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The Queensland election's 'renewables versus coal' debate isn't about jobs. It's a culture war

TJ Ryan Foundation Board member, John Quiggin, comments in The Guardian (22.11.17) on opposition to renewables, suggesting that it's a case of 'since environmentalists support renewable energy, conservatives must oppose it'. But, the author believes, they are only delaying the inevitable.

'Of the issues in the Queensland election campaign, proposals for new investment in electricity generation stand out among the sharpest division. Labor and the Greens want more renewables, while the Liberal National Party and One Nation are pushing for a new coal-fired power station.

'The disputes are not over the desirability of public ownership (both sides support it). Nor are they, in any serious sense, about electricity prices (no one can reduce them by much). They aren’t even about jobs, or rather, they are more about what kinds of jobs we want to create than about the number that will be created.

'Paradoxically, the closest parallel to the current debate is not over energy or economics it all. Rather it is the bitter culture war over equal marriage. Faced with a trend which has swept almost the entire developed world and seems certain to prevail everywhere in time, the supporters of coal are seeking to delay the inevitable. As part of the global push to reduce CO2 emissions, investment in renewable solar and wind power has soared, while coal-fired power is disappearing from most countries in the developed world.

'The choice between wind turbines and steam turbines might seem to be purely one of technology. But since environmentalists support renewable energy, the demands of the culture war require that conservatives must oppose it.'

LNP, One Nation would force Queensland energy prices up; Greens, ALP down

Giles Parkinson writes on the 'Pearls & Irritations' blog (22.11.17) about new analysis of the energy policies presented by the major and smaller parties contesting the Queensland election, showing that the Greens would deliver the biggest electricity savings, Labor would also push prices down, while One Nation and the LNP policies would force prices to rise.

'Energy has emerged as one of the key factors in the Queensland poll, which is proving impossible to predict because of the rise of One Nation, and the potential of both the Katter Party and The Greens to grab some seats.

'The energy war is being fought on two levels: the LNP and One Nation are pushing for coal, and a new coal-fired generators, while the ALP and the Greens are focused on clean energy, and targets of at least 50 per cent renewables by 2030.

'Policies are also being marked by potential write-downs of network assets, rebates, the creation of a third government generator, and the transformation of for profit utilities to non-profit institutions. Think electricity as a public service.

'The analysis by Queensland-based energy expert Hugh Grant concludes that there would be a wide range of price impacts arising from the various policies, ranging from a price reduction of around $600 a year from the Queensland Greens’ policies, to a price increase of around $30 from the LNP’s policies.

'Grant says there are a number of factors driving the differing price impacts, but the key outcomes are the treatment of carbon and renewable policies, and how much profit from the government-owned energy companies the parties are willing to forego.'

The full report can be found here.

 

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