Who’s for renewables?

Several states and hundreds of councils are pursuing renewable energy schemes that benefit the community and environment, however nothing positive is coming out of Canberra. Instead the newly minted prime minister remains mute on emissions reductions and climate change.

Meanwhile opposition leader Bill Shorten has declared Labor would support a royal commission into power companies, on the proviso it delved into the impact of privatisation on higher prices.

Shorten has called on energy companies to explain why there shouldn’t be a royal commission but it appears he’s yet to receive a response. He also blames the impact of policy uncertainty on investment in energy generation on rising prices.

Prime minister Morrison has indicated he is receptive to a royal commission but notes the plethora and general fatigue surrounding energy industry inquiries. For the time being his party’s focus, it seems, will be on lowering power prices, if necessary through market intervention, and some sort of reliability guarantee

He’s declared the national energy guarantee dead and, following the footsteps of the US and Japan, has called on the cabinet to step away from the Paris emissions target.

The coal-hugging Morrison has instead raised the prospect of “new power generation”.

Sub text for new power generation = new coal plants that in reality continue to pollute, take a long time to develop and are more costly than renewable energy.

The Climate Council is aghast (but probably not altogether surprised) by the prime minister’s support for new coal and the lack of any semblance of a plan to ramp up Australia’s emissions reduction targets.

“We all know that in order to limit global temperatures to no more than a 2˚C rise, the world must keep at least 88 per cent of its coal in the ground, and that new coal is among the most expensive sources of new power generation, whereas solar and wind are among the cheapest,” Senior Energy and Climate Solutions Analyst Petra Stock said.

“And we know that coal is always polluting. Full stop.

“In order to effectively tackle climate change, Australia must rapidly and deeply reduce its greenhouse gas pollution.”

 The good news is in the absence of federal climate leadership, states, territories, cities and towns are getting on with it, and international action on climate change is forging ahead.

Petra Stock went on to list important examples of climate action, including the increase in global investment in renewable energy with new renewable power capacity reaching an all-time high in 2017; large scale solar and storage developments underway in Australia, and skyrocketing household solar installations.

Critically too, State and territory governments are stepping up as seen in South Australia’s massive lithium-ion battery storage systems; ACT’s 100% renewable energy target and strong targets in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Tasmania as well as Victoria which continues to announce a raft of programs that support small and large scale renewable developments.

“Local action is where it’s at [as well] with 70 local governments, 250 towns and cities representing 8 million Australians, forming what is now the largest climate program for local governments in Australia: the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership,” Stock said.

Back to politics where Greens leader Richard Di Natale has committed to work with a new Labor government for more progressive policy on the environment and to get action on climate change back on track, however he is wary of major parties acting at the behest of large corporate donors and enabling the Adani mine go proceed and further destroy the Reef.

But Di Natale has made it clear he wants to see the end of the Coalition that “don’t deserve to govern”.

Which brings us to the captivating comments of Alex Turnbull, son of the deposed prime minister who said “no one with a conscience” could vote for the Liberals in the Wentworth by-election that has since been called for October 20.

He has mooted an ICAC inquiry into party donations and called for a “sane energy policy”.

He also commented that the committing to the Paris agreement had no impact on energy prices.