JAMES FERNYHOUGH. Climate change action off the agenda under Morrison government.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has unveiled a new energy policy focused exclusively on reducing electricity prices, in a strong signal the Morrison government will abandon all efforts to lower carbon emissions.

The move comes a week after the issue of climate change precipitated the ousting of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“My No.1 priority is very, very simple,” Mr Taylor said in a speech on Thursday. “It is to reduce power prices, and to do this while we keep the lights on.”

He would do this, he said, by empowering consumers to shop around, cracking down on price gouging, and increasing “reliable supply” – a phrase that has come to refer to keeping coal-fired power stations running.

“It’s ironic that in a country with an abundance of natural resources – coal, gas, water, solar, wind – we should be in the position we are today. We have to leverage those resources, not leave them in the ground.”

He listed two ways in which this would be done: encouraging states to lifting moratoria on coal and gas exploration, and underwriting “new stable low-cost generation for commercial and industrial customers”.

The latter appeared to be a commitment for the government to guarantee that coal-fired power stations would remain open. Not a single policy to increase investment in renewables or lower emissions was announced.

Mr Taylor attacked Labor for putting climate change at the centre of its energy policy.

“The difference between us and them could not be more stark. Labor’s platform puts climate change at the centre of their broader economic strategy.

“But as the Prime Minister said, this government is instead focused on delivering for all Australians and that means reducing electricity prices and cost-of-living pressures.”

Despite announcing no policies to address carbon emissions, and despite attacking Labor for prioritising the issue, Mr Taylor insisted he was not a climate sceptic.

“I’m not sceptical about climate science, but I am and have been for many years sceptical about the economics of so many of the emissions-reduction schemes dreamed up by vested interests, technocrats and politicians around the world.

“For more than 30 years, I’ve shared concerns about climate change and the impact of CO2 on our climate. I’m a lover of the environment, a farmer, a passionate back country skier and climber.”

He said his farm in NSW had repeatedly changed farming methods in response to the changing climate.

As prime minister, Mr Turnbull had intended to include carbon emissions reductions as part of the National Energy Guarantee legislation.

However, fierce opposition from the right wing of the Liberal Party prompted him to dump the carbon emissions targets in a last-ditch attempt to save his premiership.

This move did not appease the right wing, led by Peter Dutton, and they forced a leadership spill regardless.

Mr Turnbull, who once described climate change as a “global problem” with potentially “catastrophic consequences”, left The Lodge without having implemented any major policies to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Turnbull’s attempt to bring the issues of energy and climate change together by merging the two portfolios under one minister was immediately unwound by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who put energy and environment under two separate ministers.

Under the Paris agreement, Australia has committed to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

Following the dropping of the NEG, there is no plan in place to achieve this.

This article was published by The New Daily on the 30th of August 2018. It was published by Money Editor @JamesFernyhough


John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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1 Response to JAMES FERNYHOUGH. Climate change action off the agenda under Morrison government.

  1. David Brown says:

    I notice that our new Energy Minister says we have an:
    “abundance of natural resources – coal, gas, water, solar, wind”

    in another quote he did not include wind…. noted as he is on the record for deprecating wind farms

    but in both cases I query the glib reference to WATER as abundant…. maybe the Snowy scheme makes some feel comfortable but I suggest we need to be very aware of any use of water… recycling and non-polluting uses may be OK but any use as a disposable is fraught with danger in Australia

    polluting use in mining for example or even cooling for energy production needs to be carefully considered … for example in recent summer heat many of the major (base load?) coal fuelled generators have failed or not been dispatchable due to insufficient cooling and this will happen more as the planet warms

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