Climate policy gobbledegook costs local industry


Peter Roberts
Contributor

The Guardian put it beautifully on Saturday when it said that ‘Australian smarts and Chinese industrial might make solar power the cheapest power humanity has seen’.

This is the power of nations working together towards a common goal – though perhaps not to the advantage of Australia industrially in the case of solar PV.

Yet Scott Morrison thumbed his nose at cooperation with other nations at a virtual climate summit on Friday, repeating a climate target first set by ‘climate change is crap’ Tony Abbott – a 26 to 28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

Tindo Solar
Tindo Solar in Adelaide is producing an array of renewables products. Photo: Tindo Solar

This when among our peers the US committed to 50 per cent cuts in emissions by 2030, the UK to 78 per cent by 2035, Japan to 46 per cent cut by 2030 and Canada’s to a 40 per cent to 45 per cent reduction.

Mr Morrison has so far escaped actually doing anything effective about climate on the one hand while encouraging coal and gas burning on the other with dissembling language such as his ‘practical steps’ and ‘technology-led’ approach.

In fact, we already have practical technologies to swiftly decarbonise – wind, solar and battery storage – which are already cheaper than fossil fuels.

Mr Morrison explained no change in our climate targets to Joe Biden and others with this gobbledygook: “Standing on the front foot, we are no stranger to those things.

“We are no stranger to the commitments for the achievement of those commitments which is ultimately is what matters at the end of the day.

“Australia we have a plan.”

So far the plan seems to involve first making us a pariah with our biggest trading partner by letting backbenchers bad mouth China.

Then second, inviting the rest of the world to shut us out of the other big economic areas the EU and the US as they impose carbon tariffs – which are surely coming.

While Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and now Mr Morrison have been courting gas and coal, they have only halfheartedly encouraged alternative energy industries that will lower our emissions and create new exports such as green hydrogen.

We should be pouring money into plans to export green hydrogen to replace our LNG exports, and funding the many SMEs developing innovative energy products and services.

We should have more than just one manufacturer of solar panels, Tindo Solar (pictured), and we should be investing in companies with the technology to build an electricity distribution network of the future.

We should be funding research to decarbonise steel production to protect our iron ore exports (and also cement), and not the dead-end of carbon capture and storage.

Yes, we have announcements of hydrogen hubs but Canberra is also encouraging hydrogen from coal.

And there is the only discouragement of electric vehicles.

We have a self-righteous Prime Minister leading a Utopia-style government of daily announceables, of numerous ‘packages’ of public cash to fix the latest policy bushfire.

But as far as energy and industry are concerned we have an impression of action while the years tick by and our industrial and export structure looks more and more threatened.

This story was originally published by @AuManufacturing. You can subscribe to its newsletter here.

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