The real problem is that electricity produced in Australia from fossil fuel such as coal is subsidised to the tune of an astounding $8.9 billion, so it is far too cheap. If these subsidies were removed, and a carbon tax applied to polluting energy producers, then renewable energy would successfully compete and the free market would steer us in the right direction of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This would also provide strong incentives for Australian manufacturers to produce energy efficient appliances that would be competitive in export markets. Australian appliances are lagging global standards on power consumption because electrical power is so cheap in Australia. Currently, if you want a really energy efficient fridge or dishwasher you have to buy one from a European country such as Germany or Sweden.
With renewable energy on a competitive footing, and demand for electricity greatly reduced through the use of more energy efficient appliances, we would avoid building new coal-fired power stations or going down the non-renewable and dangerous nuclear path favoured by John Howard.
It is time for our politicians to display some real leadership on climate change before we reach the looming crisis point.
Overall, this would be cheaper than funding projects across Australia such as building a barrage across the Port Phillip Bay Heads to stop rising seawater levels flooding Melbourne’s bayside regions.
Some further information:
- Canberra sees the light on energy-saving globes The Age
- Hazelwood is the dirtiest power station in Australia and the most polluting power station in the industrialised world (based on CO2 per megawatt hour sent out)
- Australia is the largest coal exporter in the world, exporting 247.6 million tonnes in 2004, which was more than twice the amount of any other country.
- Research paper on coal subsidies (PDF) which details the scandal of the century.