Peter Khalil asks about tech fairy dust in Net Zero Plan

October 27, 2021 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

Peter Khalil, MP for Wills, was part of the Labor questioning of the Prime Minister in Question time in the House of Representatives today. It follows Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s launch of a Net zero by 2050 Plan, that was widely criticised (including by Climate Action Moreland many climate advocacy organisations) (See Blog: Morrison Net Zero 2050 Plan a fraud, with plans to double coal exports, new gas expansion)

It is clear the Government’s plan relies on substantial fairy dust to get to Net Zero by 2050. It is also highly reliant on the problematic Technology Investment Roadmap which places much emphasis and hope on developing at commercial scale a substantial Carbon Capture and Storage industry to process Blue Hydrogen (to market as clean hydrogen) from fossil gas and coal. Carbon Capture and storage is expensive’ and energy intensive without guaranteeing 100 per cent sequestration. There is only one operating commercial plant using CCS technology globally. Australia has already poured over $4 billion into Carbon Capture and Storage with little technology to show for it.

The 20 percent of emission reduction that has already ocurred has mostly come from the land sector and agriculture in the reduction of clearing – the so called Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) emissions. Even these emissions reduction have been called into question by the measurements of forests utilised. Also one in five carbon credits issued by the Federal Government’s $4.5 billion Emission Reduction Fund (ERF) do not represent real abatement and are essentially ‘junk’ credits, according to new research by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australia Institute.

40 per cent is from the Technology Investment Roadmap which prioritises Carbon Capture and Storage (See Honest Gov Ad) and Blue Hydrogen. Another way of keeping support to fossil gas and coal. This is all very much unicorn technology that has not been proved at scale to be effective, inexpensive or efficient.

Blue Hydrogen and CCS also distracts from Renewables based Green Hydrogen. Andrew Forrest Fortescue Future Industries has already committed early October 2021 to manufacturing renewables based hydrogen electrolysers at Gladstone. The plans are to double capacity of renewable electrolysers, starting production in 2023.

The Technology Investment Roadmap has development of offshore windfarms as a low priority, yet this is a mature technology, a high electricity capacity, substantial unionised jobs, that can be rolled out within a few years, relatively close to high population density areas around Australia’s coast. Angus Taylor has continued to delay passage of the Offshore windfarm bill, and it is only now that a bill for establishing the regulatory environment for offshore wind and energy export is going through parliament.

10 to 20 per cent of the Government Plan is devoted to international and domestic offsets. This is where you pay someone else to reduce emissions on your behalf. The problem with this is transparency, additionality and double counting. There are so many offset credits that are really just hot air that have not actually reduced global emissions. Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) generated by the ‘avoided deforestation’ method of carbon abatement as highlighted in research by the Australian Conservation Foundation is just one case in point.

Up to 15 per cent of the Net Zero Plan is allocated to technology breakthroughs. Fairy dust. No plan at all for this.

Of course there has been substantial modelling already done for reaching Net Zero by 2050 for Australia. ClimateWorks Australia, associated with Monash University, has developed the Decarbonisation Futures: Solutions, actions and benchmarks for a net zero emissions Australia (April 2020), and has continued to refine decarbonisation pathways for diferent sectors including: energy sector (April 2021), transport (June 2020), Corporate action (October 2021), Natural Capital Investment (August 2021), and others.

The Government could also look to the Business Council of Australia recent report advocating interim emissions for 2030 of 46-50% emissions reduction. The Accenture report that was released a few days later also highlighted early mover advantages for the economy, and particularly regional areas. (See Blog – Business, Unions, Environment Organisations outline Australian clean energy transition vital for jobs and new export revenues)

The Accenture report was commissioned jointly by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), WWF-Australia, ACTU and BCA was released – Sunshot: Australia’s opportunity to create 395,000 clean export jobs, charting a path for the country through the global transition to net-zero that delivers new jobs and replaces high carbon exports with clean export revenue.

These reports make it clear there are tremendous advantages in moving early with rapid ramp up of renewables, hydrogen, green steel, rare earth minerals, and services and training in the new energy economy. Thousands of jobs would be created, the great majority in regional areas allowing a transition of existing workforces with retraining in related or new skills. The benefits would flow to regional areas and the whole economy. The BCA report is a little too uncritical of blue hydrogen and CCS, in my estimation.

Over the next 50 years, modelling by Deloitte Access Economics estimates that the economic dividend from a smooth transition to net zero emissions by 2050 — aligned to our proposed strategy — is estimated to be a $890 billion increase to GDP (net present value) due to higher productivity levels and over 195,000 additional jobs by 2070.

Business Council of Australia report

On the other hand, carbon border taxes (CBAMs) could cost Australia $4.5 billion per year and 70,000 jobs in NSW and Queensland for faily to move early.

Australia failing on three key counts for COP26 negotiations

Australia is failing on at least 3 key counts for the UN climate conference negotiations, important for being considered seriously at the climate negotiations:

  • Australia not taking a more ambitious 2030 climate target. We have failed on that criteria.
  • Australia not increasing climate finance (presently estimated at 8% of our fair share) by at minimum doubling climate finance to $3 billion for 2020-2025 as recommended by Civil Society organisations like Oxfam, Action Aid and others.
  • Australia’s silence on signing on to the Global Methane Pledge of cutting 30% methane emissions by 2030 on 2020 baseline. Even Saudi Arabia, another arch high emissions polluter, has signed on to this.

So, Thank you Peter for raising the question in question time, in challenging the Prime Minister on his scam plan for COP26…. Now about Labor’s gas expansion policy. We will just have to leave that for another time.

Transcript (Proof)

Mr KHALIL (Wills) (14:47): My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that nearly a third of the emissions reductions he hopes to claim for his policy of net zero by 2050 come from technological innovations that don’t exist yet and global technology trends which are out of Australia’s control?

Mr MORRISON (Cook—Prime Minister) (14:48): I can confirm that 15 per cent of the emissions reductions that come as a result of the government’s plan will be from global technology trends. I confirm that it includes 20 per cent reductions that have already occurred. Our policies have already seen a 20 per cent reduction in emissions, which is greater than the United States, the OECD average, Japan, Canada and New Zealand. Australia’s actions and outcomes on reducing emissions speak far louder than the claims and the words of others. I can confirm that 40 per cent of those reductions come from the Technology Investment Roadmap technologies, which go to clean hydrogen and getting that under $2 a kilo; ultralow-cost solar, at under $15 per megawatt hour; getting energy storage under $100 per megawatt hour; getting low-emission steel and aluminium steel production under $700 per ton and aluminium under $2,200 per tonne; and getting carbon capture and storage, something opposed by the Labor Party, down to under $20 per tonne of CO2.

Mr Albanese interjecting—

Mr MORRISON: The Leader of the Opposition interjects. He says it’s not true. Well, if that’s not true, why is the Labor Party voting against it in the Senate?

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order?

Mr Burke: Yes, on direct relevance—

Mr Albanese: You abolished the fund.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition!

Mr Albanese interjecting—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition, I’m trying to hear the Manager of Opposition Business.

Mr Burke: On direct relevance—the question goes to two parts of that document. He’s not referring to either of them at the moment. It goes to the global technology trends part of it and the technological innovations that don’t exist yet. He’s now going to other sections, and that’s where he’s been spending most of his answer.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister’s been referring to a number of things in the answer. The question asked him to confirm those two things. So, in the time available, I’m just going to ask the Prime Minister to come back to the question.

Mr MORRISON: I was outlining the entire emissions reduction, which those other two factors sit within the context of. I said 40 per cent is on those technologies we’re already funding and supporting through the lower emissions technology road map. There is 10 to 20 per cent on international and domestic offsets, and there is up to 15 per cent on further technology breakthroughs. And I say to the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party, what have they got against technology? Why do they not have confidence that, in the next 30 years, in the world today, we will not see technology breakthroughs which will ensure that we’ll be able to close the gap? If that’s the case, they should never use one of these, because they don’t believe they exist! An iPhone would never have existed if it was based on the assumptions of the Leader of the Opposition. He wouldn’t have thought any of these things would happen. We wouldn’t have had a COVID vaccine because it hadn’t been developed two years ago, not even one year ago—or not much more than one year ago.

So, yes, it’s true. I have more confidence in technological innovation and science than I do in taxes and regulations put on the Australian people by the Labor Party.


Commentary from Peter Khalil on the Net zero Plan:

What was all the fuss about? All this infighting for what amounts to a ZERO plan.

Entry filed under: climate change info, Coalition Climate Policies, news, Policy, renewable energy. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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