Climate change/ Energy

It’s time to say No to renewable energy targets

“It’s time to say No to renewable energy targets”, Liberty Works, February 2, 2016:

‘How will you be able to look your grandchildren in the eye and tell them you didn’t do anything about climate change?’ If you’ve engaged in any kind of climate change or energy policy debate, you will have no doubt heard this question asked. The point of course being that the only moral course of action is to reduce our use of fossil fuels drastically by switching to renewable energy post-haste. If you disagree with this outlook you are a ‘denier’, ‘dinosaur’ or a fossil fuel shill. The reality though is that forcing us onto unreliable renewable energy sources before they are viable is expensive, destructive and morally bereft.

Apart from financing climate change initiatives globally, Australia has committed to the RET which aims for 23.5% of our national energy production to be renewable by 2020 and represents a doubling of our current levels of renewable energy production. Bill Shorten’s Labor has announced a policy to up this target to 50% by 2030 without any explanation of how this target will be achieved, how much it will cost or what level of energy security it represents. It has been estimated that in 2016 renewable subsidies, including state schemes, were close to $5 billion dollars with renewables providing only 14% of total energy production. How much would they amount to per year in a 50% renewables market?

If we were somehow able to make the 50% RET by 2030, what will we have achieved? Seeing as Australian CO2 emissions make up only 1.4% of total CO2 emissions globally probably not very much. Even the Garnaut Report concedes that any attempts within Australia to mitigate future global warming will have zero impact. The most that can possibly be achieved from climate action in Australia is that we are acting in solidarity with other developed nations and perhaps leading by example. Seeing as the developing world are exempt from reducing their emissions for another 15 years, then even that influence won’t amount to much more than very costly virtue signalling that has no effect on the temperature.

When faced with this logic people will often say that we should be using switching to renewables now anyway so that we will be prepared for when fossil fuels run out. Fossil fuels are decades away from running out and today’s renewable energy technology will likely bear no resemblance to energy technology at the end of this century. By all means let’s continue to fund energy innovation and as the technology improves and becomes economically viable, including perhaps some form of advanced nuclear technology, we will see people naturally turning to it as an alternative to fossil fuel energy. Unrealistic renewable energy targets that are forced on us now, only result in more expensive and less reliable energy production.

When debating energy policy, it’s helpful to realise that arguments for and against emissions reductions measures like the RET are based on two different moral philosophies. Some have an environment-centric moral framework that prioritizes a pristine environment as the ultimate goal. Within this framework human impact on the environment is seen to be detrimental and must be minimized. Others prioritise human flourishing over a pristine environment. Within this framework, human flourishing and well-being are the goal and in order to achieve this the environment is modified and improved.

Of course human well-being is dependant on a healthy, functioning natural environment so if human well-being is your ultimate goal then well-managed forests and fisheries for example are a priority. The difference though is that this moral framework makes room for modifying the environment to provide us with resources and energy and prioritises prosperity and growth as a means of ensuring that human beings lead long and fulfilling lives. It also recognises that wealthy countries treat the environment better than poorer undeveloped countries and are better equipped to deal with climate catastrophes.

If our moral framework is based on human flourishing, then it’s obvious that policies that reduce energy cost and promote prosperity are of most benefit to humanity. If your moral framework elevates a pristine environment over human flourishing then you will support policies that reduce human impact on the environment by making energy more expensive, increasing poverty and reducing our capability to adapt to and survive climate catastrophes. We owe it to future generations to make the most of our natural resources like coal and gas to produce low cost energy, and quit wasting billions of dollars chasing futile renewable energy targets that drive up energy costs, slow down progress and ultimately slow down the generation of new ideas.

The irony of course is that the poorer we are, the less able we are to protect the environment and less equipped we will be to withstand climate related catastrophes. We will spend more time surviving and less time researching and innovating. If that is your preferred outcome then I hope you are willing to look your grandchildren in the eye when they ask you why you supported policies that reduced their wealth and their ability to withstand and adapt to a changing climate, in the name of patting yourself on the back for ‘doing something’ while achieving no change in the temperature whatsoever.

3 thoughts on “It’s time to say No to renewable energy targets

  1. I don’t understand why anyone would be against moving toward new technology. Even the oil and gas industry is investing in solar along with wind energy. (wind energy as factually not renewable since it uses massive amounts of non-renewable resources compared to solar) Since I live in the oil and gas producer Province Alberta, Canada we are shutting down the last two coal fired plants. The agricultural industry began using solar panels to heat their farms ten years ago. A carbon tax was put in place and gives those on low income a rebate.

    People are finding good long term employment in renewable energy companies. It’s good news for individuals who enjoy the bright side of being an entrepreneur. A good sign for true capitalism where smaller business see a profit. How anyone can insert God into renewable energy must be inclined to see a conspiracy behind every street lamp. Those believe such nonsense have very little knowledge about how nature allows us to live on this planet. Replanting a forest after strip mining it is restoring the lungs of planet Earth.

    The future is here and those wanting to stay in the past will live a miserable life. Do a search for Renewable Energy Investment Opportunities for proof on how capitalism works. Money in the hundreds of billions was invested last year with the number expected to double in 2017. It is a human value to breath fresh air and drink clean water not a religious one. Religion is about believing in something that does not exist. Cleaning up the planet for us and future generations is a reality.

  2. “The irony of course is that the poorer we are, the less able we are to protect the environment and less equipped we will be to withstand climate related catastrophes. We will spend more time surviving and less time researching and innovating.”

    Exactly.

    Why is it that the so-called “Green” people can’t understand the basic reality of doing things green and Organic is that they cost more? Why can’t they see the endemic poverty they otherwise complain about when considering environmental preservation strategies and that most people are poor and can’t afford the expensive green organic stuff? Why can’t they see that taxes increase costs of production which, either drive companies out of business resulting in more unemployed people or result in increased costs of goods placing them further beyond the reach of the poor? Why, after a business or farmer for example has taken steps to mitigate environmental damage are they not applauded and given a financial reward along with their label of Eco stewardship but instead forced to jump through excessive hoops and pay BIG TIME for the labeling and don’t let the door hit you on the way out?

    The answer to these questions is that the environmental movement actually emerged from a latent Christian value to tend God’s Garden of Eden; environmentalism is not a Russian, Chinese or Arab value but a Christian one. The movement however became co-opted by the International Socialists as a vehicle by which, they could turn Western youth against their parents and their systems, principally Capitalism. The principal aim of the now rampaging environmental movement is to destroy the enemy (Capitalism and Western civilization). They don’t actually want success and solutions, they want cultural destruction. They want a Global ruling system held together by the religion of eco-armageddon. They want to hold people ransom with the narrative of imminent doom unless we submit to their “Green” (red) agenda (Agenda 21). They also want to re-enforce the emotional hold by which, they manipulate so many young people and that is the levers of fear, guilt and shame. If they can continue to induce these feelings they can exploit them for political reasons. So after all that hard work, expense and sacrifice toward the cause of environmental resuscitation they want you to walk away feeling yet more fear, guilt and shame so you come back and give all you have next week. It is a truly feudal approach.

    We should also note that these people hate money and loathe, irrationally, Capitalism (despite the fact that everything in the world has a capital value and all governments use money and that they have done very well most of them by it). They refuse to consider the idea of financial sustainability as they scream for Eco-sustainability, and have no interest in reconciling these two concepts.

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