is not good when it comes to investments. Then the government turns to Clean Energy Finance Corporation and offers up to $ 1 billion “To support the Government’s investment in new energy generation, storage and transmission infrastructure, including eligible projects shortlisted in the Underwriting New Generation Investments (UNGI) program.” (Not the coal ones though).

The investment is a sea change from 2015, when Abbott tried to abolish the fund and then, when the Senate did not allow it, prohibited it from investing in large wind and solar projects.

2020-21 – Gas-Driven Recovery

Of course, this is still Australia, so the clean energy fund and the Australian renewable energy agency change their mandates so that they can be used to fund and support fossil fuel projects, as long as there is any carbon reduction project (up to now failed). attached.

“There are no good or bad emissions reductions,” says Morrison. There are only emission reductions. Emission reductions by different means do not have greater or lesser moral qualities ”.

A climate rally in Sydney in September 2020
A climate rally in Sydney in September 2020. Photograph: Dean Lewins / AAP

This is mainly due to the “gas-driven recovery” that the government decides will remove Australia from Covid.

Gas is, of course, a fossil fuel. The gas recovery is the brainchild of the Covid recovery advisory committee headed by Nev Power, a former mining executive.

2020-21 – Technology Roadmap

The last two years have been about changing roadmaps and horizons, so it makes sense that a technology roadmap would be created to shape Australia’s climate policy. The main takeaway? “Technology, not taxes.” Which ignores the fact that no one is proposing a tax, because this is not 2010 and the world has moved on.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change abandons its latest report, which concludes that we are almost out of time to act meaningfully on the climate crisis. Increasing the pressure on Australia from its key allies and trading partners – the US, Europe and the UK – to commit to doing something. So far, what Australia has floated is considered insufficient.

Apparently a real plan is looming now, but he has to get past the Nationals first. There is a meeting on Sunday to discuss the plan, which is meant to finally commit Australia to a net zero emissions target by 2050. No one mentions 2030.

2021 – Glasgow is already underway

After first saying that his job was to stay and talk to Australians about the plan, not the international community, Morrison confirms that he will attend the UN climate summit next month, where he will present Australia’s climate plan to the world.

It is worth noting that the government is focused on everything related to 2050, while the world is moving towards medium-term goals for 2030. That debate is not yet resolved in Australia.

It is also worth bearing in mind that net zero emissions does not mean that there are no emissions.

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