Old King Coal or More Green Jobs
Origin Energy head says the collapse of the emissions trading scheme and the subsequent lack of a carbon price means that Australia’s next base-load power stations are likely to be coal-fired. Meanwhile, the ACTU and Australian Conservation Foundation say new modelling shows that serious efforts to tackle climate change and cut emissions will create jobs even in areas dominated by the mining and electricity industries.
By Tom Arup, environment correspondent In Sydney Morning Herald (19 May 2010):
BIG CUTS to carbon emissions and heavy investment in green technologies will create 3.7 million jobs across Australia by 2030, economic modelling commissioned for unions and green groups shows.
The ACTU and Australian Conservation Foundation will today launch the modelling project, which has been six months in the works, in an effort to show serious efforts to tackle climate change will create jobs even in areas dominated by the mining and electricity industries.
The modelling breaks Australia into 65 regions and suggests that just one – far-western NSW – will lose jobs if Australia adopts a 25 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020, sets up an emissions trading scheme and makes significant investment in green technologies and energy efficiency.
Other areas across Australia, including those dominated by coal mining and energy industries like Gladstone and Rockhampton in Queensland and the Hunter Valley in NSW, will see job growth in the region.
The report finds that overall jobs will increase by 36 per cent across Australia in 20 years.
”The report shows regional areas, even those which produce coal and generate electricity, will have more jobs if we take strong action to cut pollution, but only if we act now,” ACTU president Sharan Burrow said.
Along with an emissions trading scheme and a 25 per cent emissions cut, the modelling assumes the Australian government will invest directly in targeted regional industry planning, electric cars, public transport and reducing household emissions, among others.
The programs assumed under the modelling would require an investment of on average 2.5 per cent of GDP over the next 20 years. The report finds that if investment is made households will be 10 per cent better off by 2030, and GDP growth would average 3.2 per cent to 2030.
The modelling was conducted by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research. It does not model jobs growth with no climate policies because it says that scenario is unlikely given the global push to decarbonise economies.
The institute’s Ian Manning told the Herald that the modelling also reinforces the position of the International Energy Agency that ”procrastination” on investment in a low-carbon economy will increase costs and hurt job growth.
By Andrew Fraser in The Australian (19 May 2010):
THE head of one of Australia’s leading power companies has argued that the collapse of an emissions trading scheme and the subsequent lack of a carbon price means that Australia’s next baseload power stations are likely to be coal-fired.
Origin Energy chief Grant King told the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association meeting in Brisbane that having a renewable energy target of 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020 “made no sense” without putting a price on carbon.
He said a carbon price of $20-$40 a tonne would be required to start making a gas-fired power station more economically viable than one fired by coal.
“Without a carbon price, coal remains the cheapest fuel for power generation. In the absence of any policy change, we will keep building coal-fired power stations,” he said.
Origin Energy currently operates three gas-fired power stations and is in the process of commissioning a gas-fired baseload power station on Queensland’s Darling Downs capable of producing 630 megawatts.
The company has substantial natural gas reserves and is also involved in gas exploration as well as wind and geothermal projects. It has a part in one of the four consortia planning to build a liquid natural gas plant in Gladstone to convert coal-seam gas for export.
Mr King said yesterday that while wind and solar power could augment Australia’s energy demands they were not reliable providers, and there was still a strong need for baseload power.
He said that increases in household consumption were driving growth of up to 6 per cent a year in demand for baseload power.
“That’s not surprising because we’ve seen increased penetration of air-conditioners and flat-screen TVs,” he said. “Nearly all Australian households have a television, but 10-15 years ago they had one, now they have five, and they’re flat-screen TVs which radiate energy like you wouldn’t believe.”
Mr King said that, until recently, there was bipartisan support for a renewable energy target and a form of carbon pricing.
“Given that bipartisan approach has broken down but there’s still a commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions by 5 per cent to 2020, something else will have to come in its place. I would suggest that both sides of politics need to figure out what that something else is,” he said.
Mr King’s comments were echoed at the conference by Catherine Tanna, Queensland Gas managing director, who said there was uncertainty “in the absence of a long-term global policy for carbon, a policy that allows companies to plan and invest and a policy that does not disadvantage industries that can materially reduce global emissions”.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is due to address the conference this morning, as is Santos chief David Knox, who has put back a decision on whether his company will commit to an LNG plant in Queensland because of uncertainty about the proposed resource super-profit tax.