Red Herring: Abolish The Renewable Energy Target

AS THE GOVERNMENT unpicks the duplicitous, economically destructive legacy of a Communist Greens-imposed energy pricing regime that has led to punitive utility prices driving large numbers of households into insolvency, the Renewable Energy Target must be abandoned; like most of the other doctrinaire and practicably useless “clean energy” measures foisted on Australians, this one achieves little more than to rip Australian consumers off.

I have been reading a story from The Australian today, detailing uncertainty in the Abbott Cabinet over what to do about the RET; to my mind there is only one justifiable course of action to take in relation to this abominable piece of policy, and that is to abolish it.

The financial impost — and economic carnage — that is already being committed in this country in the name of so-called “Green energy” cannot be tolerated, and when it is considered that the damage rendered thus far isn’t even the full extent of what will flow from the eventual realisation of the full objectives of the RET, any desirable outcomes the policy achieves are woefully inadequate when weighed against the cost.

And that cost is significant.

According to The Australian‘s article, the only members of Cabinet supporting the continuation of the RET are Environment minister Greg Hunt and Industry minister Ian Macfarlane.

To some degree, Hunt’s position is understandable; as Environment minister — and a Liberal Party Environment minister at that — Hunt is, by virtue of his portfolio, one of the greatest targets of the ALP and the Greens, and he is hamstrung by the need to balance adherence to Coalition policy against the truculent demands of some of the vested interest groups — and the baying hordes of the Left — that his role attracts.

Macfarlane’s position, however, is unfathomable, and — if true that as Industry minister he is canvassing support for the retention of the RET in Cabinet — unforgivable.

It is bad enough that the carbon tax — yet to be abolished, thanks to the intransigence of Labor and the Greens in the Senate, and their refusal to accept the Abbott government’s clear mandate to get rid of it — has added billions of dollars to the cost base of industry since its introduction.

It is worse, however, to see the supposedly responsible minister attempting to defend an additional measure almost tailor-made to damage the very constituency he is supposedly a champion for.

There is no commercial case of any merit to be made for the schemes that have given body to the RET; the industries around solar and wind power only exist because of multibillion dollar taxpayer subsidies.

So-called renewable energy represents the most expensive form of generating baseload power, despite these subsidies — a reality that, at the domestic level, has been directly responsible for average utility prices doubling over the past few years.

And to my mind, it is a criminal affront to common sense, economic reality and the decency of everyday folk that this outrage is being perpetuated in the name of “emissions reductions” when the cheapest reserves of fossil fuels in the world exist in almost inexhaustible volumes in this country.

The great global “climate change” ruse that has been used by the Left as an economic weapon to attack traditional industries and create others wholly dependent on its pedagogy is, as I have opined previously, the greatest ruse of the 21st century and will eventually come to be seen as such.

Nobody — not even most of those labelled as “deniers” or “sceptics” by a political Left that attempts to simply abuse dissent and opposition out of existence — doubts that the world’s climate is, indeed, changing.

The problem with the theory, however, is that the climate has been changing for millions of years, and will continue to do so — irrespective of the effects of human behaviour.

In any case, the “warming” phase that was the basis for the alarm that in turn gave rise to all this expensive claptrap stopped years ago.

An example of this came to light during the week; a reminder of one of the more outlandish predictions of former US Vice-President Al Gore — a figurehead of the tax-industry-into-oblivion model of climate change advocacy — that has been doing the rounds pointed out that his public warnings that the Earth’s polar ice caps “will be gone by 2015” has amounted, unsurprisingly, to nothing.

Yet it is this kind of blatant scaremongering, and attempts to frighten the living hell out of people using the “substance” of Gore and other public figures like him to engender credibility, that economically lunatic concepts like the carbon tax and the RET are predicated on.

To put all of this into an Australian context, in the past year we have seen two car manufacturers announce they will shut up shop in Australia, citing unsustainable cost factors associated with operating here; Qantas and SPC Ardmona, despite protestations otherwise by the Left, are rapidly approaching financial unviability for similar reasons; and it needs to be remembered that Qantas’ competitor, Virgin, lost $100 million the financial year before last, and would be in real trouble were it not for the bottomless pockets of its foreign owners funnelling cash into the company to pursue their own commercial agendas.

Where there are some, there are others.

The point is that whilst labour costs are a large component of the problems these companies (and others like them) face — and we’ve talked about them at length, here and here for example — the energy regime implemented by the Gillard government (as the tail wagged by the malignant, malevolent, socialist Greens dog) is as much of a problem as considerations of labour costs are.

To complete the point, those five companies I’ve mentioned employ almost 200,000 people: and for the Left to cry about “job losses” without accepting responsibility for the real imposts its own policies have inflicted is to deny reality.

Some or all of these companies will disappear in the next few years, and when they do — far from lambasting the Liberals over the loss of all those jobs — the Left, and Labor and the Greens in particular, will have only themselves to blame.

The only viable alternatives to coal, oil and natural gas that can meaningfully generate a significant portion of Australia’s energy needs are nuclear and hydro: technologies which, thanks to the best efforts of the Greens, are political poison, despite the fact both are cheaper (and arguably greener) than those which extortionate taxpayer subsidies have contrived to shove down the throat of Australian industry.

And given the rest of the world isn’t going down the path of sabotaging their economies and destroying their industry bases with carbon taxes, punitive renewable targets and the like, Australia shouldn’t be either; comments from the Left have in the past responded to my articles in terms along the lines of China “looking at” Australia’s so-called clean energy regime and similar statements about the US. The reality is that looking is one thing. Doing is another. And neither of these countries are stupid or suicidal enough to engage in anything of the kind.

Far from “leading” the world with all of this rubbish, Australia is abrogating its future to it.

The suite of measures that encompasses the carbon tax and the RET is indeed driving demand for electricity down — a change largely driven by the old, the poor and the barely solvent failing to heat their homes in winter, curbing their use of essentials such as cooking apparatus and hot water, or not cooling their homes during summer because they simply can’t afford to.

If the Greens had set out to start a process of driving living standards in this country back to Stone Age levels, they could not have chosen a better way.

This insanity is everywhere: even shopping centres, once renowned as a place to “escape the heat” in summer, now set their commercial cooling units to an unpleasant 26 degrees to comply with government environmental regulations with the result even these oases are uncomfortably warm, humid holes in summer and veritably stifling furnaces in winter — and here again, there is an impact on the turnover of businesses and economic activity generally that all feeds back into the colossal damage the entire, mad regime is doing.

The government must abolish the RET. Hunt’s intransigence can be excused on the basis his portfolio compromises his position on it. Macfarlane, however, should either fall into line with its abolition or resign from the government.



Renewable Red Herrings: Time To Get Real About So-Called Green Energy

An article in The Australian today, detailing costs of wind and solar power and their impact on power bills relative to the carbon tax, has boiled my blood; it is time to get real about so-called “green” energy, and to recognise the pile of horse shit the whole concept is predicated on.

One of the many things wrong with this country at the moment is the virtual siege mentality that has been engineered by the Communist Party Greens, intellectually moribund academics and the sensationalist pork-barrellers in Canberra over the environment in general and the generation of energy in particular.

Specifically, the presentation of “problems” requiring “solutions” that amount to little more than window-dressing — yet cost billions of dollars, and slug ordinary Australians already stretched to breaking point by cost-of-living pressures — is a contemptible little closed circuit that plays on the gullibility of the uninformed.

The Australian reports today — and I quote — that “subsidies for rooftop solar panels will cost consumers about $2.3 billion over the next year as the combination of a federal government solar subsidy program and state government feed-in tariffs add about $140 a year to household power bills.”

Without going too far into the article’s breakdown of the figures, beyond that headline figure the rest of it is simple detail. The Australian does note, though, that price impacts associated with “renewable” energy on power bills are additional to those of the looming carbon tax, and greater in size than the imposts the carbon tax promises to inflict.

I do, however, wish to quote South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill; speaking directly on this issue, he said “…people want to find ways of reducing their environmental footprint and many choose to pay higher electricity costs because of signing up to green energy…they want to buy green power.”

Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better. And that’s a big part of the problem.

I would make the clear point that nobody likes environmental pollution, or at the very least, most of us don’t; but by the same token, unless we all go back to living in caves and cooking around a fire, the worldwide imperative for baseload electricity generation and its attendant side-effects are issues that are actual, not academic, and certainly ones that will not be resolved on an economically viable basis by wind power or solar energy.

Even so, the siege mentality to which I referred has had the consequence that millions of people across the country believe the planet is on the brink of environmental and ecological collapse; this doesn’t just include the gullible, the stupid and the contemptible, either: learned folk, intelligent folk, otherwise rational and functional folk actually believe this pap too.

And the consequence, in turn, of that has been that an environment now exists — no pun intended — in which a) governments and QANGOs can impose endless taxes, levies, charges, fees and other imposts in the dubious name of “clean energy;” and in which b) a sideshow of hypocritical circuses now exists, and grows, to provide a semblance of a solution to the “problem” but which, in fact, is a mere perpetuation of it.

Environmental Footprint. Carbon Offset. Food Miles. Clean Energy Future. Blah Blah Blah. These — and other politically stylish catchphrases — do not describe actual phenomena; rather, they reflect the results of marketing consultancies and focus group sessions to devise suitably punchy slogans by which to perpetuate the myth of the environmental siege gripping the planet.

It should give readers pause for thought to consider that in and around all this high-profile concern for the Earth’s environmental good, nary a mention is given to the salinity levels in soils that have been mismanaged; to tangible problems such as the wholesale clearance of rainforest areas, including in this country; or to the sick state of health of river systems.

Yes, these issues are acknowledged, but paid mere lip service by comparison: the real show, and the real money, lies where a tax can be efficiently levied — and, on a rainforest or a river or a salt pan, it can’t be.

Wind farms aren’t just ugly, they’re next to useless; in the name of 2% of the country’s electricity being generated from wind, pristine coastal areas are scarred and blemished by these unsightly monstrosities that are inefficient, unreliable, and ridiculously expensive to manufacture, install and maintain.

And, importantly, which don’t even turn if the wind doesn’t blow.

Solar energy isn’t much better; anyone who has ever made the mistake of “investing” in a solar hot water system knows all too well that when it is cold, or grey, or raining — or night, which is 50% of the time — booster electricity from baseload power is required if there is hot water to be had. How — given this simple small-scale but authentic example — baseload electricity could ever sustainably be generated from solar energy is a mystery.

And let’s not ignore the fact that whilst electric cars are becoming environmentally stylish — they emit no greenhouse gases — they still need to be recharged; and the various sources from which that recharge comes are all powered by fossil fuel-fired electricity generation. Ultimately, burning oil is replaced by burning coal.

(And whilst slightly off the track, let’s remember the raft of new “green” levies being charged on airfares and so forth — rather pointlessly, any trees planted with the proceeds won’t eliminate a molecule of jet engine exhaust from the atmosphere).

Thanks to the Greens (back in the days when they were actually environmentalists in the true sense, whether right or misguided, and not the social engineers and warriors of the hard Left) hydro-electric power is almost impossible to consider in Australia, as are the additional dams required to provide the water source to drive it.

And geothermal power — a great idea in theory — is, today, no answer.

The simple fact is that Australians are paying through the nose to subside the likes of wind power and solar power, which resolve nothing and do not eliminate demand on electricity generated using fossil fuels.

And the carbon tax is an illusion: far from creating a “clean energy future,” it is likely to decimate local manufacturing industries and the likes of the steel and aluminium industries (and boost their overseas counterparts from whom we will increasingly import), whilst providing cover for utility companies, transport companies, and every other industry to raise prices well beyond the level of the impost of the tax.

All the while, achieving nothing in terms of environmental outcomes.

All the while ignoring the fact, just like proverbially sticking one’s head up one’s backside, that the rest of the world (and 99% producer of environmental pollutants) is doing, in broad terms, nothing.

And all the while, Julia Gillard and the other imbeciles who constitute federal government in Australia rattle on that more is being paid to Australians as “compensation” for the carbon tax than the tax will actually generate in revenue.

It mustn’t take Einstein to realise that at the very least — on that third point alone — something is very, very wrong.

Any tax for which more is paid out to soothe grievances than is collected is either an utter waste of time or a smokescreen for something else.

I believe it is both, to be frank. There is ample evidence that the carbon tax will provide no positive environmental benefit whatsoever.

There is also ample — and growing — evidence that it will inflict great damage on Australia’s economy, and no guarantee that it won’t inflict great hardship on millions of Australians, some of them on the breadline, and many more simply overburdened by rocketing price pressures their otherwise adequate incomes cannot afford.

Perhaps the billions of dollars in government expenditure on subsidies, reasearch and development concessions, grants and the like would be justifiable if cost-effective solutions were being realised, or if additional billions were not required from the leverage of a bevy of ambit new taxes.

But they aren’t.

And in any case, until certain elements in the energy debate are firmly told where to go — and nuclear energy finally put on the table in Australia in a meaningful sense — the merry-go-round of taxes, handouts and higher consumer prices will continue indefinitely.

The whole exercise is pointless. It is, however, usurious in its expense, and I refuse to believe that the expenditure and transfer of such vast sums of money, simply to make people feel good about environmental issues, is worth it.

When it comes to electricity generation and the environmental issues surrounding it, the present debate and the actions emanating from it — as I said at the outset — is predicated on a truckload of shit.

And until people in positions of consequence want to get serious about these things, and abandon the perpetuation of such a ruse, the use of coal and gas to fire power stations remains the best, and most economical, option available.