Rising tide of discontent

Extreme weather alerts, unprecedented fires, cities shrouded in dust, thunderstorm asthma warnings and yet more catastrophic conditions on their way. Already weary fire fighters continue to battle out-of-control fires that have caused untold loss to homes, livelihoods and livestock. Meanwhile widespread flooding in the Venice and northern UK has caused billions of dollars damage. Now more and more people are pointing the finger at climate change. And still Australia appears determined to prop up polluting coal-fired power. Extraordinary times.

The ABC poll Australia Talks quizzed 54,000 about what affected them personally and – hey ho – topping the menu of the 27 ‘worry factors’ was climate change, with 72 per cent of respondents saying it would affect their lives.

“The results are revealing on many levels … of the great partisan placard-fodder issues of our time, for instance, only climate change registers powerfully in the Australian home as a personal threat,” the ABC report noted.

The full results of the poll were revealed at the start of this week, four days before the COAG meeting taking place on Friday November 22.

Which, astonishingly, is discussing the proposal by the Energy Commission to introduce an energy transmission congestion tax that would effectively force newcomers – which invariably are renewable energy generators – compensate incumbents, namely coal fired power stations, for losses.

The effect would be significant reduction of investment in large-scale renewable energy projects.

(This extraordinary proposal is covered in detail in the following news item.)

The first COAG meeting in twelve months has much on the agenda including energy efficiency and the overhaul of the$2.55 billion emissions reduction fund, now retitled ‘Climate Solutions Fund’.

As it stands the fund has failed spectacularly in slashing Australia’s overall level of emissions.

At the behest of Victoria, also listed for discussion at the COAG meeting in Perth is progression of the KerangLink transmission line that would boost the power transfer capacity between the Snowy hydro power plant and Melbourne.

Chief scientist Alan Finkel (pictured below) is briefing the COAG Energy Ministers on Australia's National Hydrogen Strategy to position Australia to take advantage of the leap in global annual over the next two decades.

The ACT, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania will be emphasising the enormous potential for green hydrogen, however ACT energy minister, Shane Rattenbury fears the COAG energy council will be urged to consider the production of brown hydrogen from coal.

Outcomes from the meeting and indications on the direction of the energy industry will become evident before too long. Then perhaps another year’s wait until the next meeting, despite the urgent need to address critical issues in the energy sector that impact the lives of all Australians?

It’s a sinking feeling.