Thursday, August 13, 2020
Renewable Energy News

Government’s tech roadmap reveals its talent for wasting time – Sydney Morning Herald

By Staff , in Hydropower , at May 20, 2020

But the rhetoric highlights the base politics in the climate debate and the weaknesses in the new agenda.

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With the election won, the government adopts the ideas others have been advocating for years. It reveals, again, its talent for wasting time. Remember the Clean Energy Target and the National Energy Guarantee that were meant to solve the emissions challenge in the last term of Parliament?

The government thinks of the new roadmap as a “lasting framework” for the coming decade but it can never be sure of the stability of its own party room on climate change.

Nationals such as the former resources minister, Matt Canavan, have long called for government action to help build the next generation of coal-fired power stations – so called “high efficiency, low emissions” plans.

The HELE coal idea was embraced by conservatives in the last term of Parliament and held out to voters as the way of the future, but it is nowhere to be found in the government’s new roadmap.

As with electric cars, Morrison now accepts reality. An Australian HELE plant never made sense.

The Technology Roadmap backs in gas over coal.Credit:Angela Milne

The new plan is no lunge to the left, however. It advances the case for gas exports and gas-fired electricity at a time when environmental groups are opposing gas on every front, even as a transition fuel.

The most divisive idea is the use of carbon capture and storage to reduce emissions at fossil fuel projects – not least Australia’s huge gas export facilities – by burying carbon dioxide in the ground.

Environmentalists hate this technology. The new paper makes it even more likely the Coalition will spend money on it.

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One essential feature of the roadmap is that much of it can be achieved without legislation. If there is to be a test in Parliament, it would be a bill to overturn bans on investment in carbon capture and storage at the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor could count on party room support for that move, while Labor would have to decide whether to side with the Greens in voting against the change.

The dynamic would be very different to the division Malcolm Turnbull faced as prime minister when he attempted to create the National Energy Guarantee.

While Turnbull tried to legislate a mechanism to reduce emissions, Morrison instead advances a roadmap for a spending program.

In the Coalition party room, less ambition means less angst.

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