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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Dr Andrew Forrest says Climate Trigger and Carbon Solutions Levy needed as well as ending fossil fuel subsidies

At the National Press Club of Australia Iron Ore magnate  Dr Andrew Forrest AO proposed three simple policies for Australia to become become a green energy superpower:

  1. Implement a Climate Trigger for new projects; a “Best for Australia” test which explicitly considers climate impacts when approving new major projects.
  2. Replacing fossil fuel subsidies with an equally powerful green energy subsidy well before 2030.
  3. A Carbon Solutions Levy that would apply to 100 odd major fossil fuel projects in Australia and fossil fuel importing.

“Not changing is not an option, because green energy is lowest cost energy in any Australian home,” Dr Forrest said.

He called for the politicians that represent the Bush to stop taking an ideological line over climate solutions and "to stop dividing us with the false hope that we can cling to fossil fuels forever". He also labelled the Coalition’s push for nuclear energy “bulldust” and a “new lie” that would delay the clean energy transition and harm regional Australia.

There have been recent comments by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Opposition Climate spokesperson Ted O'Brien that the La Trobe Valley and Anglesea would be considered as possible sites for nuclear power plants, according to the Age: The Victorian towns where Peter Dutton is considering going nuclear

But the cost of nuclear power is prohibitive - some 10 to 15 times more expensive than solar and wind. And it would take at least 10-20 years to develop. Would require changing both Federal and State legislative bans on nuclear power. And most importantly would no doubt not have social licence from LaTrobe and Anglesea communities to be developed and operate.

And this is beside the point that the technology being considered - Small Modular Reactors - only exists in a few pilot plants in China and Russia. A commercial plant being developed in the USA was scrapped in 2023 as commercially unviable.

Forrest outlined the looming threat from Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms (CBAM), which Europe is on track to implement in 2026. If we don't apply carbon pricing or similar mechanism here in Australia, our exports to Europe will be hit with a carbon levy. It makes sense that we apply a levy here in Australia and retain that money to avoid our products being hit when exported.

“We do nothing, apart from having more expensive energy than the rest of the world, and change will be forced on us when it is too late for Australians to benefit from its immense opportunities.

“Or we take the lead now and improve the lives of every Australian.” he said. 

Watch a short excerpt:

His speech was firmly aimed at the Nationals and Liberal Party in their ideological opposition to climate solutions that would reinvigorate regional Australia, bringing jobs and guaranteed income to farmers and communities in hosting solar and wind renewables and leasing of land for high voltage transmission lines.

He called on those who 'claim to represent the bush now to stop dividing us with the false hope that we can cling to fossil fuels forever'. 'We can't. So please stop betraying the bush,' Forrest said.

“A leader will remind the farming community offline that global warming is real and that all their customers are taking it very seriously,” he said.

“Instead of knocking a slow-moving, gracious wind turbine, try a nuclear power plant or a belching coal plant next door.

“The fact that we can feel climate change already despite the ocean soaking up most of out heat-generated emissions means Australia has finally run out of time.

“We get the next few years wrong and Australia’s economy and the rest of us cook. We get it right, and Australia enjoys decades of economic growth, full employment and reinvigoration of its natural environment.”

A majority Senate Committee report recently came out opposing insertion of a Climate Trigger in national environment laws. This is despite Anthony Albanese proposing a Climate Trigger way back in 2005.

The Greens Climate Trigger amendment would, for the first time, require the environment minister to consider the climate impact of a major development during the assessment process under Australia’s environmental laws. Currently the Minister can only consider impacts to threatened species or ecosystems. 

The proposed Climate Trigger would ban developments that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 a year and a requirement for ministerial approval for any projects that would emit between 25,000 and 100,000 tonnes of C02 annually. But the Labor Government and LNP members on the committee opposed such a measure, arguing it was not needed. (See Climate Action Merribek: Climate Trigger not needed says Senate Committee majority report, despite public support)

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, said that “business leaders like Forrest can see that, for the sake of our environment and economy, we need to stop expanding fossil fuels. Forrest backed the growing call for a climate trigger in environment law and I hope that Labor were listening.” reported the Guardian.

Watch the full speech and questions:

See also:

Michael Janda ,ABC News, 26 February 2024, Andrew Forrest slams fossil fuel industry and Coalition for nuclear energy 'bulldust' 

The article particularly highlights:

  • Andrew Forrest says the fossil fuel industry is using the prospect of nuclear energy to slow the transition to renewable energy.
  • Mr Forrest says the Inflation Reduction Act is effective at encouraging a renewable energy boom in the US, and Australia should consider similar tax credit policies.
Paul Karp, The Guardian, 26 February 2024, Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest labels Coalition push for nuclear energy ‘bulldust’ and a ‘new lie’ 

Mining billionaire says cost of nuclear will be four to five times that of renewables and opposition’s policy is ‘an excuse for doing nothing’

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