With Australia’s political Climate Wars dragging on into a second decade, one has to wonder at what point pessimism set in for the French and English forces during the Hundred Years’ War, because the continual skirmishes over climate and energy policy show few signs of easing.
Back in June, the Senate blocked Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s attempt to illegally expand the mandate of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to fund non-renewable projects after Labor, the Greens, and the cross-bench combined to shut the move down. Last week, Taylor unequivocally demonstrated that he doesn’t understand the word ‘no’, and certainly not an unequivocal ‘no’.
Last Friday, the Morrison government made a renewed attempt at shifting the remit of ARENA to include fossil-fuel related technologies including carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen generated by fossil-fuels.
“From today,” said Taylor in a statement, “new regulations take effect that broaden ARENA’s mandate to enable the agency to play an important role in stimulating investment that will help achieve the Technology Investment Roadmap stretch goals as well as energy efficiency measures.”
In the statement, Taylor continued to roll out his “technology not taxes” false-dichotomy and insisted that the only way to reduce emissions without Australian households bearing the load is to prop up fossil fuels with funding for renewables, even though renewables like solar are already cheaper.
In an interview with 2GB radio last week, Taylor, who has clearly never read to the end of Hamlet or learned his government’s lesson about the consequences of indecision when it comes to Covid-19 vaccinations, said “You know, ruling things out is the wrong thing to do in the energy debate or any of these sorts of debates. As soon as you start ruling things out, you make life harder for everybody.”
We have again and again defeated Angus Taylor’s attempts to axe or gut the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and we’ll do it again if we need to.
And if Angus Taylor wants to take this appalling idea to an election, we’ll happily campaign to save renewables. https://t.co/JlAN6SDVxo
— SmartEnergyCouncil (@SmartEnergyCncl) July 29, 2021
Parliament is set to sit today, and according to 7 News Labor is going to put forward another disallowance motion. This time however, the ‘no’ is not going to be as unequivocal as last time, with the motion set to be focus specifically on CCS and fossil fuel generated hydrogen, rather than the entire expansion.
Labor climate spokesman Chris Bowen once again came out in opposition against the latest attempt to gut ARENA, saying the government’s regulations were contrary to the entire project of ARENA, to “improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies and increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia.”
“Experts say that funding other technologies would be inconsistent with the object of the Act, and would likely be subject to legal challenge.
Greens leader Adam Bandt wants nothing short of a full dismissal of the re-proposed regulations, saying “Angus Taylor’s crusade to spend more public dollars on coal and gas is as shambolic as it is reckless.”
Last time the Senate was able to block Taylor’s egregious motion because One Nation leader Pauline Hanson failed to show up for the vote. It is not clear whether Australia will be so lucky today.
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