Proponents of green power — solar and wind — took a blow to the head Saturday when Australia’s Liberal-National Coalition united conservatives and threw out the opposition center-left Labor Party on a platform that stressed economic growth, tax cuts and support for Australia’s energy producers.
It was a simple case of let the money lead — or follow the money.
The bottom line, as we quoted The Wall Street Journal Saturday, was “voters in resource rich districts turned against center left opponents who had put climate change at the heart of their campaign,” — making climate change a moral issue rather than an economic issue.
But don’t expect to read or hear anything much about this “climate change drubbing,” said the Journal. Because the climate alarmists — and their allies in the media — were defeated.
“Climate change re-emerged as an election issue following a summer of wildfires, drought, floods and extreme temperatures,” noted the Journal. “Voter support for policies aimed at addressing climate change was at the highest level since 2007. But, as in the U.S., divisions grew more stark as the issue gathered steam.
“Labor [the Australian center left party] pledged to reduce emissions by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030, after Australia under the conservatives became the first developed nation to abolish a price on carbon in 2014. The party also promised a push on renewable energy and electric vehicles …”
But it failed to achieve voter approval.
Australia is a coal producing powerhouse, and to Australian voters economics matter far more than perceived green energy that is far more expensive than hydrocarbon energy — oil, natural gas and coal — and is far, far less efficient.
Why? Because “Caring in the abstract,” said the Journal, “isn’t the same as doing something that has tangible costs. Faced with lost jobs, higher taxes and a higher cost of living, voters in democracies time and time again have rejected climate change policies that wouldn’t in the end matter all that much to the climate.”
The newly elected Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, famous for posing in Parliament holding a lump of coal, “reminded voters,” said the Journal, “that no renewable energy source is as efficient as carbon and that China’s annual emissions rise is greater than Australia’s total emissions each year.”
Warren Buffet, the billionaire investor, has placed a $10 billion bet on the future of oil and gas, “helping old-school Occidental Petroleum buy Anadarko, a U.S. shale producer,” says Mark Mills, in a Journal op-ed. A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a partner in Cottonwood Venture Partner, an energy-tech venture fund, Mr. Mills is the author of The ‘New Energy Economy’: An Exercise in Magical Thinking.
Commenting that the shale revolution has been the single biggest addition to the world energy supply in the past century, “and even bullish green scenarios still see global demand for oil and gas rising, if more slowly,” he says “none of the wealthy nations that are parties to the Paris Accord — or any of the poor ones — have come close to meeting the green pledges called for.”
Quoting the International Energy Agency on what has actually happened, he says: “Energy demand worldwide [in 2018] grew by … its fastest pace this decade … driven by a robust global economy … with fossil fuels meeting nearly 70% of the growth for the second year running.” And it foresees the U.S. supplying nearly three-fourths of the world’s net new demand for oil and gas.
Why? Because renewable energy remains far too expensive. “Simply propose taking away subsidies or mandates, and you’ll unleash the full fury of the green lobby,” he said.
John Hood, chairman of the John Locke Foundation and a columnist whose pieces regularly on these pages, points out that solar facilities are terribly over rated. Saying solar enthusiasts misrepresent solar efficacy by omitting peak demand shortcomings, he says most of the time they don’t produce any energy. “Engineers who’ve worked with electric utilities say solar facilities generate no power most of the day and seldom reach peak generation, yet they are marketed by how many megawatts of electricity they can produce during the rare times they’re at maximum output.”
He quotes Herb Eckerlin, professor emeritus at N.C. State University and a retired engineer who has designed power plants for the electric utility industry saying county officials who approve zoning and permits for solar facilities and state lawmakers can be misled by the megawatt ratings assigned to a solar application because the rating reflects only potential — a maximum output that occurs for about one hour around noon on a sunny day. “A solar plant generates less than the megawatt rating the other 23 hours, and no power at all the 14 hours the sun is down.”
Yet — solar power is subsidized — “the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act requires utilities to buy all commercial solar power generated, even if it’s more expensive than energy from nuclear, natural gas or hydro power.”
Climate alarmists and political manipulators have proposed that America adopt a regressive tax on carbon — which Australian voters abolished in 2014 — redistributing it as a “dividend.” It may be debated but it won’t fly.