a place to rant about energy, environment and all things John Howard

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I used to like Peter Beattie

Until I saw this performance on Lateline last night.
TONY JONES: Do you believe global warming could create more extreme cyclones off the Queensland coast?

PETER BEATTIE: Yes, I do. And in fact, that's one of the reasons why yesterday in Innisfail, I announced a series of programs that over the next 10-20 years, in the area between Cooktown and Bundaberg
Good so far.
I think a lot of people in Australia don't understand what global warming is doing. It's changing our weather patterns dramatically and you look at the drought that we've got in the south-east corner. It is now the worst drought on record. The worst drought on record. And that's because we are getting significant changes in weather patterns. We're getting less rain in the south-east corner, but we're going to get it in a more violent way. There are parts of Western Australia, for example, that are getting rain levels they've never had before. Spinifex, in fact, is dying in some places. So the whole pattern of weather is changing and with that comes all sorts of risks - not just rising sea levels, but clearly, more violent storms and more violent cyclones.
Even better. My God, I think he's got it!

So, what are you gonna do about it Peter?
TONY JONES: At a broader level ... you've recently rejected the proposition for a state-based carbon trading scheme aimed at reducing Australia's carbon emissions to - by 60% by the middle of this century. Isn't that the sort of initiative aimed at targeting the very global warming that's causing the problems that are making Queensland vulnerable?

PETER BEATTIE: Well Tony, let me say that Queensland has contributed more than any other State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because we're stopping tree clearing. I mean, the only reason we're anywhere near our Kyoto target thanks to what the Queensland Government did in stopping tree clearing. So let's be clear about that at the front. We've good credentials when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
True. But stopping tree clearing is hardly the kind of tough policy that's required to reduce CO2 emissions in any significant way.
Second thing is, I'm not opposed to carbon trading - I'm opposed to doing it in a way that excludes technological evolution in areas like clean coal technology.
Uh oh, Pete's off with the fairies now.
Now I know you had someone on the program last night arguing against this - I don't accept that. I think that clean coal technology can not only reduce our emissions, but what it can do is develop a technology that can be exported to China.
Earth to Pete. Geosequestration, CCS, 'clean coal' (whatever you want to call it) doesn't exist and will never exist. Its a figment of the coal industry's imagination. Whatever way you look at it we are not going to be able to hide a cubic kilometre of CO2 in the earth's crust every day, and that's just Australia. You think nuclear waste is scary? Imagine vast seas of liquefied CO2 under foot that have to be monitored forever, because if it escapes it will suffocate everything in the vicinity. By comparison, the amounts of nuclear waste produced are tiny, it stays put, and does eventually become less toxic.

Anyway, back to Pete:
You see, Tony, the issue for us is our greenhouse gas emissions are about 1.5% of the world - which is chicken feed. If we stopped all our greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow, it would have bugger all effect on greenhouse emissions and global warming.
Ahhh ... the tried and tested "we're small so we don't have to do anything" argument. John Howard couldn't have said it better himself.

Lets extend this to every citizen of the planet shall we? "If I switch off a few lights it won't make any difference so why should I bother?" Apply same logic to six billion people and we're screwed.
But China's got 15.6% of greenhouse gases and rising. You're seeing the same thin g with the development of India. So what we need to do is to develop technology which can be exported to emerging countries like China, with huge energy demands, to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and out of that we have a cleaner planet.
Pete, the Chinese can't burn the coal if you don't sell it to them.
Now that's what we are doing. We're investing almost a billion dollars in partnership with industry and hopefully the Federal Government in developing clean coal technology which can, in the research we are doing, split off CO2. Yes, it goes into rocks but then you've got hydrogen, which can generate power
Huh? How's that work Pete? You put the CO2 in the rocks and you make hydrogen?! Give this man a Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He's almost as brilliant as Wilson!
TONY JONES: Peter Beattie, there is obviously a complete debate on whether that clean coal technology will work or not, but we don't have time for that, now, we've got to move on.

PETER BEATTIE: Can I just say, Tony, just before we go on this, can I just quickly make this point. The technology will work, the issue is whether it becomes a financial proposition to make it work. That's the test. The technology and we've got the technology being developed now with Shell, we believe the technology works. It's to make it a financial proposition, that's the issue.
Sorry Pete, that's not the issue. The technology is unproven. At best they might get something working by 2020 when it will be too late anyway. Why are you betting our future on this nonsense when we have proven technologies such as wind, solar and (dare I say it) nuclear, all of which are vastly more prudent choices that 'clean coal'.


Anonymous Grant said...

Of course the biggest irony with that last statement:
"The technology will work, the issue is whether it becomes a financial proposition to make it work. That's the test. The technology and we've got the technology being developed now with Shell, we believe the technology works. It's to make it a financial proposition, that's the issue."

What is a carbon tax/emissions trading scheme but a market mechanism you can use to "make it a financial proposition"? So the internal logic, if you believe clean coal will work, is still flawed...

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