The Turnbull Government of Australia; September 2015 – August 2018

Before his September 2015 push to become Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said things that indicated he wanted serious action on climate change.

He rightly said that ex-PM Tony Abbott's "Direct Action Plan", was a very bad idea; since then he has spoken favourably of it. (No one outside the Liberal party believes it is an effective mechanism for reducing emissions.) In his time as Prime Minister Mr Turnbull has done very little to reduce Australia's very high rate of greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently NOAA has reported that the sixteen warmest years on record have all occured since 1998 and we have seen the Great Barrier Reef suffer its worst ever bleaching event. Ocean acidification continues to worsen. Australia has amongst the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita of all the world's nations. PM Turnbull continues to do nothing.

The Australian people want renewable energy, not coal. The world needs renewable energy, not coal. The Turnbull Government is becoming increasingly isolated in Australia. Many of the states and territories have far more ambitious renewable energy targets than that of the federal government; it is notable that the (Liberal) Marshall South Australian government, elected in March 2018, has promised to continue developing the state's already highly advanced renewable energy industry.

The seriousness of climate change became particularly obvious in the second half of 2017 with consecutive disastrous hurricanes in the Caribbean and the USA, record wild fires in Canada and western USA, and record monsoonal flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. What was PM Turnbull's response? To propose keeping an old coal-fired power station open longer and redefine coal as clean energy.

It seems that Mr Turnbull has traded away his conscience for the sake of his ambition.

This page was written 2015/09/22, last edited 2022/12/09
Contact: David K Clarke – ©


September 2017

PM Turnbull's predecessor, Tony Abbott was even more supportive of coal and opposed to renewables, but he was narrow-minded and ill-informed enough to believe what he said. Malcolm Turnbull knows what needs to be done but seems to have simply put aside any moral scruple he ever had in a desperate attempt to hold onto the Prime Ministership.

October 2016; he failed to keep his promise.
He said recently, coal will be a part of Australia's energy mix for "many, many, many decades to come".
Before the Abbott Government Australia had a wind energy industry, it wasn't developing as quickly as it needed to in order to do our share in limiting climate change, but it was developing. PM Abbott did all he could to slow renewable energy development in general and to put a stop to further wind farms in particular.

As shown in the image on the right, Malcolm Turnbull has said things that indicate he is serious about climate change action, but his lack of action, indeed, his blatant opposition to action on climate change since becoming Australia's Prime Minister suggest that he has put ambition before scruples.

Malcolm Turnbull in August 2010

"We are as humans conducting a massive science experiment with this planet. It's the only planet we've got... We know that the consequences of unchecked global warming would be catastrophic. We know that extreme weather events are occurring with greater and greater frequency and while it is never possible to point to one drought or one storm or one flood and say that particular incident is caused by global warming, we know that these trends are entirely consistent with the climate change forecasts with the climate models that the scientists are relying on... We as a human species have a deep and abiding obligation to this planet and to the generations that will come after us."
The Guardian

This section added 2018/07/15

A terrible injustice

Cartoon credit: Ron Tandberg
Australia, under Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, illegally bugged the East Timorese embassy and used the information so obtained to cheat the Timorese people out of their rightful share of the oil and gas resources of the Timor Sea.

This was bad enough, but in July 2018 the man who 'blew the whistle' on Australia's illegal (and very unethical) behaviour was being tried for treason.

John Menadue published Senator Andrew Wilkie's coverage of this matter in a speech in the Australian Senate on 2018/07/02. (I believe it is illegal to use the victim's name at the time of writing.)

The whistle-blower deserves a medal rather than a jail term for his action, it is Alexander Downer who should be jailed.

This section added 2018/06/26

The National Energy Guarantee (NEG)

NEG graph
The graph on the right is how the Clean Energy Council sees the impact of the Turnbull Government's Clean Energy Guarantee. The orange bar on the graph shows the renewable energy committed or deployed in 2017, the black bars show the pathetic target for the remaining years to 2030. If the Turnbull Government's aspirations for emissions reductions were any lower they'd be invisible.

Fortunately, as I understand it, the NEG mandates only a minimum level of renewable energy development. Actual renewable energy development will most likely be very much higher than the government's pathetic target.

On present indications, while the government does all it can to slow the adoption of renewable energy in Australia, as demonstrated by the NEG, it seems that they will be overtaken by developments. Australia's coal fired power stations are ageing and will have to be progressively shut down; at the same time renewable energy options are becoming cheaper. In a nation with Australia's renewable energy resources, new-build coal fired power stations are not economically competitive with wind or solar PV (and nuclear is even less competitive).

All the indications are that renewables will go from strength to strength in the future.

Written 2018/04/15

Brown coal to hydrogen?
You must be joking PM Turnbull!

Hazelwood coal mine fire, Latrobe Valley, Victoria, February 2014
Hazelwood fire
Image credit
At a time when it should be obvious to all that the coal industry, especially the thermal coal industry, has no future our Prime Minister has announced a $500 million pilot plant proposal to turn 160 tonnes of Latrobe Valley brown coal into three tonnes of hydrogen. That's not three tonnes a day, it's three tonnes over the life of the plant!

Are there better alternatives?

Yes, far better; for example, the Crystal Brook Energy Park, if built, is expected to produce 20 tonnes of hydrogen a day – from clean wind and solar power! A hydrogen electrolyser announced for Port Lincoln is expected to produce 10 tonnes of hydrogen a day, again using renewable energy, and the entire plant has been costed at $118 million. (I have written about renewable-energy-to-hydrogen developments in Australia elsewhere on these pages.)

The coal project, on the other hand, would normally be expected to put many tonnes of climate changing and ocean acidifying carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for each tonne of hydrogen produced.

Economic viability

The economic viability of any full-scale brown coal to hydrogen project is highly questionable. To make the proposal mysterious to the point of weirdness, the developers recognise that a carbon capture and storage (CCS) system for the emissions would be critical to the commercialisation of the technology. CCS would greatly increase the cost of the process; most places it has been tried it has a record of failing because of its lack of economic viability. Combining CCS with a process that is of questionable economic viability in the first place would condemn it to failure.

Environmental implications

The carbon content of the Loy Yang coal that will be used is around 72 to 83 percent (The Chemical Characteristics of Victorian Brown Coal). Working on 77% carbon content we can calculate that 160 tonnes of coal contains 123 tonnes of carbon. When burned this will combine with 328 tonnes of oxygen to produce 450 tonnes of carbon dioxide; that is 450 tonnes of greenhouse carbon dioxide to produce three tonnes of hydrogen. Is it believable that it will be economically viable to capture and store indefinitely, 450 tonnes of carbon dioxide for every three tonnes of hydrogen this mad-cap project is expected to produce? It certainly would be criminal to release the CO2 into the atmosphere.

Time to productive completion

According to the project documents, the decision to proceed to commercial phase will be made in the 2020s with operations targeted in the 2030s; so something more than 22 years for it to produce commercial quantities of hydrogen. The Crystal Brook Energy Park and the Port Lincoln electrolyser could be up and running long before that.

Who is going to pay

The Turnbull Government has promised $50m and the (Labor) Victorian Government has promised another $50m for the coal-to-hydrogen project.

The remaining $400m is apparently to come from a Japanese consortium – led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) – and the Japanese Government. This is a pilot plant, so no-one would be expecting it to make a profit. I cannot imagine why they would want to touch such a hair-brained scheme without promises of huge subsidies.

Most likely achievements

The only thing we can be sure of with this project is that there will be many millions of taxpayers' dollars going up in smoke. And if the carbon dioxide is not captured and stored we can expect 150 tonnes of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere for every tonne of hydrogen produced.

Why hydrogen anyway?

The great advantage of hydrogen as a fuel is that when it is burned only steam is produced; most other fuels release carbon dioxide. If the hydrogen is produced from renewably generated electricity, as is proposed in several projects in Australia and elsewhere, this makes sense. To burn coal to produce hydrogen makes the whole thing absurd!

More information on hydrogen – Links

For the details of PM Turnbull's last ditch stand to prop-up Victoria's doomed brown coal industry see RenewEconomy.

The Conversation; Explainer: how do we make hydrogen from coal, and is it really a clean fuel?

Carbon Commentary; 2017/07/05, Chris Goodall; "Hydrogen made by the electrolysis of water is now cost-competitive and gives us another building block for the low-carbon economy".

PM Turnbull's press release

For shear stupidity this project even eclipses Tony Abbott's 'Monash Forum'.

Written 2018/05/13

Hornsdale Power Reserve
Otherwise known as the Tesla Big Battery

The Hornsdale Tesla big battery
Big battery
The Hornsdale Power Reserve received a lot of publicity in mid 2017 when Elon Musk accepted a challenge to build it in South Australia in 100 days or do it for free. It has a maximum power output of 100 MW and an energy storage capacity of 129 MWh, it was built in well under the promised 100 days and it has been a huge success.

In an article written by Sophie Vorrath and Giles Parkinson in RenewEconomy titled "The stunning numbers behind success of Tesla big battery" and published on 2018/05/11 it was reported that:

"The Tesla big battery in South Australia has already taken a 55 per cent share in the state’s frequency and ancillary services market, and lowered prices in that market by 90 per cent, new data has shown.

Various estimates have put the cost savings to consumers from the FCAS market alone at around $35 million, just in the first four months of its operation.

That’s a pretty good bang for the buck for the estimated $50 million investment by the South Australia government. South Australia is the only state that has experienced a decline in FCAS prices over the past few months."

(Federal Liberal) Treasurer Scott Morrison shown to be ignorant or willing to lie or both

When the Tesla battery was proposed Federal (Liberal) Treasurer Scott Morrison was reported in The Daily Telegraph as having said that Mr Musk’s bid to build the world’s largest lithium ion battery wouldn’t solve any energy problems because its capacity is so small. He said:
“By all means, have the world’s biggest battery, have the world’s biggest banana, have the world’s biggest prawn like we have on the roadside around the country, but that is not solving the problem,”
Morrison said Tesla boss Mr Musk was clearly very good at promotion. “I think he saw [South Australian Labor Premier] Jay Weatherill coming.”

For a Federal Treasurer to be so greatly in error in an important financial matter is quite shocking.

Written 2018/03/20

PM Turnbull's report card

PM Turnbull, can you think of any reason that you shouldn't be given a D minus on your performance as PM?


Dishonest opposition to renewable energy

Climate change is a huge looming disaster; no well informed open minded person can doubt this. The burning of coal produces air pollution that kills millions of people each year.

I have argued elsewhere that for a person in a position of power to dishonestly support fossil fuels and disparage renewable energy is perhaps the greatest crime in the history of humanity. PM Turnbull is one such person.

In 2009 you said “I will not lead a party that is not as committed to effective action on climate change as I am”. Instead you have led a government that has been obsessed with coal and implacably opposed to renewable energy.

You have let down the Australian people, who want action on climate change and are strongly in favour of renewable energy.

You have even failed your own right wing, who seem to provide you with your instructions. Renewable energy has gone ahead in leaps and bounds, despite your (and their) best efforts to stop it; at the time of writing there were nearly 3GW of wind farms under construction in Australia, far more than at any other time; it’s the first time ever that at least one wind farm has been under construction in every Australian state. And, of course, there’s a huge amount of solar power being developed, and energy storage too.

I've listed the wind farms under construction in Australia elsewhere on this net site. South Australia's success in its adoption of renewable energy in the face of strong opposition from the Turnbull Government is described on another page. Some of the more notable renewable energy developments in Australia are listed here.

This section added 2018/05/01

Banking royal commission

The Turnbull government resisted the holding of a royal commission on the banking industry for as long as possible. In the end they were forced to allow it by a combination of Labor, the Greens, independents, and the Nationals.

The royal commission has exposed a huge range of illegal and unethical conduct by the banks and insurance industry.

Why was the Turnbull government so strongly opposed to it? You'd have to wonder if it was the greedy and wealthy looking after their own interests at the expense of the rest of us.

This sentence was written 2018/11/29
Looking back on the time of the Turnbull government in late 2018 I would have to say that in my opinion PM Turnbull's resistance to the holding of a banking royal commission would be his most shameful act other than his failure to act on climate change.

Written 2018/02/02

Why favour killer industries?
Why not favour ethical industries?

A big screen reminds people in Beijing of what a blue sky looks like
Beijing smog
Air pollution, much of which comes from burning coal, kills millions of people each year.
Image source: FengLi/Getty Images
This wind farm produces electricity without air pollution.
Waterloo Wind Farm, 
Waterloo Wind Farm, Mid North South Australia.
Australia could follow a moral course, boost its renewable energy industries and cut back on its industries that kill people and damage the planet.
In late January 2018 PM Turnbull stated an aim to spend billions of dollars on boosting the Australian arms industry. He wants Australia to become one of the world's top 10 exporters of weapons within a decade.

The Turnbull government has continued the policy of previous Coalition governments in strongly supported the coal industry while trying to slow renewable energy development.

The fact that air pollution from the burning of coal kills millions of people each year seems not to bother them, nor does the climate change damage from the burning of fossil fuels.

It seems the coal industry is not causing enough killing for the Turnbull government, he wants Australia to manufacture and export machines and devices that are more directly aimed at killing people.

There are far more ethical industries in which Australia could be involved, renewable energy is just one example. Australia has huge renewable energy resources waiting to be developed, huge potential to become a world renewable energy leader, and huge potential to export renewable energy and renewable energy technology.

Australia could be an example of a country that does good in the world, rather than a country this is big on exporting death.

What unethical industry will PM Turnbull propose next? Australia could produce and export heroin, ice, cocaine, etc. – there is big money there too, and it's probably no more unethical than weapons and coal? Does that appeal PM Turnbull?

This section added 2018/05/22

The future of mining is with metals for batteries

While the Turnbull Government tries desperately to get a bit more life out of the dying coal industry Australia is missing out on a great opportunity.

In May 2018 "a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast that demand for copper, high-purity nickel, cobalt and lithium used in the manufacture of EV battery packs was forecast to rise 31 times, 42 times, 19 times and 29 times respectively to 2030, as sales of EVs [electric vehicles] soar to 30 million by 2030."

Sophie Vorrath wrote a summary for RenewEconomy on 2018/05/22. "At current commodity prices, BNEF says, the supply of these materials for batteries would be worth $US75 billion in the year 2030."

What wasn't mentioned in the RenewEconomy article was the fast-growing market for home batteries and utility-scale batteries. These may well prove to be a greater growth industry than EV batteries.

Written 2018/01/19

Frydenberg's gaffs

First one, 2018/01/18

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg doesn't miss a chance to blame any problem in the electricity supply on South Australia's renewable energy. On 2018/01/18 he blamed SA for exceptionally high wholesale electricity prices that were actually due to a big coal-fired power station in Victoria failing.

Sophie Vorrath wrote an article for RenewEconomy giving the real reason for the wholesale electricity price spike: the sudden failure of one of the generation units at Victoria's Loy Yang B power station. Wholesale prices went to over $10,000/MWh in both Victoria and SA.

The cause seems to have been the heatwave conditions; quoting from Ms Vorrath's article:

"The sudden outage of the Loy Yang B unit is the 13th failure of a major coal unit this summer."

"Thursday’s unexplained outage of Loy Yang B caused the near instant loss of 530MW of capacity, and sent prices soaring in Victoria (to more than $12,900MWh) and South Australia, to a peak of $14,600/MWh."

Of course no minister of the Turnbull Government would ever say a critical word about a coal-fired power station.

Second one, 2018/01/22

Simon Holmes à Court picked up this one too and wrote about it on RenewEconomy.

Josh Frydenberg, Australia's federal Minister for Environment and Energy, continued to attempt to rubbish South Australia in an interview broadcast on the ABC's Radio National. On the interview, in which he attempted very unconvincingly to deny Australia's increasing greenhouse emissions, Mr Frydenberg said that SA burns "80,000 litres of diesel an hour, just to keep the lights on". It seems that if all SA's new diesel generators, designed and used for emergencies only, were to run for an hour at full tilt, they would burn 80,000 litres of diesel.

According to Mr Holmes à Court the generators have burnt less that 40 tonnes (about 45,000 litres) of diesel in total to the present. By way of comparison, the Port Augusta power stations, the closing of which Mr Frydenberg has strongly criticised, burnt 67 tonnes of brown coal every hour. Unlike the emergency diesel generators, the bigger of the two coal-fired power stations, the Northern, used to run continually for months at a time.

Mr Frydenberg hates renewable energy, but he seems to hate South Australia even more, presumably because of SA's highly successful adoption of renewables.

Written 2017/06/12,
Added to 2017/07/08



Coal kills far more people than terrorists do

PM Turnbull, your government is concerned about terrorism – terrorists kill about 20,000 people each year. Your government supports the coal industry big time – its air pollution kills millions of people each year. Your government opposes wind power – wind turbines don't kill anyone.

Does this make any sense?

Terrorism and coal
Wind turbines save lives
Killer coal

PM Turnbull has made statements roundly condemning the recent terrorist bombing in Manchester. At the same time he is doing his best to slow the take-up of renewable energy in Australia and to support the dying coal industry. The burning of coal kills hundreds of thousands, quite probably millions, of people each year from its air pollution. It is also one of the main causes of the climate change and ocean acidification that will probably kill millions, possibly billions of people and result in the extinction of many thousands of species in the next fifty years or so.

PM Turnbull's condemnation of a terrorist who was responsible for the death of some 22 people in Manchester is the grossest hypocrisy when he is involved in actions that will bring about the deaths of enormously more people and do incomparably more harm.

More Hypocrisy, July 2017

Josh Frydenberg, the Turnbull Government's Minister for Environment and Energy, said that while emissions have been rising – as shown in figures that he had just been forced to release – he was confident that Australia would achieve its emissions targets because "there is a rapid transition taking place" in our energy generation system. (The rapid transition being the building of many wind farms and utility-scale solar power stations.)

What Mr Frydenberg did not say was that the transition was taking place in spite of the COALition's best efforts to stop it.

This section added 2018/05/21

Climate change and national security

On 2018/05/17 The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade presented its report on the national security implications of climate change. The report was summarised in The Conversation by Matt McDonald, Associate Professor of International Relations, The University of Queensland.

The Turnbull government has continued the harsh treatment of refugees that was put in place by previous governments. At the same time they have done their best to slow Australia's change from fossil fuels to renewable energy and, as the Senate Committee recognised, climate change will greatly increase the numbers of refugees.

The Turnbull government's support for the fossil fuel industry and opposition to the renewable energy industry is exacerbating climate change and so leading to a long term increase in security threats.

This is another form of hypocrisy, on the one hand the Turnbull government justified setting up the Australian Border Force on the grounds that there was a major threat from people trying to get into the country and at the same time it is taking actions that will increase that threat.

This section added 2017/05/01

Westpac joins the other big Australian banks and many overseas banks in ruling out financing Adani's Galilee Basin Carmichael coal mine


Why are the banks turning their backs on the Carmichael Mine?

We would like to see banks refusing to fund unethical projects for ethical grounds, but I strongly suspect that this is all to do with financial considerations. The banks recognise that coal has no future, that it is simply a bad investment. They would lose their money if the mine was forced to close after only five or ten years, as is likely to happen as the seriousness of the need for climate change action becomes more obvious.
In late April 2017 Westpac, one of Australia's 'big four' banks, has launched its updated Climate Change Action Plan. The Action Plan included these points, among others:
  1. $10 billion target for lending to climate change solutions by 2020 and $25 billion by 2030.
  2. Tighter criteria for financing any new coal mines. Financing for any new thermal coal projects limited to existing coal producing basins and where the calorific value of coal meets the energy content of at least 6,300kCal/kg Gross as Received – i.e. projects must rank in the top 15% globally.
  3. Commitment to actively reduce the emissions intensity of the power generation sector, targeting 0.30 tCO2e/MWh by 2020.
  4. Continued commitment to a broad market-based price on carbon as the most efficient way to.
The second point was of particular relevance to the situation at the time. The Indian Company Adani had a very controversial proposal to open a huge coal mine (Carmichael Mine) in Queensland's Galilee Basin, which had not been previously mined. Adani told the Queensland land court in 2014 that the Carmichael coal would only have 4,950kCal/kg, so the mine fails to meat Westpac's criteria on two grounds.

According to The Guardian all of Australia's big four banks have now ruled out funding, or withdrawn support from, the Carmichael Mine. Quoting The Guardian:

"NAB ruled out funding the Carmichael project in September 2015, a month after Commonwealth Bank parted ways with Adani as project finance adviser.

The CEO of ANZ, Shayne Elliott, in effect ruled out financing the mine last December when he predicted a downward shift in the bank's exposure to coalmining would continue for the foreseeable future."
Westpac's forth point shows yet again that Australia needs a price on carbon; something that the Turnbull Government has consistently, and pig-headedly, refused to countenance.

RenewEconomy reported, 2017/05/02, that 15 other banks around the world had also refused to fund the mine.

This section added 2017/03/11

A predicted shortfall in gas supply

A part of Boco Rock Wind Farm, NSW
Boco Rock turbines
The installed capacity of Boco Rock WF is 113 MW; it will probably generate around 350 GWh per year.
Photo taken 2016/11/14
In March 2017 the Australian Energy Market Operator published a Gas Statement of Opportunities. The first Key point in the Executive Summary stated:
"Declining gas production may result in insufficient gas to meet projected demand by GPG [gas powered generation] for supply of electricity from summer 2018-19.
– To meet electricity supply needs, the NEM [National Electricity Market] requires either increases in gas production to fuel GPG, or a rapid implementation of alternative non-gas electricity generation sources. If neither occurs, AEMO projects that declining gas supplies could result in electricity supply shortfalls between 2019 and 2021 of approximately 80 gigawatt hours (GWh) to 363 GWh across South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria."
In recent years the total annual electricity consumption on the National Electricity Market has been around 200 TWh per year, so the projected 363 GWh short-fall is only 0.18% of that total.

Renewable energy systems, especially wind and solar, could and should be built at greater rates than at present. However, gas fired electricity is valuable for keeping generation up to the peaks in electricity demand; some types of gas-fired power stations are well suited to providing power exactly when it is needed, wind and solar PV cannot do that (although solar thermal with storage can).

Demand for gas could be reduced in several ways:

  1. Solar thermal power with energy storage could be developed, it is well developed in the USA and Spain;
  2. Incentives could be given for household battery systems and electric vehicle batteries to be linked to the grid and to supply power in periods of exceptional demand;
  3. Existing hydro power could be reserved as far as possible for generating in peak consumption periods, reducing the need for gas peaking power plants;
  4. Batteries or new pumped hydro systems could be used to store electricity when it is abundant so that they could then feed it back into the grid during peak demand;
  5. The gas that is not required because of new generation from renewables could be stored in Victoria's Iona underground gas storage for later use in periods of high demand;
  6. Those who use gas for home and water heating could be given incentives to change to electricity instead. Electric heat-pumps (such as reverse-cycle air conditioners) are a more energy-efficient way of heating than gas;
  7. It is in winter when electricity demand is highest in Victoria, for home and water heating; winds tend to be strongest and most consistant in winter, so wind power would be well suited to at least partly take the place of gas in that state.

This section added 2017/02/10

Coober Pedy changes its electricity generation from mostly diesel to 50% renewables in a few months
Will the sky fall in?

Construction of Coober Pedy Wind Farm, February 2017
Turbine construction
Image credit Coober Pedy Regional Times
South Australia has gone from very little renewable power in 2003 to around 40% in 2017. The South Australian government has a target of 50% renewbles by 2020.

PM Turnbull has said that this, going from zero to 50% in 17 years is dangerously rash.

Coober Pedy is a small town 750 km north of Adelaide. It is not connected to the eastern Australia National Electricity Market (NEM) grid. The town has had a small, 0.15 MW, wind turbine since 1991, but has relied mostly on very expensive diesel-powered generators for its electrical supply.

In 2017 the town was adding two 2 MW wind turbines, 2 MW of solar PV and batteries. They are going from near 100% diesel-generated power to 50% renewables in a matter of a few months!

PM Turnbull, if the SA government is rash, what are the people of Coober Pedy?!

Updated 2017/02/16

The SA power-outage of 2017/02/09 was due to bad management, not renewables

Clements Gap
Clements Gap Wind Farm

Update 2017/02/16

The ABC reported that three times as many homes had their power cut than were needed.
On the afternoon of the first day of a heatwave 90,000 South Australian homes had their power cut off for periods of a half to three-quarters of an hour. This was done by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) because there was a very high demand for power and a shortage in generation.

PM Turnbull blamed the 'load-shedding' on our renewable energy. This was quite dishonest. The low winds were forecast, the low level of wind power was expected, the high demand for power to run air-conditioners was expected. There was ample generation available had Pelican Point No. 2 gas-fired power station been called in; it was not.

This was a simple case of poor management by AEMO.

Further, the SA state government has little direct control over the day-to-day running of our power supply since Liberal Premier John Olsen privatised our electricity supply – after promising not to before the election that put him into power. AEMO reports to the Federal Energy Minister, so if any politician needs to take responsibility for the load-shedding it would seem to be he.

PM Turnbull has simply and quite dishonestly used this event to further the interests of the coal industry that is one of the main drivers of climate change and ocean acidification and is responsible for millions of deaths around the world every year from its air pollution.

Load-shedding in NSW, same heatwave, next day, 2017/02/10


Coal fails in NSW, wind and solar to the rescew

Renew Economy reported on 2017/02/13 that two 500 MW units of the coal-burning Liddell power station were out of action during the heatwave because of boiler tube leaks. On the other hand, NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin said "It's the biggest day ever for solar" and that there was "plenty of wind power generation coming from the wind turbines along the Great Dividing Range".
As reported by the ABC the Tomago aluminium smelter, which normally consumes 10% of NSW's electricity, curtailed its power consumption to avoid the necessity of load-shedding elsewhere in the state.

A power outage affecting 11,000 customers in the Sydney suburbs of Burwood and Strathfield at around the time of peak electricity demand (around 4pm) was not caused by load-shedding, but would have reduced power demand at a critical time.

South Australia didn't have an aluminium smelter that could curtail its power consumption the day before.

PM Turnbull, is there any significant difference between this event, in mainly coal-powered NSW, and the event the day before, in more renewables-powered SA?

This section added 2017/02/05

Proposal to subsidise new coal-fired power stations

Mugga Lane Solar Farm
Mugga Lane
One of the solar farms recently built in the Australian Capital Territory – photo November 2016
In early 2017 both Prime Minister Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister (and head of the Australian Nationals) Barnaby Joice made statements favourable to subsidising and building new coal-fired power stations in Australia.

These are not needed and not wanted by most of the Australian people; both large-scale solar and wind power are expanding and there is little increase in electricity demand from the grid. The continuing installation of solar power on the roofs of Australian homes as well as the increasing number of utility-scale solar power stations (like the one in the photo on the right) is also reducing demand for new fossil fuel power.

The Coalition are proposing heavily subsidising new coal-fired power stations because banks and investment funds will not support them – simply because they are a very bad investment.

As Frank Jotzo, Director, Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, Australian National University, wrote in The Coversation,

"New coal plants wouldn't be clean, and would cost billions in taxpayer subsidies".

"Major Australian energy companies have ruled out building new coal plants. The Australian Energy Council sees them as "uninvestable". Banks and investment funds would not touch them with a barge pole. Only government subsidies could do it."
How absurd and unethical it would be for the Australian government to heavily subsidise the building of more coal-fired power stations for this killer industry when they are not even economically viable?

Map of the Great Barrier Reef showing results of aerial surveys for 911 reefs
GBR damage
Image credit ARC Centre of Excellence, Coral Reef Studies
Media release dated April 2016

How many disasters will it take?

Edited 2017/09/08
First, in March 2016, there was the worst bleaching event on record for the Great Barrier Reef, then just in the last few days, we heard that there was a large scale die-back of mangroves along hundreds of kilometres of the south coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria and that a marine heatwave has wiped out kelp forests along a 100km of WA's coast.

In August and September of 2017 there was climate change linked devestation in southern Asia and North America: record monsoonal flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, record flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, unprecedented wildfires in Canada and the north-western USA. At the time of writing, another hurricane, Irma was leaving a wake of destruction on its way to Florida.

"Ideology and idiocy"

What was the Turnbull Government doing? Still considering giving a billion dollars of taxpayers' money to Adani to open a new coal mine, pushing for keeping the Liddell coal-fired power station open five years more than its owner, AGL, intended. And at the same time criticising the SA Government's great success in going from fossil fuelled to renewable electricity as "ideology and idiocy in equal measures". (See articles by the ABC and the Huffington Post.)

How many more disasters like this will it take for you and your government to state taking serious action over climate change PM Turnbull?

Is it PM Turnbull's ambition to go down in history as the man who did the most toward the death of the Great Barrier Reef?

This section added 2016/12/05
In early December 2016 PM Turnbull announced that he would seriously consider a lone of $1b of Australia's tax-payers' money to help Adani build a railway line so that he could mine and ship coal from the Galilee Basin through the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).


Not financially viable

Adani has been unable to get finance for building the railway line from the normal sources because it is very unlikely that the Carmichael mine will ever be financially viable; the banks don't want to know about it. Indian Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has repeatedly stated he plans to end virtually all thermal coal imports into India by the end of the decade.

Adani is also into solar, but Turnbull can't see past coal

In early December 2016 Adani commissioned the biggest single-location solar PV power installation in the world, 648MW in his homeland, India.
This will produce a multiplicity of new threats to the reef that is already suffering heavy damage from both pollution and global warming.

Another port on the GBR coast will result in silting of the reef. The many ships that go into and out of the port will add to pollution and there will be accidents, spillages of fuel and groundings. Finally, of course, the last thing this planet needs is another coal mine to add to the greenhouse emissions that are the main cause of disastrous climate change.

The context of the map on the right can be seen on CoralCOE.

Also see Great Barrier Reef suffered worst bleaching on record in 2016, report finds, BBC.

South Australia's storms and power-outage of September 2016
Blame them on renewable energy!

This section added 2016/10/04
How many times have climate scientists warned us that violent weather events will become more common with the warming of the atmosphere?

South Australia suffered two such events – exceptional winds and rains – in September 2016; the first on 14-15th and the second on 28-29th. The second of these events, coming on top of already saturated soils, caused flooding and the loss of grid-electricity over the whole of the state.

There are four major power transmission lines connecting Adelaide to the north of the state; 22 or 23 power pylons on three of these were blown down. We were told that the state's power system could have handled the loss of two of the transmission lines, but three were too many; the system had to shut down to avoid further damage. (The saturated soil combined with high winds caused some of the pylon's legs to pull out of the ground; others were simply bent over by the force of the wind.)

What does this have to do with the Turnbull Government? The Turnbull Government did its best to blame the power outage on SA's high level of renewable energy! True to form, they continue to mindlessly support the coal industry (one of the main causes of climate change and the increasingly frequent violent weather events) and denigrate renewable energy. Blaming damage caused by burning coal on the renewable energy industry is classic Orwellian political reasoning by a political party devoted to the dying coal industry.

This section added 2017/09/05

More 'natural' disasters caused by climate change

Devastating Hurricane Harvey has cost the USA more than $100 billion dollars and 50 deaths while flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh has killed at least 1200 and directly affected more than 40 million people. Both disasters, if not directly ascribable to climate change were made much more likely by climate change, so the need to change from the burning of fossil fuels to renewable energy such as wind, solar PV, solar thermal, wave, tidal and biofuels is shown to be even more urgent.

Yet the Turnbull Government is still opposing the change to renewable energy and considering giving a billion dollars of taxpayers' money to shonky coal mining company Adani so that they can increase the pollution of the atmosphere we all share.

For more information, see Climate Change Disasters.

Who is our PM?

Before becoming Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull went on record as supporting same-sex marriage, supporting action on climate change and strongly supporting Australia becoming a republic.

As of early February 2016 Mr Turnbull in his PM's hat seems to have betrayed all of these ideals.

  • He is supporting the unnecessary plebiscite on same-sex marriage, when a number of polls have left no doubt that the majority of Australians want same-sex marriage recognised in law. The only reason for the plebiscite seems to be to delay changing the laws.
  • Since becoming PM Mr Turnbull has done very little to increase the amount of renewable energy in Australia and to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions; the hiatus in wind farm construction engineered by PM Abbott continues under PM Turnbull and it has just been reported that Australia's emissions have increased for the first time since the Howard years.
  • PM Turnbull has said that he still supports Australia becoming a republic, but he seems to be opposing it happening in the near future.
PM Turnbull, ask yourself, are you really leading the Coalition, or are you following their moribund and outdated policies? Is holding onto the top job really worth the sacrifice of your ethical standards? Have you taken Tony Abbott's job, or have you just become a clone of Tony Abbott?

Australia's greenhouse emissions

Australia's greenhouse emissions have increased every year since the Liberal/National government was elected in 2013. The Turnbull government wants to open the huge Carmichael coal mine in Queensland's Galilee Basin, this will just make the situation worse.

The Climate Change Performance Index: Results 2015
Climate action rating
Image source: The Climate Change Performance Index: Results 2015
Produced by Germanwatch and the Climate Action Network of Europe
Note Australia's position; second last of 61 nations.

Emissions from fuels in Australia
Cedex emissions
Graph credit CEDEX report by Pitt and Sherry
The above table shows Australia's performance on climate change. The report also went into climate change policy, in which the comment about Australia was:
"Since joining the "very poor" group last year, Australia has lost even more ground and now comes in last together with Canada and Turkey."
The graph on the right, is from the CEDEX (Carbon Emissions inDEX) report from data to February 2016.

It clearly shows that during the period in which the Carbon Tax was in force, from July 2012 to July 2014, total emissions from fuels (the grey line on the graph) fell steeply and then rose steeply when the Abbott Coalition Government repealed the Carbon Tax.

The repealing of the Carbon Tax, which the graph indicates was highly effective at reducing emissions from the Australian energy sector, was a crime against the younger people of Australia and the world, and a crime against future generations. The increased emissions since the repealing of the carbon tax, which could easily have been avoided (by keeping the Carbon Tax in force), are convincing evidence of this crime.

Climate science denier to head environment and energy committee

In late August 2016 climate science denier Craig Kelly was named as the head of the Coalition's Environment and Energy Committee.

PM Turnbull, before becoming PM, has said that he wants action on climate change. This move shows much about who is in control of the Coalition, and it does not apear to be Mr Turnbull.

What about our grandchildren?

I have a son, a daughter and three grandchildren. If humanity keeps on burning fossil fuels at anything like the current rate the world that my children and grandchildren inherit will be a very inferior place to the world that we all have known.

PM Turnbull has a son, a daughter and two grandchildren. Does he not care about the world that he is going to be responsible for handing them? With his unconditional support for fossil fuels and implacable opposition to renewable energy, he seems to be doing his best to destroy it.

The coal industry is dying, the renewable energy industry is growing exponentially, yet PM Turnbull and the Coalition, apparently blind to the future and living in the past, are desparately trying to hold back the tide. This is not only environmental madness, it is economic madness.

Australia has among the highest per-capita greenhouse gas production rate of any nation on the planet. We therefore have a greater responsibility than any other nation to reduce our emissions; but instead of leading the world we are perhaps the most recalcitrant of all the nations in the global effort to save the future for our grandchildren.

It would be interesting to know what conversations PM Turnbull has had with his son and daughter about the damage he is responsible for.

How can a man knowingly do such evil? I cannot imagine how he can live with his conscience.

Great Barrier Reef bleaching

Map of the Great Barrier Reef showing results of aerial surveys for 911 reefs
GBR bleaching
Image credit ARC Centre of Excellence, Coral Reef Studies
Media release dated April 2016
PM Turnbull, no doubt you are aware of the parlous state of much of the Great Barrier Reef. You would also be aware of how great a financial as well as environmental asset it is to Australia, and of how any Australian government would be roundly, and rightly, condemned by the world community if the reef was lost to the world due to that government's actions or inactions.

This being so, will you change the decision to allow the Carmichael mine to go ahead? Will you start taking climate change seriously?

The context of the map on the right can be seen on CoralCOE.

Increasing damage to the reef at the same time as trying to reduce the damage

In late April 2018 the Turnbull Government announced that they would spend $500 million of taxpayers' money on trying to alleviate the damage to the GBR that is largely caused by climate change and ocean acidification.

This is happening at the same time as the Turnbull Government is looking for more ways of burning coal, and so increasing the rate of climate change and ocean acidification. Just one of the ways that the government is trying to increase coal burning is the brown coal to hydrogen project announced only a short time before this 'save the reef' package.

I'm sure that the reader will not need any further explanation in order to see to stupidity of this.
The sixteen warmest years (1880-2015)
Hottest 16 years
Image credit NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA)
"Coral bleaching threat for GBR rises to highest level", ABC, 2016/03/21. Professor Andrew Western of the University of Melbourne said to Eleanor Hall of the ABC, "the main driver behind the mass bleaching event is climate change, the effects of which will be felt much further afield than just the north-east coast".

The sixteen hottest years

That the GBR is suffering is not surprising considering that the sixteen hottest years in the history of reliable global temperature data have all occurred since 1998 – as shown in the table on the right. (See NOAA, USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Authority.)

PM Turnbull, how much damage to our planet are you willing to tolerate before you do something significant about Australia's exceptionally high emissions?

A questionable gift

In 2018 PM Turnbull and environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg provided funding to a small company under questionable circumstances with the claimed aim of protecting the Great Barrier Reef. For more information see the Guardian article by Lisa Cox: PM personally approved $443m fund for tiny Barrier Reef foundation

Australia came third last among 58 nations ranked on climate change performance

In an assessment on climate change performance conducted by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe released at the Paris climate summit Australia managed to come ahead of only Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan; my country was beaten by 55 of 57 other nations, truly a shameful performance.

For more read the article written in The Guardian by Lenore Taylor, 2015/12/08.

Australia's electricity generation industry, where is it, where is it going, and where might it go if we had good government?

Australian generation
Image from Nem Watch
Wind farm at dawn
The graph on the right shows where Australia's electricity was coming from at 7:50am on 2015/09/22.

The colours indicate the type of electrical generation:

Black:Black coal
Brown:Brown coal
Yellow:Small-scale solar
Orange:Large-scale solar

As the graph indicated, most of our electricity was coming from coal-fired power stations. This is a pretty typical snapshot of Australia's electricity generation mix.

What we could be seeing if we had serious action on climate change

In early 2003 South Australia had no wind power. In 2015 an average of about 40% of SA's electricity was coming from wind farms; the proportion on the graph is typical. There is no reason why 40% or more of the electricity for the whole of Australia couldn't be coming from wind farms by now.

While solar generates much less power in Australia than wind at the time of writing, solar also could easily generate 40% or more of Australia's electricity. (The data for the graph were collected early in the day when the sun was low in the sky and solar power was modest.)

What we are seeing under our present government

Australia ranks 53rd in the world in population, but sixth in the world in the CO2 produced by its electricity industry; it has 0.3% of the world's population, but produces 1.5% of the world's greenhouse gasses; it is well up among the worst greenhouse polluters on the planet. This gives Australia and all Australians an ethical responsibility to reduce the harm we are doing to the planet.

By early December 2015 it wasn't looking like Malcolm Turnbull as PM was going to substantially change the shameful situation in which Australia is one of the most greenhouse gas polluting nations on the planet.

The future of energy

The writing is on the wall; the era of energy from fossil fuels is coming to an end; it must be if the planet and the next generations are to have a future not greatly damaged by climate change, air pollution and ocean acidification. The coal industry is facing its end days at present, other fossil fuels must and will go not long after.

We must accept that the future is with renewable energy; there is no other option that can be sustained.

We have two choices: we can cling to the dying fossil fuel industry like a drowning man grasping at a straw, or we can make a bigger effort and swim to the nearby renewable energy lifeboat. The first option may be the most profitable in the short-term, but will cause irreparable damage to our planet; the second option will minimise the damage to the planet and will give us the best long-term economic result.

Australia has huge resources in wind and solar power. Why are we not developing them?

Decreased run-off due to higher carbon dioxide levels

Research done by Anna Ukkola and Albert Van Dijk reported on The Conversation on 2015/10/21 links higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels with reduced run-off in "subhumid and semi-arid" part of Australia. The map included in The Conversation article indicated that the wetter parts of the Murray-Darling Basin are all within these zones.

Considering the importance of the Murray-Darling to Australia's economy, do you see this as yet another reason to act on climate change PM Turnbull?

Leave if you don't like Australia

My country
My country, Australia
Recently it has been said: "If you don't like Australia you should leave". Perhaps that is a reasonable thing to ask of someone who is new to the country, but what about those who've lived here for a long while?

I've lived in this country all my life, I believe all my grand-parents were born in this country. I love this country, but I don't like the way it is going.

Australia is among the worst greenhouse polluting nations on the planet. We should be fixing this; we are not. Our government is doing as little as possible about greenhouse gas production.

Our national anthem says "We have boundless plains to share", yet we send refugees overseas and lock them up under appalling conditions.

The Howard Government involved Australia in George W. Bush's Iraq war, which was immoral, unjustified, unethical, and in the end hugely disastrous. Subsequent governments continue to follow the US lead, wherever it may go.

I don't much like this country the way it is being run at present, but I will try to change it for the better rather than leaving.

Prime Minister Turnbull, can we hope for something better soon?

How serious will climate change be?

Disasters compared
Disasters compared
Numbers of human deaths likely

Anthropogenic climate change

Anthropogenic means 'caused by Man'.
In order to try to get across the importance of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) I've written a Net page comparing a number of different types of disaster, natural and man-made.

The graph on the right attempts to summarise the result. Apologies to those not mathmatically inclined, it had to be logarithmic if it was to have any chance of showing the numbers involved.

An important difference between ACC and other disasters, and no doubt one of the reasons that ACC doesn't get the attention it deserves, is that while the other disasters would happen in hours, days, months or at most a few years, the worst effects of ACC will probably take a century or more to develop.

PM Turnbull, how can we continue to 'fiddle around the edges' of ACC rather than take serious action and retain any self respect?

Minister Hunt and off-shore wind turbines

This section added 2015/11/08
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has recently spoken about Australia adopting off-shore wind power on "a grand scale".

This is curious, even bizzare, because we have many excellent unused on-shore wind farm sites and off-shore wind power costs about twice as much as on-shore.

Off-shore wind power is attractive in those countries that lack the space for more on-shore wind farms, for example, Denmark with 113 kW of wind power installed per square kilometre. Australia has only 0.5 kW per square kilometre (World Wind Energy Report 2014).

One has to wonder if there is some sort of hidden agenda in this PM Turnbull? Could it be a move to discredit wind power by looking into the costs of off-shore wind power and then claiming wind power in general is too expensive?

Or is it simply that Minister Hunt knows very little about wind power? That would not be surprising since he, like all the Turnbull Government, seems to be fixated on fossil fuel energy rather than renewables.

Edited 2017/02/17

Air pollution from coal

Coal pollution is the most dangerous

Justin Worland wrote a piece in Time on 2015/12/02 under the headline "Coal Is the Most Dangerous Pollutant for Heart Disease".

The research showed that air pollution from the burning of coal for electricity generation was something like five times as damaging to our hearts as was general air pollution. The research also showed that Diesel traffic-related soot was associated with heart disease deaths but that particulate air pollution from both wind-blown soil and biomass combustion were not.

PM Malcolm Turnbull is known to have serious concerns about the burning of coal and the resulting climate change, yet he still follows the Liberal party line and promotes the dying coal industry. Will this news give him any second thoughts? I suspect that ambition will win-out over his conscience, again.

The health study report can be read at Environmental Health Perspective.

China's cancer rates "exploding"; ABC

"China's cancer rates exploding, more than 4 million people diagnosed in 2015, study says". Written by ABC's China Correspondent Matthew Carney, 2016/03/24.

"In some of the industrial provinces, lung cancer rates have increased a staggering four-fold" and the cause seems to be air pollution, largely due to coal burning.

"Cancer has been the leading cause of death in China since 2010, with lung cancer causing the most deaths."

Energy poverty

The Turnbull Coalition government tells us that exporting coal to India is a wonderful thing because it lifts so many people out of "energy poverty", but the air pollution from the burning of that coal also kills 1.1 million Indians each year as reported by Think Progress. (More information on this can be read via links on another page.) You can't enjoy having electric lights if you are dead.

We'd be doing the Indian people a much bigger favour if we were to help them develop renewable wind and solar power to lift them out of energy poverty without the pollution from coal-burning.

Renewable energy and electricity costs

Wholesale elec. prices

Electricity costs have gone up Australia-wide, not just where there is new renewable energy

Mike Sandiford wrote a piece for The Conversation, 2017/07/20. He included a graph from the European Commission's latest electricity market update (on the right) showing that since Josh Frydenberg became Australia's Energy Minister wholesale electricity prices have risen steeply, at least doubling from around 20 Euros per MWh in September 2015, even reaching a peak of well over 100 Euros for a short time in early 2017.

Minister Frydenberg has notoriously criticised South Australia's renewable energy for pushing prices up, but since South Australia's electricity demand is about 7% of Australia's total it plays very little part in Australia-wide electricity prices. About 80% of Australia's electricity demand is in the three eastern mainland states and they are predominantly powered by coal.

Plainly, wholesale electricity costs in Australia are not going up because of renewable energy.

Mike Sandiford is Chair of Geology and Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, University of Melbourne.

Electricity costs
Table credit: Household Energy Costs in Australia 2006 to 2016, Ben Phillips, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, February 2017.

South Australia, renewables and electricity costs

Australian media (particularly the Murdoch-owned media), Liberal and National party politicians and other supporters of the fossil fuel industries have claimed that increases in retail electricity costs in South Australia have been due to that states high level of renewable energy.

The table on the right shows that electricity expenditure in the period from 2006 to 2016 has increased more in the predominently coal-powered states of Victoria, NSW and Queensland than they have in SA. (Most of SA's renewable energy was built in this period.)

The Australian Capital Territory is transitioning to 100% renewable electricity by 2020 and also has some of the cheapest retail electricity prices in the nation. As can be seen in the table, the ACT's growth in electricity costs is also among the lowest in the nation.

It seems that any honest person would put down the electricity price rises to causes other than renewables.

100% renewable power and cheapest electricity in Australia

RenewEconomy reported on 2016/04/29 that the Australian Capital Territory government had a target of 100% renewable electricity by 2020 and at the same time was retaining the lowest power prices in the country.

The ACT's Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Simon Corbell, said "We are demonstrating through these policies that not only is a transition to a renewable energy future achievable, it is affordable and is creating jobs."

This demonstrates that renewables now are highly competitive with fossil fuels, especially including coal. This being so, why would anyone choose coal in a world that must reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible?

You'd have to wonder why the Turnbull Government is doing all it can to discredit the renewable energy industry and the federal Labor Party's modest emission reduction aims other than to undemocratically support the coal industry against the needs of the future of the planet.

The Great Barrier Reef is playing the part of the canary in the coal mine; the canary is dying and showing us that the atmosphere has become dangerously loaded with inappropriate gasses.

Electric vehicles

Australia's take-up of electric vehicles is lagging far behind other western nations as well as China. A quote from Gizmodo:
While Australians have been keen adopters of innovative green technology such as rooftop solar generation and household batteries, our uptake of electric vehicles is woeful compared to that of similar countries worldwide. In recent years, market share of EVs has reached as high as 0.75% in the US, 0.58% in Japan, and up to 1.1% in the UK – while they make up only a paltry 0.01% of the Australian market.
Puting this another way, Australia's market share of EVs is 1/58th that of Japan, 1/75th that of the USA and about 1/110th that in the UK. (The statistic on electric car sales in Australia came from CarsGuide.)

The lack of take-up of electric cars in Australia has been attributed to a corresponding lack of incentives provided by the Australian Government, in contrast to other governments around the world.

Of course the Turnbull Government is opposed to EVs because they don't burn fossil fuels.

Government debt

Government debt
Graph source: The Conversation
Before the Labor Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Government lost power in September 2013 the Liberals, under then leader Abbott, repeatedly – even ad-nauseam – told the Australian people that the level of government deficit was crippling and a looming disaster that future Australians would have to pay dearly to address.

The deficit only increased during the Abbott and Turnbull Governments.

In February 2016, having achieved nothing toward improving the government's income/expenditure ratio, PM Turnbull announced a huge increase in spending on 'defence', at a time when there were no obvious external threats to the nation. (Terrorism was a minor threat, but not one from which conventional armaments could protect the nation.)

(At the same time the COALition has destroyed the wind farm construction industry together with many, many renewable energy jobs.)

Backing a dying horse

Hazelwood coal mine fire, February 2014
Hazelwood fire
It seems that the then Victorian Liberal government were quite happy to have coal mines in this area, even when they are run incompetently, but wind turbines were against the law. Does the reader see any ethical problems with laws like this?
Image credit
In late February 2016, at a time when the government deficit was high and growing and when fossil fuels were plainly losing the race against renewables the Turnbull Government announced that they were providing $15.4 million of taxpayer's money into a fund to prop-up uranium mining and the dying Australian fossil fuel industry.

Australia has huge potential for renewable energy developments, including particuarly, wind, solar and wave power. This is obviously the way of the future of energy, at a time when we must reduce greenhouse gas production and when the costs of renewables are continually declining. Australia's renewable energy potential gives us a big natural competative advantage against other advanced nations, should we ever get a government willing to develop the industry.

In regard to uranium mining, the South Australian Royal Commission into the nuclear cycle had recently stated in their provisional conclusions that nuclear power in South Australia was too expensive to be viable. nuclear power had previously been shown to be much more expensive than at least some renewables elsewhere.

A proposal to reopen an old, dirty, uneconomical coal-fired power station.

Port Augusta's closed Northern Power station is on the left.
Sundrop Farm's solar power-tower is on the right.
The way of the past is on the left, the way of the future is on the right

October 2016

Is your government totally in the pocket of the coal industry PM Turnbull? Your Resources Minister has proposed using taxpayers' money to reopen SA's coal fired power station.

The Northern Power Station at Port Augusta was the dirtiest in the country in terms of emissions per KWh of power generated, it was old; it was an obvious choice for closure as a means of reducing emissions; but it was not closed because of the damage it was doing to the world. The coal resource at Leigh Creek was mostly mined-out, but the main reason the power station was closed was because the owners decided it was uneconomical to keep it open.

If the Turnbull Coalition government was to use taxpayer's money to reopen this old power station it would have to be one of the most unethical acts ever by an Australian government (at least since Liberal PM John Howard got Australia involved in the Iraq War) and Australia would be even more an international climate-inaction pariah than it already is.

You know, don't you, that we should be closing more coal-fired power stations, not reopening closed ones. You know this, but you also know that if you do the right thing the right wing of the Liberals – who seem to be running the party at present – will take your job away from you. Have you considered doing the right thing because it is the right thing? It's not as if you need the PM's salary, you are a very wealthy man.

PM Turnbull, you have a family; even if you put your own ambition before the good of the world, do you put it before the future of your children?

Read more on this proposal to turn back the clock in the Sydney Morning Herald.

It seems that everyone other than the Australian Coalition parties know that 'the end is nigh' for coal. Burning coal causes millions of illnesses and deaths each year from air pollution, and it is one of the main causes of climate change and ocean acidification.

There is more on Sundrop Farms elsewhere on this site.

Exporting coal to India

The Turnbull Coalition government tells us that exporting coal to India is a wonderful thing because it lifts so many people out of "energy poverty". It's just a pity that the air pollution from the burning of that coal also kills 1.1 million Indians each year. Perhaps the coal supporters would tell us that life is cheap in India and this doesn't much matter.

I can't help thinking, though, that we'd be doing the Indians a bigger favour if we were to help them develop non-polluting renewable wind and solar power to lift them out of energy poverty.

Poll: Government losing the argument

A poll conducted by Essential Report, dated 2017/02/21 and summarised in The Conversation shows that the Turnbull Government is not convincing the Australian public that "coal is good, renewables are bad" no matter how many times they repeat the message in one form or another. Just a couple of quotes from The Conversation:
More than seven in ten (71%) said the government was not doing enough to ensure "affordable, reliable and clean energy" for households and businesses. Only 12% said it was. Fewer than one-quarter (23%) of Coalition voters thought it was doing enough. 62% of these voters said it wasn't.

The poll found 45% agreed with the proposition that recent blackouts "are due mainly to failures of the energy market in responding to extreme weather events". 19% agreed they "are due mainly to the privatisation of electricity supply". Just 16% said they "are the result of too much reliance on renewable energy".
To read more, follow the links above.

A letter to PM Turnbull

15th October 2015

Dear PM Turnbull;

I will make my main points right at the start:

  • Coal has no future, environmentally or economically;
  • The world is changing to renewables;
  • An eventual change from fossil fuel powered vehicles to electric vehicles, with the electricity being provided by renewables, is inevitable;
  • Australia must recognise these facts and keep up with changing technology, or we will be left behind by more progressive nations.
It happens that the region I live in, Mid North SA, has by far the greatest concentration of wind farms (and therefore the greatest concentration of new renewable energy infrastructure) in Australia. As I have been pushing for climate change action for many years, and am very supportive of wind power, I am proud of the fact that 'our' wind farms generate around 7200 Watts per Mid North resident, while the average home power consumption per person is only about 260 Watts.

The wind farm development has been a positive all around for my region. The wind farms provide employment, income for all the farmers who host turbines, and the operators of all the MN wind farms provide substantial community development funding.

There is no good reason that this success should not be repeated in many regions around Australia.

I'm sure that you know as well as I do that wind farms harm nobody's health.

Will you do the right thing for Australia and the world, and support renewable energy development – and serious climate change action – in Australia?

Follow South Australia's lead?

The situation at the end of 2016
Clements Gap WF

Something in the air?
A little lighter

There's a pattern forming here. Australia's normally docile marsupials are turning vicious, and even Peter Dutton, federal Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, has become aggressive.

All the events below happened within a couple of months in mid 2016.

I put it down to something in the air, and I reckon that something has to be the increasing carbon dioxide level! It's time to take our emissions seriously Prime Minister Turnbull.

Koala chases girl on quad bike

Wombat attacks woman walking her dogs at Canberra

Kangaroo attacks two women on Riesling Trail, Clare

Peter Dutton lashes out at the ABC and Guardian

Mr Turnbull's last act as PM

The last significant thing that PM Turnbull did was to remove the emissions reduction section from the proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG). The level of emissions reduction in the NEG was already pathetically weak in an attempt to placate the climate change denying right wing. There would have been far more emissions reduction in a business-as-usual situation than would have been mandated in the NEG.

This, unfortunately, typified his entire prime ministership; kowtowing to the right wing in the hope of retaining his position as Prime Minister rather than standing for something ethically worth supporting.


Related pages

On this site

Base load power: the facts
Climate change
Climate change, natural disasters and what we should be doing
The end of coal
Greatest crime in history
Impressive renewable energy developments in Australia
Liddell coal-fired power station; why it should close
Major threatened disasters compared
Mid-North South Australia, leading the nation in renewable energy
Northern SA's renewables
SA's very successful adoption of renewable energy
Wind power in Australia

On the Internet

The Juice Media: Help us Make Government Ads Honest.

ABC 4 Corners, Digging into Adani: The dubious dealings of India's corporate colossus.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction report: The human cost of weather-related disasters 1995-2015.

Renew Economy; AGL ridicules Coalition request to keep Liddell [coal-fired power station] open extra 5 years.

The Conversation; Why coal-fired power stations need to shut on health grounds, David Shearman, 2016/11/28.

AGL's statement on the Liddell closure.

The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition, by David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine.



ACT – 100% renewable power and cheapest electricity in Australia
Australia's greenhouse emissions
Australia comes third last
Backing a dying horse
Bad management, not renewables
Banking royal commission
Banks rule out funding Adani's Galilee Basin coal mine
Brown coal to hydrogen?
China's cancer rates "exploding"; ABC
Climate change and national security
Climate science denier to head environment and energy committee
Coal pollution
Coober Pedy goes from diesel to 50% renewables in a few months
Electricity costs have gone up Australia-wide
Electricity generation, where is it going?
Electric vehicles
Energy poverty
Exporting coal to India
Follow South Australia's lead?
Frydenberg's gaffs
Future of energy
Future of mining is with metals for batteries
Gas supply shortfall predicted
Great Barrier Reef bleaching
Government debt
Grandchildren, his and ours
Greenhouse emissions
His last act
Hornsdale Power Reserve
How many disasters will it take?
How serious will climate change be?
Ideology and idiocy
Increasing damage to the Great Barrier Reef at the same time as trying to reduce the damage
Less run-off due to higher carbon dioxide levels
Leave if you don't like Australia
Letter to PM Turnbull
More 'natural' disasters caused by climate change
Morrison (Treasurer) shown to be ignorant or biased or both
National Energy Guarantee (NEG)
National security and climate change
Off-shore wind turbines
Poll: Government losing the argument
Reopen an old, dirty, uneconomic coal-fired power station?
SA, renewables and electricity costs
SA's storms and power-outage of September 2016
Something in the air
Subsidised new coal-fired power stations?
The man who has done the most?
Warmest years on record
Who is our PM?