World waiting for “suicidal” Australia to wake up on climate

Via Domain:

The world is waiting for a “suicidal” Australia to reverse its stance on climate change, says one of the world’s most senior diplomats.

Christiana Figueres, who was executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change through the Paris Agreement talks, said the world expected more from Australia in the lead-up to the so-called COP26 climate talks to be held in Glasgow next November.

“The climate wars that have been going on in Australia for over a decade now are just – honestly they are such a suicidal situation because Australia… holds such promise with renewable energy,” she told John Connor, chief executive of the Carbon Market Institute, in a conversation recorded for the Australasian Emissions Reductions Summit, which begins online on Wednesday.

We might garner some more sympathy regarding China if we were obstructive on climate. Not to mention the end of the world.

NSW has turned the corner, also at Domain:

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean says his government will not be taking calls by federal Coalition backbenchers for a new coal-fired power plant in the state seriously after they savaged his low-emissions plan on Tuesday.

The backbenchers moved to reignite energy wars within the federal government, urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison to tear up a $2 billion energy deal with NSW in the wake of the state’s ambitious new clean energy road map.

Queensland Nationals senator Matt Canavan led the party room attacks on the Berejiklian government’s energy plan on Tuesday morning after NSW Parliament last week passed legislation that promotes low emissions energy to replace coal-fired power stations.

Only if you want to lock in higher power costs for QLD:

Australian energy costs compared

In five years it will be much cheaper:

Price of solar and batteries over next 5 years

If it goes the way we think it will, renewables plus full storage will be more than 60% cheaper than coal and gas:

Price of solar and batteries over next 5 years

Coal is dead. Get over it.

David Llewellyn-Smith

Comments

  1. We’d be better off without Kelly and the Nationals being given much ear.

    That Canavan, jeepers.

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      Canavan, Kelly and Barnaby were the voices raised on this in the party room.
      The bleating bellyachers of a dying industry.

    • Remove supply from China and Australia has no renewable energy industry. (or a super expensive/uneconomic one from Europe!)

  2. I keep scratching my head how we keep getting away with things, being, ahem, a bit of an ordinary bunch…

    But, if the LNP finally see the bleedingly obvious light that renewable energy isn’t a political issue, and really now overwhelmingly just a tech and economic issue; then, I think we will have one heck of a set of rainbows hit us up the arse…again…

    The pace of change on the energy front is stunning. And, there is astonishing amounts of local and foreign capital (many hundreds of billions of dollars!) waiting for sufficient political surety to invest in the myriad of renewables-related energy and chemical processes in Australia.

    I honestly think that, overall, it might make the mining boom look small, and even underpin a moderate manufacturing renaissance.

    Australia: rainbows and unicorns central. We don’t deserve it, but if the LNP stop being such petty Luddites, then the capital will flow at an astonishing pace, and transform the economy rapidly and richly.

    My 2c

    • TheLambKingMEMBER

      But, if the LNP finally see the bleedingly obvious light that renewable energy isn’t a political issue

      It has never been political – this is all about $ from donors and jobs for the boys after political careers. Politics is just a cover.

    • Its a no-go because Australia gave away all its natural gas and now has insufficient affordable energy to get all this inductry off the ground… shame!

      • Australia gave away ALL its natural gas?

        Can someone provide some references to validate this?

        • What I mean to say (and it goes without saying) is Australia’s federal government has permitted large gas companies to export the lion’s share of Australia’s (eastern seaboard) natural gas out of Curtis Island, without requiring them to first reserve a quota for the domestic market. Its called domestic gas reservation policy, and Australia has squandered billions of dollars of annual prosperity by not implementing one.

          The losers? Every Australian and all their kids.

          The winner? Santos, Origin and Shell

          The treasonous bstrds who permitted this? All Federal government ministers who signed off on the plants on Curtis Island without implementing domestic reservation

    • I’d love to think so but that shipped has probably sailed. Around the turn of Century we had a genuinely world-leading competitive advantage in solar. And we just let it go…

  3. bolstroodMEMBER

    “We might garner some more sympathy regarding China if we were obstructive on climate. ”
    Is this a typing error David ?
    The Climate situation will need a global effort , that will necessarily include us and China.
    It may be the only common ground we share.

    • China doesn’t GAF about climate – that much is IMMEDIATELY APPARENT.

      That they would like the west to lower their living standards BEFORE they make a commensurate effort is also apparent.

      We need to PRO FORMA our climate goals to take account of the fact we are taking so much of the surplus population of the world (the highest % of any OECD country – beat that virtue signalling Germans!!).

      • blacktwin997MEMBER

        It sure doesn’t. That and the fact that it is the single largest producer country of greenhouse gases (~25% of global output) means that unless China actually steps up and makes solid, permanent and verifiable reductions, nothing we do here (~1% of global output) will mean much in the end. And importing Chinese here doesn’t help either.

  4. Not sure coal is dead. The State Bank of India looks set to invest AUD$1B in Carmichael.
    https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/sbi-set-to-offer-rs-5000-cr-loan-to-adani-coal-project-in-australia-report-120111701051_1.html

    Why?
    Such a conundrum with no simple solution.
    World Bank figures show around 200 million people in India still lack access to electricity…
    True that coal-fired power gen emissions are horrid, however hydrocarbons have a good track record of power generation/keeping the lights on for over 1,000,000,000 humans in India. If they are to extend this luxury to all 1.3Billion humans it will be some engineering feat to achieve without hydrocarbons.
    Balancing quality of life and the lived experience with emissions reduction isn’t easy in densely populated regions on earth… and its not even a matter of switching to say nuclear, India already has over 20 nuclear reactors in operation, and another 7 under construction, and today nuclear accounts for approx 4% of total generation capacity.
    Solar PV ? From 2010 to 2020 India has gone from having virtually zero to 35GW generation capacity. Today this 35GW capacity accounts for 3.6% of total generation in India.
    So all I can make of India’s apparent ambitions for securing coal is they are scrambling to grow their power generation capacity from all sources to bring some 200million of their people into the age of electricity.
    Hence why coal will die a slower death than you think while this clock still rips: population.org
    #EnergyPoverty #population #EnergyTransition

    • Population is the big one. Any discussion of emissions or climate goals without reference to it is only a partial solution / no solution.

      • Population is mostly irrelevant to contemporary debate because a) it can’t be adjusted quickly enough to be useful and b) acting on the things that might possibly be adjusted quickly enough will almost certainly result in population fixing itself (one way or the other).

          • Substantial action to address climate change needs to be taken on a timescale of decades.

            Meaningful reduction of global population (billions fewer people), will take generations to centuries, or involve conflict and suffering on a nearly inconceivable scale.

          • The nice thing is, drsmithy, if we screw up the environment bad enough, the suffering on a global scale will happen to us.

        • You are correct that reducing the population alone would be too slow to do much good. What you are ignoring is that our elite and their creatures in Parliament can undermine anything else that we do and make the problem a lot worse very quickly by importing huge numbers of people from poor countries. The migrants themselves will dramatically increase their environmental footprint, since higher consumption is the main motivation for emigration, and their children will consume like everyone else in our now much bigger population.

          Totes put it well in a previous thread. Lets assume that our negative environmental impact, both locally and globally, is 10 on some arbitrary scale. The Greens manage to get their environmental policies adopted and reduce that impact to 8. Now they sit idly by while the neoliberal parties double the population. The total impact is now 16. Some improvement.

          • Totes put it well in a previous thread. Lets assume that our negative environmental impact, both locally and globally, is 10 on some arbitrary scale. The Greens manage to get their environmental policies adopted and reduce that impact to 8. Now they sit idly by while the neoliberal parties double the population. The total impact is now 16. Some improvement.

            Of course, since the population would have been doubled anyway, the alternative would have been a… 25 ? So still better off.

            The first problem with your argument that ‘Parliament can do whatever it wants’ is that it applies equally to anything you want to suggest. The second problem is that climate change is a global issue and any (vaguely realistic) change in population here is irrelevant on that scale (in either direction).

            There are probably a billion people who will be lifted into vaguely western living standards in the third world over the next decade or two and you’re trying to argue that a few – heck, let’s even say ten – million coming to Australia will make any difference ? It’s just silly.

            Not only can nothing useful can be done about climate change via population from a practical perspective, it’s an inherently risky topic that can turn toxic in the blink of an eye so it’s a political disaster as well.

        • If you add up all of the countries that are each only making a small contribution to climate change, then it is quite significant. You want Australia to be setting a bad example. If we follow your logic, then there is also no point in any of us doing anything, because whatever we do will be completely swamped by what is going on in places like India and China. I would also suggest that the attempt to give a billion more people a vaguely Western standard of living might well bring on an environmental collapse or lead to the traditional human method of dealing with overpopulation, exemplified in Rwanda and Syria, drive off and kill your neighbours to take their resources. Nor is it all about climate change. You are ignoring local environmental effects. Many species are very specific in their habitat requirements, for example, and too much human encroachment can wipe them out.

          Parliament can do whatever it wants, but only so long as we keep voting for neoliberal/Big Australia Parliamentarians. If we stop voting for them, then our elite have to decide whether to let (force) our politicians to represent us and not just them, or to peel off the veneer of democracy and keep the lid on with torture and disappearances (effectively painting big targets on their backs). This was not a long-term strategy in Chile or Argentina.

          • If you add up all of the countries that are each only making a small contribution to climate change, then it is quite significant.

            Sure. But we only control our own destiny.

            You want Australia to be setting a bad example.

            Pretty sure this is the literal opposite of what I want.

            If we follow your logic, then there is also no point in any of us doing anything, because whatever we do will be completely swamped by what is going on in places like India and China.

            At no point have I ever suggested this “logic”. Indeed, I have specifically argued against it.

            Yes, any changes we make will be basically irrelevant in terms of global impact (except maybe something like ceasing all coal and/or gas exports).
            No, this is not a justification for “doing nothing”.

            I would also suggest that the attempt to give a billion more people a vaguely Western standard of living might well bring on an environmental collapse or lead to the traditional human method of dealing with overpopulation, exemplified in Rwanda and Syria, drive off and kill your neighbours to take their resources.

            Quite possibly, but we can’t stop them trying, and have no moral or ethical grounds to even ask, given our own prosperity exists in no small part due to their lack of it.

            You REALLY need to understand this: nothing we do – again, with the possible exception of ceasing fossil fuel exports (or of course starting a genocidal war) – is going to stop or even slow down attempts to modernise by the third world. So whether their per-capita emissions increase there or here is pretty much unimportant to the overall picture. Even if every first-world country were to completely stop all immigration, they would continue on their paths.

            Nor is it all about climate change. You are ignoring local environmental effects. Many species are very specific in their habitat requirements, for example, and too much human encroachment can wipe them out.

            And there’s the usual attempt to change the subject. This discussion is about climate change and has been from the first post.

            As I have pointed out numerous times before, land clearing and other environmental impacts from increasing human settlement are minor compared to export-driven mining, industry and agriculture.

            Parliament can do whatever it wants, but only so long as we keep voting for neoliberal/Big Australia Parliamentarians. If we stop voting for them, then our elite have to decide whether to let (force) our politicians to represent us and not just them, or to peel off the veneer of democracy and keep the lid on with torture and disappearances (effectively painting big targets on their backs). This was not a long-term strategy in Chile or Argentina.

            Sure. But this is irrelevant to whether or not we should be focusing primarily on population (what you think) or consumption (what I think), because attempts to make changes via either are entirely at the mercy of Parliament.

        • I have never disputed that we also need action on consumption, just that anything that we do on that front will be undermined by adding large numbers of additional people to a high consuming population. The environment will always come last when it comes into conflict with human needs. I agree with you about stopping coal and gas exports, but there is no chance of reining in damaging mining and agricultural activities if the exports of those commodities are paying for the imports needed by a big population. Stopping mass migration to rich countries would not completely solve the problem of climate change, but it would certainly help more than anything else we could do.

          Nor do I go in for liberal guilt. You are letting the poor people themselves and their elites (often in cahoots with rich country elites) off the hook. Our own elites now and in the past have been just as happy to exploit their own people. Exactly how did the little British children working down the coal mines benefit from the British Empire? See the Plutocracy documentaries on the Web.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDQjtRufr3M

          We are not responsible for overpopulation and other forms of mismanagement in poor countries. If the Hondurans, say, hadn’t quadrupled their population since 1960, there would be a tight labour market and four times as many resources per person.

          • Stopping mass migration to rich countries would not completely solve the problem of climate change, but it would certainly help more than anything else we could do.

            Uh, what ? We could be completely rebasing our energy generation and transport infrastructure, creating end-to-end resource lifecycling to maximise efficiency and minimise waste, encouraging people to live more self-supported and sustainable lifestyles, winding back the “growth at all costs” philosophy – and then enabling other countries to do the same (or selling the technology to them if you wanted to be mercantilist about it).

            Taking a “war footing” approach to consumption and efficiency and you could probably reduce the per-capita ecological footprint of western society by several times, but you think the thing that would “help more than anything else” is to close the doors to constrain first world population growth and maybe just slow things down a bit ? Good grief, get some ambition.

            Stopping immigration to the first world is less “not completely solve the problem”, more “barely even move the needle on solving the problem”.

            Heck, the per-capita ecological footprint of Australia or the USA vs, say, New Zealand or Denmark is something like a factor of 2x, but nobody would seriously try and argue the they have a meaningfully lower quality of life. We could just aim to emulate them, now, and halve the consumption of some of the world’s largest resource users. That’d be worth, what ? At least a century of your close-the-gates plan ?

            Nor do I go in for liberal guilt.

            LOL. Guilt has never crossed my mind. I’m not going to feel guilty about something I had no part in.

            It is simply a cold objective view.

            We have a lot of nice things in our lives because we are prepared to outsource the negative environmental and social consequences of creating them, and that’s just in the last fifty years or so, let alone the couple of centuries of colonisation that preceded it.

            I mean, you can try and argue it hasn’t had massive repurcussions past and present for those countries, but that wouldn’t pass the laugh test.

            We have no right to ask them to forego increasing their living standards just so we don’t have to do anything. None.

            We are not responsible for overpopulation and other forms of mismanagement in poor countries. If the Hondurans, say, hadn’t quadrupled their population since 1960, there would be a tight labour market and four times as many resources per person.

            Yeah, we didn’t do nuthin’ !

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honduras#20th_century_and_the_role_of_American_companies

        • drsmithy,

          When your toddler floods the bathroom, the first thing that you do is turn off the tap. Then you clean up the mess and try to think about how to prevent the problem from recurring. That is all that I am suggesting. As I have said many times, the most effective action that you can take against climate change is to have one less child, i.e. not add an additional person to a high consuming population.

          https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/12/want-to-fight-climate-change-have-fewer-children

          So far as consumption is concerned, people would probably be better off if we cut it by 10% and not worse off if we cut it by 20%. If you want to cut it much below that you are going to get some serious resistance, especially if you tell people that they have to make major sacrifices while we are importing huge numbers of migrants. Australia can’t be fairly compared with Denmark and similar countries. Our carbon footprint is extremely high because of the export of huge amounts of coal and gas, which is accounted to Australia and not the countries that consume the coal and gas. This has little to do with the standard of living of ordinary people, unless you believe that wealth will trickle down, and a great many of those who do benefit are foreign shareholders.

          I don’t dispute the past bad behavior of the American elite in Central America, but you can’t absolve the local people and the the local elite of all responsibility. How, exactly, would the Americans force the Hondurans to procreate, for example? Just compare Honduras with Costa Rica, another Central American country, which is at the top of the UN’s high human development list and nearly in the very high human development list with all the First World countries.

          • When your toddler floods the bathroom, the first thing that you do is turn off the tap.

            Stopping population growth, especially on a global scale, is in no way like turning off a tap. It’s a dumb analogy.

            But for sh!ts and giggles, let’s imagine you managed to stop all births worldwide for a decade. You’d take the world’s population back to roughly where is was in 2013. Not going to save the planet.

            As I have said many times, the most effective action that you can take against climate change is to have one less child, i.e. not add an additional person to a high consuming population.

            Sure. And most of the world is well and truly headed that way. But that doesn’t make the billions of people already here disappear, so, again, it’s meaningless in the context of doing anything on a useful timescale.

            So far as consumption is concerned, people would probably be better off if we cut it by 10% and not worse off if we cut it by 20%.

            Yet other countries manage to maintain similar quality of life at near half, without any particularly amazing technological advantages.

            Like I said, you need more ambition.

            I don’t dispute the past bad behavior of the American elite in Central America, but you can’t absolve the local people and the the local elite of all responsibility. How, exactly, would the Americans force the Hondurans to procreate, for example?

            Well the yanks do have a habit of making foreign aid conditional on not promoting responsible family planning (especially abortion).

            I am not particularly familiar with Honduras, but on top of being poor, a superficial look would suggest that womens rights are spotty, access to education, family planning and contraceptives is poor and abortion is completely banned in any circumstances. So pretty much exactly the sort of conditions you would expect to produce a high birth rate.

            Meanwhile in Costa Rica the situation is more like a modern western nation. So, again, the kind of situation where you would expect a relatively low birth rate.

            But, hey, when you think a birth rate is something that can be turned on and off like a tap, none of this sort of stuff is going to be relevant. 🙄

        • There is no way that the planet can sustain a First World standard of living for 8-11 billion people. We are already doing serious damage to our life support systems, of which climate change is only one. We are already in environmental overshoot, using up renewable resources far faster than they can be replenished. See the Global Footprint Network and planetary boundaries at the Stockholm Resilience Center. China already has more than a million premature deaths a year due to pollution. While some improvements can certainly be made, any attempt to increase global consumption to the full First Word level is likely to lead to collapse. Can’t happen, but the rich countries might be able to save themselves to some extent by abandoning mass migration, adopting cleaner technologies, discouraging the more wasteful forms of consumption, etc. In addition, if the big people-exporting countries don’t have emigration to the First World as a safety valve, they might work harder at fixing their problems.

          Our carbon footprint on a production basis is really shocking because of our exports of coal, gas, and aluminium. Cutting coal and gas exports would actually do far more good than cutting our own consumption. On a per capita consumption basis, we are about the same as Canada and the US, roughly twice as high as China.

          https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/10296/economics/top-co2-polluters-highest-per-capita/

          Yes, we could do a lot better, but there is still a limit to how far you can cut consumption before you make people significantly worse off, and each country has different problems. I doubt if air conditioning is much of an issue in Denmark, for example. It is very hard (impossible) to reduce our collective environmental footprint while we keep adding feet. The Greens are in denial about this.

          Costa Rica is ethnically similar to Honduras and also under the baleful eye of the United States. Its people speak the same language as the Hondurans and are also Catholic. So why is one country pulling itself into the First World while the other is mired in poverty?

          • There is no way that the planet can sustain a First World standard of living for 8-11 billion people.

            Well, the simple fact is that outside of kicking off a genocidal war, or something similar, we’re going to have 8-11 billion people on the planet and most of them are going to be doing everything in their power to increase their living standards.

            So, we can try to do something actually effective to create the least worst outcome, or we can pretend there’s some reasonable way of preventing global population increasing to 8-11 billion people, or those people from trying to improve their lives.

            I am quite open to ideas about how global population could be dramatically reduced or even stalled, or poor countries kept poor, but I haven’t been able to come up with any that I’m remotely comfortable with.

            Can’t happen, but the rich countries might be able to save themselves to some extent by abandoning mass migration, adopting cleaner technologies, discouraging the more wasteful forms of consumption, etc.

            Migration – even “mass migration” – is basically irrelevant to first world countries’ emissions. Trying to stop it is a pointless and costly waste of political capital that could be spent on doing the other, significantly more useful things.

            In addition, if the big people-exporting countries don’t have emigration to the First World as a safety valve, they might work harder at fixing their problems.

            Emigration from those countries is typically an insignificant fraction of their overall population. It’s not a safety valve, it’s a rounding error.

            If this reasoning was valid, then they wouldn’t have the problems in the first place, so it should be clear that it isn’t. Further, it doesn’t even stand up to superficial examination – the elites with the ability to effect change are mostly, if not entirely, isolated from the negative effects of overpopulation, and the people actually having the children generally don’t have much of a choice in the matter.

            On a per capita consumption basis, we are about the same as Canada and the US, roughly twice as high as China.

            And over 2x the UK. Over 3x Sweden. Do you think the Pommies or the Swedes have a meaningfully lower (if at all) quality of life to Australians ?

            Clearly there are _massive_ improvements that could be made on this front, with little to no impact in living standards and a far greater impact than even an unrealistic complete stop on immigration could achieve.

            Heck, you’ve only got to look at the quality of the average Australian home to see immediate opportunities for improving energy efficiency.

            It is very hard (impossible) to reduce our collective environmental footprint while we keep adding feet.

            On the contrary. Those numbers above make it clear that reducing collective footprint should be quite feasible and because the potential gains are so large, “adding feet” will make little difference to the outcome . Heck, even just matching Norway at 2/3 our per-capita emissions would be the equivalent of reducing population (or foregoing immigration) by 1/3 (about 9m people). That’s something a “stop immigration” program would take the better part of half a century to match – and that’s under the bold assumption those same 9m hypothetical immigrants don’t just end up increasing their emissions somewhere else.

            Costa Rica is ethnically similar to Honduras and also under the baleful eye of the United States. Its people speak the same language as the Hondurans and are also Catholic. So why is one country pulling itself into the First World while the other is mired in poverty?

            I have no idea as I’m not an expert on either country. But I’m quite confident both cases involve complex interactions of multiple causes over decades (if not centuries) and nothing even remotely as simple as you are trying to pretend.

            It’s also an irrelevant distraction.

    • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

      Access to power also improve’s women’s education which in turn decreases birth rates.

      Semi-virtuous cycle ?.

  5. David WilsonMEMBER

    It’s interesting to see the bias in the tables above showing renewables costs falling but not nuclear remembering that modular nuclear generation units will soon be available at low cost.
    We also need to understand that solar panels are only 19% efficient over a year given clouds, night time lack of generation dust etc and of course we have to destroy massive areas of our landscape to build solar farms with the panels all heating the atmosphere around them adding to so called global warming.
    If we are compare nuclear to solar we need five to six times the amount of solar output so the energy can be stored in batteries that should give us at least a couple of days storage for the days that the panels don’t generate energy and for zero output at night.
    If the truth were faced we probably need up to ten times the solar output with battery backup to match a given nuclear generators 24 7 output.
    I await the usual drivel replies attacking me that ignore the above facts
    Of course again we also need to understand that should CO2 levels rise fourfold from today’s levels plant, tree and crop growth will accelerate by 30-60% these figures know by all that have studied this area of agriculture output, plants als require less water for growth with higher CO2 levels.

    As for so called climate change those that understand our atmosphere should know that if and when temperatures increase we get more cloud formation and rainfall which is actually our natural climate response to reduce temperatures again a known but ignored fact by all lefty renewables folks that have destroyed our cheap low energy costs with highly subsidised renewables.