Why not shift to renewable energy?
Thats a question I raised in an earlier post on the Democrats and work-to welfare reform. I asked: Why not have government sponsored research and development into renewable energy to ensure profit-driven, entrepreneurial product innovation?
Well Mark White from pineappletown
has come up with an answer in an email. Its from a newspaper file (No name of newspaper or link) and it says :
17 December 2002
Howard Government Suffocates Renewable Energy -- Cooperative Research Centre
The Howard government has de-funded the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Renewable Energy
and instead given another $68.5 million to the mining industry in today’s announcement of new CRCs.
The closure of the Renewable Energy CRC in June 2003 is a tragedy for Australia, marking the end of specific government support for research into renewable energy, especially solar power including solar panels and solar hot water, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.
“Only ten years ago we led the world in renewable energy research excellence and were poised to develop an exciting new industry.
“The remaining research faculties and renewable energy companies will not survive unless the government turns off the flood of money to its coal industry mates and makes a serious commitment to environmentally sustainable renewable energy.
“In this round of CRC funding, the entire mining and energy allocation, $68.5 million, has gone to the mining industry, and none to renewable energy.
“This is on top of --
· $46 million to fossil fuel CRCs in previous funding rounds
· $35 million to Rio Tinto, for a Sustainable Minerals Industry Foundation, whose work appears to be almost identical to the newly funded CRCs for Sustainable Resource Processing and Greenhouse Gas Technologies (carbon sequestration)
· $77 million to the coal and aluminum industries through the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program.
“As well as getting its own government grant, Rio Tinto is a ‘core participant’ in every one of the four CRCs announced today.
“The government’s Rio Tinto-led energy policy is destroying Australia’s opportunity to switch to solar and get serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions”, said Senator Brown.
Says it all doesn't it? The Howard Government is protecting the fossil energy industry in the global economy, and it is dismantling the few strategies that have been put in place to shift from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy one. This shift had only been treated as a side issue during the 1990s and that we cannot expect across-the-board initiatives encompassing a wide range of policies --energy, environment, employment, taxation, competition, research, technological development and demonstration, agriculture, and regional development policies---in relation to renewable energy. The Howard Government has taken its stand along side the established fossil energy industry---Big Energy----in resisting any shift to a solar economy and ensuring an eclipse of solar energy.
Why? My guess is that it is the global market places pressure on obtaining low fossil fuel prices because this is what the forces of competition dictate. Hence the argument from the fossil fuel industry is that, 'only fossil fuels at globally competitive prices can secure the economic existence of companies and economies.' And, 'Australia has an economic advantage in conventional energy resources whilst renewable energy sources are an expensive burden that can only be borne in small doses'. So we need 'to keep the conventional energy supply structure for reasons of national security'.
And national governments cannot go against the dictates of the free market can they? Nor can they act to undermine the economic security of the nation-state, can they?
These considerations indicate how the Howard Government is trapped in the past.