The vacillations of the Federal Government over Australia’s future are unlikely to change the makeup of future grid; the market has already decided that coal is an uneconomic and risky investment for the generation of electricity.
Global cumulative installed capacity: 2016 Global cumulative installed capacity: 2040
What is of greater concern is that the Government will seek to slow this transformation. This raises two issues, both with economic and social implications. Firstly, delays are likely to increase costs rather than decrease them; this is not new news but has been a constant refrain by those who have looked at the issue. One only has to look at the what happened to the wholesale cost of electricity when the carbon tax was in force (allow for a certain amount of lag) to see the impact removing incentives for clean power. See graph below
Ironically the removal of the Carbon Tax has contributed not only to the increase in wholesale prices due to an increased dependance on gas, but has the slowed investment in renewables that has further exacerbated the situation.
The second issue is clearly outlined in the following graph which highlights the impacts of delaying measures to clean up our power generation to keep within the ‘carbon budget’. The longer the delay the more radical and sudden the change will need to be and thus likely to cause incalculable negative effects and disruption. The alternative – exceeding the carbon budget is highly likely to lead to impacts potentially even more disruptive and costly and most seriously, likely to last much longer. Add to this is the very real risk that ‘positive’ natural feedbacks will amplify and dwarf humanity’s emissions and leave much of the world uninhabitable. In terms of Australia, I am informed by those who should know that it could be one of the places most heavily affected, after all, we already experience extreme and sometimes devastating weather events.
We should not be held captive by a few reactionary ideologues who feel there world view is being threatened. It is one thing to virulently resist social change, quite another to threaten the future of the world our children inherit. I make no apology for using emotive language, because those that are not willing to accept the science and take the issue of climate change seriously are not just being wilfully ignorant but dangerous.