Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Securing Australia's Polluting Future
Today, John Howard released the government's energy policy "Securing Australia's Energy Future". Once the detail has been absorbed, the only future that really has been assured is the fossil fuel industry, especially the coal industry. In a move that seems cynical at best and stupid at worst, the government plans to subsidise fossil fuel users - that's right - fossil fuel users. I admit I haven't read the government propaganda but I cannot get my head around this one. In the nearly two decades of environmental debate, I cannot remember hearing how measure would protect the environment.
There's a huge sum of money to allegedly help the coal industry use geo-sequestration to pump carbon-dioxide gas underground and therefore prevent it from entering the atmosphere. While this sounds like a great idea and would allow the continuation of fossil fuel for energy - there is no real plan or incentive for Australian Industry to build a truly renewable energy industry - or even transition to one. The failure of the government to raise the MRET to beyond its paltry present value reveals the true intentions of the government - protect the status-quo, your mates in the industry and get elected by whatever means possible.
A true energy policy would increase the MRET value to as high as possible (say 5-10%) to encourage a renewable energy industry to develop as sustainably as possible. Money for geo-sequestration research should also be matched by real R&D dollars for renewable energy alternatives. The blatant tax subsidies for off-road fuel usage and 'big-petrol trucks' should be stopped and directed towards better policy initiatives. Once again, the party that champions competition and free-enterprise has used it's advantage in government to aid its mates in the fossil fuel industry to help prop up what is ultimately a doomed enterprise. What's worse, it all reads like a cynical re-run of US energy policy as proposed by George W Bush.