Turnbull proves to us that he still can’t see what everyone else does

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has written an opinion piece in The Guardian and proved beyond all doubt the reasons why he no longer holds the privileged post and how blind the Liberal Party faction that supported him managed to bury their judgment.

Turnbull’s first few paragraphs flush this out. He opined,

Have we now reached the point where at last our response to global warming will be driven by engineering and economics rather than ideology and idiocy?

Ideology? Surely you jest, sir? Do climate skeptics push 17yo pig-tailed truants to peddle their warming religion? Did 31,000 climate skeptics,who question the governance behind the science, fly into COP25 to tell the rest us all how to behave?

Idiocy? One just needs to examine the utter hypocrisy of the climate protestors who can often be seen gorging on fast food made by evil corporations that reinvented single use packaging. Easier still, just follow Hollywood stars who think they can offset their enormous carbon footprints via regular use of private jets, stretched limos and lavish dozen room mansions by eating vegan and sacrificing fashion choice to one tuxedo for a season of gala dinners.

Let us start with the optics before the content.

Turnbull will go down in history as one of the only conservative party politicians to avoid conservative media outlets like the plague. If he looked in the mirror, how far off the Liberal reservation must he have been to have to limit himself to the left-leaning mainstream media even when he was PM?

To choose the climate alarmist Guardian as his platform speaks volumes. Where else would he find an audience that would would be so soft and stroke his ego?

The content of his op ed wasted little time heaping lashings of self-praise on his own record at the top, which frankly is not much to write home about.

We need to plan this carefully – we have to keep energy affordable and reliable as we make the transition. My government’s policy for a national energy guarantee (Neg) integrated emissions reduction and reliability, and would have enabled us to continue to make the switch to renewables without compromising the reliability of the electricity network…if ever there was a crisis not to waste, it is this one. Morrison has the chance now to reinstate the Neg with higher targets. Both he and Josh Frydenberg were among its strongest supporters when I was PM. They abandoned it in the lead-up to an election, to pacify the right wing of the Coalition that sabotaged it in the first place.”

Mr Turnbull, we are a bit curious. How was it Morrison managed to win the election by backing coal in the lead up? Pacifying the right wing or realizing that the real base of the party would never have backed you in 2019 still favour economic wellbeing to virtue signalling? The answer is obvious.

The thought of all these new green jobs. We think you ought to check the ABS for the latest statistics on those wonderful employment opportunities that just don’t exist in green jobs. Turnbull wrote,

The children in Muswellbrook and Singleton will not have to breathe in coal dust and sulphur dioxide from the mines and power stations, and their parents will have jobs in industries that thrive with cheap, green power…We can demonstrate that abundant zero emission energy will create thousands of new jobs that will vastly exceed those lost as coal burning comes to an end.

Annual direct FTE employment in renewable energy activities in Australia was estimated at 17,740 jobs in 2017-18 according to the ABS, a number below that of 2011-12.

Mining, according to the latest ABS stats, employs around 220,000. Electricity, gas and water approximately 131,000.

If we examine Turnbull’s “priority this decade should be our own green new deal in which we generate, as soon as possible, all of our electricity from zero emission sources. If we do, Australia will become a leader in the fight against global warming. And we can do it...” comment one assumes that we don’t have any coal fired generation.

Does Turnbull honestly believe the same amount of power generation could occur if “the degraded landscape of old mines could be covered with solar panels”? And at lower cost?

This is the trend of Australian energy price inflation and manufacturing jobs over the last two decades. Notice anything? A correlation of about 90%. Energy prices go up, manufacturing comes down. We have shed 250,000 manufacturing jobs in the last two decades. 

Germany gives us a wonderful case study on how a renewables based energy system has backfired spectacularly.

In 2007, Germany forecasted that 2020 residential electricity prices would be approximately 16 Eurocents with the shift to renewables away from nuclear. Today they trade at c.31 Eurocents. Der Spiegel, a normally left-leaning journal wrote in a two-part series. 

Part 1 – Germany Failure on the Road to a Renewable Future

“But the sweeping idea has become bogged down in the details of German reality. The so-called Energiewende, the shift away from nuclear in favour of renewables, the greatest political project undertaken here since Germany’s reunification, is facing failure. In the eight years since Fukushima, none of Germany’s leaders in Berlin have fully thrown themselves into the project, not least the chancellor. Lawmakers have introduced laws, decrees and guidelines, but there is nobody to coordinate the Energiewende, much less speed it up. And all of them are terrified of resistance from the voters, whenever a wind turbine needs to be erected or a new high-voltage transmission line needs to be laid out.”

Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors is even more forthright about the failures. The shift to renewables, the federal auditors say, has cost at least 160 billion euros in the last five years. Meanwhile, the expenditures “are in extreme disproportion to the results, Federal Court of Auditors President Kay Scheller said last fall, although his assessment went largely unheard in the political arena. Scheller is even concerned that voters could soon lose all faith in the government because of this massive failure.

There is also such an irony when these mad green schemes encounter scourge from animal rights groups. Former Green’s leader Bob Brown knows the feeling,

“The bird of prey [red kite], with its elegantly forked tail, enjoys strict protection in Germany…Red kites are migratory, returning from the south in the spring, but they don’t return reliably every year. The mayor would have been happy if the bird had shown up quickly so its flight patterns could be analyzed and plans for the wind park adjusted accordingly. It would have been expensive, but at least construction of the project could finally get underway.

But if the bird doesn’t return, the project must be suspended. Spies has to wait a minimum of five years to see if the creature has plans for the nest after all. Which means the wind park could finally be built in 2024, fully 12 years after the project got underway.”

Part 2 – German Failure on the Road to a Renewable Future

An additional factor exacerbating the renewables crisis is the fact that two decades after the enactment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), 20-year guaranteed feed-in tariffs will begin expiring next year for the first wind, solar and biomass facilities. Some of those who installed solar panels back then — often farmers and homeowners — are still receiving 50 cents for every kilowatt-hour they feed into the grid. Today, larger facilities receive just 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The state has redistributed gigantic sums of money, with the EEG directing more than 25 billion euros each year to the operators of renewable energy facilities. But without the subsidies, operating wind turbines and solar parks will hardly be worth it anymore. As is so often the case with such subsidies: They trigger an artificial boom that burns fast and leaves nothing but scorched earth in their wake.

That doesn’t include the 360,000 German households in energy poverty. That is those people who can’t afford their electricity bills and have power to their homes cut off. Australia already has 42,000 in energy poverty,

Our electricity prices are among the highest in the world but Mr Turnbull believes he has the solution by getting rid of reliable coal-fired baseload in favour of solar panels, wind farms and battery storage, all heavily reliant on the very fossil fuels he wants to be terminated.

Yet Mr Turnbull believes that we can ditch coal because it is going out of fashion.

But above all we have to face this fact; coal is on the way out. It is, as we are seeing today, a matter of life and death. Whether we like it or not, demand for our export coal is going to decline and expire.

The world must, and I believe will, stop burning coal if we are to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. And the sooner the better. The good news is that thanks to technology we can have abundant energy which is both green and cheap.

Is it on the way out? Is that why China has 300-500 new coal-fired power plants in the works with a further 17 coal mines to be opened? Is that why India is keen to build out Adani? Even Germany is backtracking on coal fired power plant closures because it knows its grid can’t cope without it.

He closed with,

But the lies of the deniers have to be rejected. This is a time for truth telling, not obfuscation and gaslighting. Climate change is real…our response must be real too – a resilient, competitive, net zero emission economy – as we work to make our nation, and our planet, safe for our children and grandchildren.

He even suggests a world where we’re all driving EVs. While we aren’t sure whether Mr Turnbull owns a Tesla himself, he should know that the energy that goes to make the batteries is equivalent to the car doing 150,000km of CO2-e emissions before it leaves the showroom floor. Don’t forget the stress on the grid to charge all these cars. Who needs the reality of EV infrastructure rollouts across the Nullarbor which are powered by diesel gen sets? Mr Turnbull, any ideas? Run a cable from Snowy 2.0?

It is sad to see a former leader still feel he has a voice on a subject matter his party rejected based on economics. We already spend a fortune on green energy. We are pulling our weight as a Top 3 per capita nation on energy spend. In real terms we spent 2x more than France in 2019. We can only hope PM Morrison doesn’t fold from the poor media advice during the bushfires and see Turnbull’s endorsement as a sign to do the exact opposite.

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