The Great Coal Hoax by Alan Kohler #StopAdani 

The great coal hoax

ALAN KOHLER

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In a way, the Coalition’s final transformation into fervently pro-coal evangelists is the predictable destination of the journey they have been on since 2009, when they sacked the then pro-emissions-trading Malcolm Turnbull in favour of the zealot Tony Abbott.

Even so, last week’s performance by the Treasurer of the nation, Scott Morrison, waving a piece of coal around in Parliament and ranting that since coal has been the past source of Australia’s advantage, it must be in future, and anyone who disagreed with that madness was “coalophobic”, was pretty disheartening.


The development presents a difficult but important challenge for Australia’s corporate leaders, but if they respond to it properly, last week’s episode could be a turning point for energy policy.

They know, and one suspects that Morrison and Turnbull know too — we all know, really — that the only reason coal is “cheap” is that the cost of dealing with the carbon dioxide that comes from burning it is not included in the price.


That’s demonstrated by the likely prohibitive cost of so-called “clean coal”, whatever that might mean, which is the latest apparition that the Coalition Government has fallen in love with.

Coal is by far the most expensive fuel for generating electricity, full stop — if the cost of dealing with climate change is taken into account.

Scientists have clearly detailed what those costs are, so they can’t be ignored.

 Emissions trading is merely a way to use market forces to price energy according to the true cost of the fuel used to generate it.

Now that we know the true cost, failing to price coal properly — continuing to pretend it’s cheap — would be like a restaurant pricing its menu to recover only the cost of the food, without accounting for overheads and wages — a short trip to bankruptcy.

In fact the price of solar energy is now falling so rapidly it won’t be long before even the unadjusted price of coal is higher than solar.
At about the same time as Scott Morrison was waving his ridiculous piece of coal about last week, the result of India’s first major solar auction for 2017 was announced, with record low prices.

 It’s part of India’s National Electricity Plan, released in December, which calls for a five-fold increase in renewable energy and a reduction in thermal power from 66 to 43 per cent of total capacity.

The Coalition, meanwhile, is clinging to the idea that we need to build more coal mines in Australia to supply India’s supposed voracious appetite for thermal power.


As one of the sunniest places on earth, Australia should be a world leader in solar, bidding to supply India with the latest renewable technology. Instead our politicians have been locked in a battle over a delusion for nearly a decade: that coal is cheap and renewable energy is expensive.

It’s true that wind and solar are intermittent, since the wind doesn’t blow all the time and the sun doesn’t shine all the time. But instead of helping the states to deal with this problem sensibly, Coalition politicians including the Federal Minister for Energy Josh Frydenberg, are just trying to score points and embed the hoax.

It raises a broader issue: why is politics the only part of society doing this?

The academic, scientific, corporate, not-for-profit sectors have long ago accepted that the problem is real and are working towards a more sustainable future; the only ones not showing leadership are the nation’s leaders.

Most corporate websites contain a statement about the need for sustainable energy policies, and how that company is doing its bit. 

Australia’s corporate sector has pretty much entirely joined the academic and scientific community in pushing for carbon emissions abatement.

The Business Council of Australia has been pleading for years for what it calls “a stable and predictable environment for investment and business activity”. Two months ago the BCA issued an urgent call for reform “to avert systemic crises”.

Those crises have now arrived in the form of blackouts, and they are not caused by too much renewable energy. 

As the BCA makes clear, it’s due to a lack of investment, in turn due to a lack of policy certainty and clarity.

This is entirely the Liberal Party’s fault — not just Malcolm Turnbull’s, although he is a rather pathetic figure now. 

If he didn’t go along with the hoax, he’d be sacked and another PM would.


By taking the low road in 2009 instead of the high road, and deciding to mislead Australians about the true cost of energy, the Liberal Party condemned the country to a decade of confusion and stasis on energy policy.

That reached a nadir of absurdity last week with the Treasurer’s coal stunt.

The rest of Australia’s leaders, in particular the CEOs of our largest companies, should declare now that enough is enough, and pull these idiots into line.

By taking the low road in 2009 instead of the high road, and deciding to mislead Australians about the true cost of energy, the Liberal Party condemned the country to a decade of confusion and stasis on energy policy.

That reached a nadir of absurdity last week with the Treasurer’s coal stunt.

The rest of Australia’s leaders, in particular the CEOs of our largest companies, should declare now that enough is enough, and pull these idiots into line. ”

How much coal money have the libs received to carry out this traitorous activity?

Press link for more: Hot Copper.com

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