It is looking like Santa has organised for our Christmas wish to come true!…Australia will have a fixed price on pollution (with NO international offsets allowed) starting 1 July 2012, YAY!
But, because scientists are telling us that we have only a very small window of opportunity to transition away from greenhouse gas pollution, we have to get the fine print right, NOW.
A low carbon price of $10-20/tonne is somewhat useful, as it will still create a disincentive to build new coal-fired power stations, and will ensure that coal is more likely to be displaced by renewables (like wind and solar) than by gas. However, a carbon price which is greater than $25/tonne will ensure a mass rollout of gas-fired power stations, while renewables are left out in the cold. (See the BZE Report at http://tinyurl.com/BZE-Carbon-Price-2011-02-28)
Careful analyses of the way our energy markets work shows that if the new price on pollution is introduced at anything below $200 per tonne (dreaming) OR without any schemes to directly support 100% renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, then all we will achieve is a big win for entrenched, finite, BIG fossil gas (NOTE: methane from leaking gas is 72 times more greenhouse gas intensive than carbon, connect the dots…).
So to avoid a lot of money being invested in gas infrastructure—which would, in a very short period of time, become stranded assets and need to be taken apart and replaced because, like coal, it is finite and greenhouse gas polluting—the most affordable and sensible path is to bite the bullet and directly invest in the right solutions NOW. We must call for renewable energy sources (0% coal) that will 1) ensure we have energy security (peak oil will soon force prices of everything way up), 2) stimulate jobs in more sustainable, local economies, and 3) bring our greenhouse gas emissions from stationary electricity down to zero as fast as we can.
There are several paths we could take:
- Introduce a price of around $20 per tonne on CO2, combined with a national, gross-metered Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) (learn more at http://www.energymatters.com.au/government-rebates/feedintariff.php#fit-gross-net) , along with a stronger Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (learn more at http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/initiatives/renewable-target.aspx). Together these policy measures have driven the renewable energy boom in Europe and we think this is the more likely of our two options to be adopted; OR
- Introduce a carbon price of at least $200 per tonne so that gas is not a feasible option (I repeat ‘dreaming’ because we know that is not going to happen). But that is around the price that the free market will need to pull out of polluting energy sources. Remember that our current (read very old) energy system was not built by free market forces, it was by and large established by governments and paid for by tax payers.
You can be sure about this: once the renewable energy infrastructure is established—except for basic maintenance, operating and transmission costs, which are in fact much less for renewable energy technologies than large power plants—the electricity generated from renewable energy sources costs nothing. Renewable energy is very cheap in the LONG run and that is what we must remain focused on.
Also, renewable energy supplies—sourced from a range of technologies located in numerous locations using high voltage direct current lines that will allow more flows and considerably reduce transmission losses—will ensure a more robust and secure power supply than the current centralized models. By their very nature centralised power supplies are more vulnerable to major disruptions caused by storms—which scientists predict will become more ferocious and more frequent. This summer has been bad enough!
And more good news is that—contrary to what deniers/scare mongers are saying—in places where renewable energy has entered the market, the wholesale price of electricity has decreased. This is because the low operating costs of renewable energy reduces wholesale price spikes, which is how fossil fuel electricity generators make most of their money.
So, it seems the planets are aligning for this ideally timed national campaign calling for A Fair Go for Renewables, http://100percent.org.au/content/help-gather-20000-survey-results-nation-wide-community-survey to gather more than 20,000 surveys for Rob Oakeshott to table in Parliament in June, just prior to the new Greens Senators entering the Senate. LIVE is supporting A Fair Go for Renewables and would love to hear from you if you would like to help too.
And, another exciting initiative launched last night in Melbourne is CoalWatch see http://www.environmentvictoria.org.au/coalwatch. This important new project is tracking the coal industry’s dangerous expansion plans and includes rich content about why coal is the problem, along with a list of all coal projects on the table in Victoria. Once you see how many billions of dollars are being spent on coal you will fully understand why we claim that there is no shortage of money to fund renewable energy now.
In the meantime, we suggest that you write or telephone members of the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee (MPCCC) to encourage them to take effective action to reduce Australia’s soaring emissions. As you have probably heard they are under enormous pressure from vested interests and their foot soldiers, including at least one reported death threat.
Julia Gillard: (02) 6277 7700 webform: http://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm
Wayne Swan: (02) 6277 7340 email: Wayne.Swan.MP@aph.gov.au
Greg Combet: (02) 6277 7920 email: Greg.Combet.MP@aph.gov.au
Tony Windsor: (02) 6277 4722 email: Tony.Windsor.MP@aph.gov.au
Rob Oakeshott: (02) 6277 4052 webform:
Christine Milne: (02) 6277 3063 email: email@example.com
My email to the MPCCC is here if you are looking for some ideas. Or if you are listening to talk back, it would be great if you could challenge the misinformation being spread by vested interests.
Thanks and best wishes!
PS: Please forward this email, or a link to this page, onto your friends.