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green business, policy and technology in australia and abroad

The Unavoidable Green Future

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Excellent article in today’s New Matilda – The Unavoidable Green Future (will open in new tab/window). It’s an interview of Ben McNeil, author of The Clean Industrial Revolution. Here’s my favourite bit:

“Right now we’re in the same position in Australia as GM was in the 1990s. We’re protecting high-carbon assets. We’re protecting coal, we’re protecting oil and we are looking at carbon price, a carbon cost in the future. There is no doubt that the world is going to value carbon, and that means higher carbon costs. So how the hell is coal going to survive in a world moving to low carbon? It’s not going to.”Coal Plant

McNeil points to research by Chris Reidy at the University of Technology Sydney which estimated a public subsidy of $9-10 billion on 2005-06 figures for the transport and electricity industries alone.

“When people say let’s do nothing, let’s just play that scenario out,” McNeil continues, “if we do nothing in terms of emissions, it’s essentially saying let’s rely on these old relics for our future prosperity in terms of economic growth. But Japan and the EU, who buy most of our coal, are de-carbonising their economies. Why would they be buying coal? They’ll be getting gas, they’ll be getting renewables, they’ll be getting more nuclear, they’ll be doing other things. So someone who says this will be devastating to our economy — it doesn’t make sense.”

But what about the argument, often voiced by the Opposition, that Australia should wait until the rest of the world puts a price on carbon before it acts?

“It’s funny. When someone says there is no current price for carbon they’re just living in la-la land. There’s a very strong shadow price for carbon right now, irrespective of the Government. Last year, 45 coal-fired power stations went off the books in terms of planning. They didn’t go off the books because of coal technology — we’ve had coal for a long time. They [were cancelled] because of the financiers, the Wall St bankers. They said ‘Actually, in a carbon constrained world, where you’ve got a 50-year asset, the carbon price could go from $20 a ton to $200 a ton within 10 or 20 years, so we’re talking about huge carbon liabilities here.'”

“These guys in the coal industry are just delusional, completely delusional.”

To read more, click here.

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Written by Gabriel Sassoon

June 16, 2009 at 9:13 pm

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