future clean tech

green business, policy and technology in australia and abroad

Posts Tagged ‘policy

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.

Written by Gabriel Sassoon

June 16, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Economic benefits of emissions trading scheme

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This article appeared in the Sun Herald today: “Emissions scheme’s $6bn boost to the economy“.

An internal report by National Australia Bank seen by The Sun-Herald suggests the emissions trading debate in Australia has been dominated by claims about the short-term costs, and scant attention has been paid to new investment opportunities.

“The average year-on-year investment created by the [Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme] could be up to 60 per cent greater than that committed for infrastructure in this year’s budget,” the report says.

It warns there has been “little consideration of the investment stimulus” that would be created as the economy becomes less greenhouse-intensive.

“This is unfortunate, as discussion of any costs should be balanced with an examination of the opportunities.”

Duh. The only reason the scheme has been delayed in Australia is because the only industries set to lose from its implementation – heavy polluting ones – have lobbied to have it delayed. And they’ve convinced the public with their false dilemma of environment vs jobs. Here’s how the article ends; don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything for you. Trust me:

Treasury modelling produced for the Government concluded the emissions trading scheme would only have a small net impact on employment.

But the Minerals Council says the mining sector will lose 23,510 jobs over the next decade if a 5 per cent target is adopted.

And, as I’ve written before, punch-card computer operators lost their jobs when technology improved. My question is: um, so?

Written by Gabriel Sassoon

May 24, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Disaster in Tennessee, wind, solar, and the end of coal

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Two excellent clips showing the contours of the debate going on in the US. Note that even the “skeptics” are simply querying the viability of raising capital during the GFC – they are not questioning the value of switching to clean energy. Particularly, as is referenced, in the wake of December’s disaster at a Tennessee coal plant (which only goes to prove that eliminating coal is an imperative whether or not climate change science turns out to be accurate).

Written by Gabriel Sassoon

May 8, 2009 at 6:50 am

ACF urges politicians to support CPRS

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When the Australian Conservation Foundation endorses the weak ETS that is being debated at the moment, you know the situation is dire.

The ACF and other green advocacy organisations recognise that the adoption of the government’s proposed CPRS is at least a step in the right direction. They figure that they and other groups can then lobby the government to increase the emissions reduction targets.

I agree with the ACF – the proposed ETS is weak but it must be passed so it can be operational by the beginning of next calendar year. It is, at the very least, a start. Not an especially good start, but a start nonetheless.

Written by Gabriel Sassoon

April 22, 2009 at 4:34 pm

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Of ostriches and forward-thinkers: US policy evolves

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It would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic: the Republican House Minority leader, John Boehner, told George Stephanopoulos that the idea that CO2 is harmful to the environment is “almost comical”.

George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide… The question is how much does man have to do with it, and what is the proper way to deal with this?

Stephanopolous could barely believe it himself – that a top elected official could still espouse such views just has to be seen to be believed:

The good news is that there’s seriously positive action happening where it matters. As David Niebauer writes at Cleantechblog.com, congressmen Waxman and Markey introduced a cap-and-trade bill in late March that would enable reduced deforestation in tropical rainforests -anywhere in the world – to be purchased as carbon credits. The EPA reckons that the scheme will cost just “pennies a day”.

It seems that finally public policy is catching up with the necessity that I’ve blogged about before – for us to price the externality of rainforest depletion into the economy. And it proves the point that it is virtually irrelevant what the skeptics say: the paradigm shift to the clean economy has reached an inflection point. It’s only going to snowball from here.

Written by Gabriel Sassoon

April 22, 2009 at 9:17 am