Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

White Washing Energy Policy

By Ian Lowe

The draft energy white paper would have looked out of date 25 years ago, when we already knew about the problems of “peak oil” and climate change.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

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The draft energy white paper was released quietly in the pre-Christmas silly season by Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson. He was right to try to play it down. It suggests that energy policy is still being written by the so-called “greenhouse mafia” documented by Guy Pearce in his book High and Dry.

The paper sets goals for Australia to be the world’s number one coal exporter, the world’s number one gas exporter, and to crack the global top three sellers of uranium. We already contribute massively to climate change by our coal exports, but the government wants to sell even more.

The white paper goes back on the ALP’s election commitment to apply pollution standards to new power stations, advancing the ridiculous argument that the $23/tonne charge on CO2 released is enough to drive clean generation.

Faced with the trade-off between short-term economic goals and long-term issues that affect every Australian, our politicians continue to subsidise fossil fuels. In his speech announcing the draft paper, Ferguson effectively dismissed renewable energy as a viable means of providing cheap, clean electricity to Australians.

He is out of touch with public opinion and commercial reality. Reports from all over the world confirm that heavy investment in fossil fuels is, quite simply, bad business. According to US financial analyst Bloomberg,...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.