Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale has said that coal has lost the energy war and questioned why its backers are still trying to fight for a lost cause.
Speaking at the Clean Energy Summit in Sydney on Tuesday, Mr Di Natale said: “There is no future in coal and we have destroyed our gas industry through greed, leading to a situation where international customers pay less of Australian gas than we do.”
He likened the coal lobby to an Imperial Japanese soldier who continued to fight 29 years after World War II had ended.
“Hiroo Onoda was given instructions not to surrender when he was deployed on an island in the Philippines. True to his commitment, he fought for 29 years after that war had already ended,” said Mr Di Natale.
“No one had told Mr Onoda that his people had lost the war so he camped out in the forest making sporadic, but consistent attacks until 1975. He never had a chance of winning. But he kept fighting and fighting and fighting. Sound familiar?”
Dirty coal cannot compete with green energy generation
Mr Di Natale said: “For the last five years, this conference has held sessions and seminars making it abundantly clear that traditional, dirty energy sources cannot out-compete the trajectory of clean energy technologies.”
He said that through these last five years we have been able to observe a political science experiment. “What happens when the unstoppable force of clean energy collides with the immovable object of the Abbott-Turnbull governments? Now we know the answer. The unstoppable force wins.”
He said that since 2013, the world has built more clean energy than traditional, dirty power sources. “Clean energy and storage has become cheaper by the day, it actually delivers jobs and investment – overwhelmingly to regional areas.”
Meanwhile, the immovable object of the Liberal Party has chained itself to carbon capture and storage fantasies and super-critical coal plants, he said.
Mr Di Natale said: “We have sunshine, wind, massive open spaces and incredible researchers and entrepreneurs’ setting their minds to seize the economic opportunities that rapid decarbonisation offers. But we are not seizing this future that belongs to us because of the sedimentary layers of uncertainty that your industry is trying to work on.”
Industry needs certainty, coal can’t deliver and neither can the Liberals
Mr Di Natale said industry needs policy certainty to flourish, adding that the Greens have always been committed to securing that certainty.
“If what the CET proposal is twisted to and gives absolutely no certainty to our climate and our country’s pollution profile continues to expand and create runaway global warming and a cooked planet, then there is actually no certainty for any industry, anywhere at all.”
“All it takes is for one of Tony Abbott’s junior protégés to become energy minister over the next 15 years and they can throw the industry into turmoil again by causing a review, use some aggressive language and then investments will cease again and your industry will be clamouring for resolution again,” he said.
This is a tried and tested re-usable political strategy for these dinosaurs and they won’t be afraid to repeat its use. A clean energy target is very vulnerable to future political uncertainty.
Preserving coal drives up power prices
Mr Di Natale said the “deceitful debate” around clean energy driving up power prices has been completely unhinged from facts. Queensland, Victoria and NSW have seen the largest increases in power bills over the last decade despite having the smallest increase in clean energy generation over the same period.
“The rise in electricity bills has overwhelmingly been created from policy uncertainty and networks gaming a rigged system. Our electricity market was built in the heyday of 1990s competition policy zeal. Our energy market is not geared to encouraging smarter energy use or reducing pollution – the two keys to our country’s future,” he said.
He said the energy market rules have stood still while technology has completely transformed around it.
“We want to see our energy system modernised so that those brilliant Australian firms developing cutting edge technologies that we can export to the world are fostered and encouraged, not marginalised and developed overseas instead,” said Mr Di Natale.
You can read Mr Di Natale’s full speech on Renew Economy
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