|Liberal politicians' stance on climate change science|
|House of Representatives||Senate||House of Representatives||Senate|
|Abbott, Tony||Abetz, Eric (Tas)||Alexander, John||Birmingham, Simon (SA)|
|Andrews, Karen||Back, Christopher (WA)||Billson, Bruce||Boyce, Sue (Qld)|
|Andrews, Kevin||Bernadi, Cory (SA)||Briggs, Jamie||Brandis, George (Qld)|
|Bishop, Bronwyn||Bushby, David (Tas)||Broadbent, Russell||Cormann, Mathias (WA)|
|Gash, Joanna||Cash, Michaelia (WA)||Buchholz, Scott||Fifield, Mitch (Vic)|
|Haase, Barry||Edwards, Sean (SA)||Ciobo, Steven||Heffernan, Bill (NSW)|
|Hawke, Alex||Eggleston, Alan (WA)||Fletcher, Paul||Humphries, Gary (ACT)|
|Jensen, Dennis||Fawcett, David (SA)||Frydenburg, Josh||Payne, Marise (NSW)|
|Jones, Ewen||Fierravanti-Wells, Concetta (NSW)||Hockey, Joe||Smith, Dean (WA)|
|Keenan, Michael||Johnston, David (WA)||Hunt, Greg|
|Kelly, Craig||Kroger, Helen (Vic)||Irons, Steve|
|Matheson, Russel||MacDonald, Ian (Qld)||Laming, Andrew|
|Mirabella, Sophie||Mason, Brett (Qld)||Ley, Sussan|
|Ramsey, Rowan||Parry, Stephen (Tas)||Macfarlane, Ian|
|Randall, Don||Ronaldson, Michael (Vic)||Marino, Nola|
|Robb, Andrew||Ryan, Scott (Vic)||Morrison, Scott|
|Robert, Stuart||Moylan, Judi|
|Schulz, Alby||O'Dwyer, Kelly|
|Secker, Patrick||Prentice, Jane|
|Simpkins, Luke||Pyne, Christopher|
|Wyatt, Ken||Roy, Wyatt|
|Source: Lower House, Senate (uknowispeaksense – You know I speak sense)|
There's about as much doubt about global warming as there is about whether
the Earth is flat or round.
Wind power is
reduces greenhouse gas emissions and
saves lives by displacing polluting
coal-fired power stations, yet the Liberals are set against it.
Surely the only reason could be that they are being lobbied by the fossil
fuel industry who provide the Liberals with major campaign donations?
The Europeans have long been leaders in attempts to reduce their climate change impact. While the Federal US government is doing little, much is being done in the USA at the state level. China is by far the leading nation in the world at present in construction of new wind farms as a way of reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and limiting greenhouse gas production.
The nations with a high per-capita rate of greenhouse gas production are the ones that have to accept most of the blame for climate change, while those that suffer the most from climate change will be the poorer nations like those of SE Asia and the pacific. (Several decades ago we could have claimed that we didn't know we were causing climate damage as an excuse for inaction; we no longer can.) Does Australia risk becoming an international pariah if the Liberals get into government and stop all action to improve Australia's position on climate change? Most Australians want action on climate change; are they willing to support a political party that wants to do nothing? Those who do will be as culpable as the Liberals themselves.
The Liberals in three Australian states have now come out in support of mandating no wind turbine being built within 2km of a home without the home owner's approval. Many people in Australia and around the world are living very happily much closer to wind turbines than that. There should be, and are, laws about maximum sound levels from turbines at homes, but a mandatory 2km limit is foolish, not supported by the evidence and will greatly limit renewable energy development in Australia.
It is proven that the emissions from coal-fired power stations damage people's health and cost people's lives. By making the building of wind farms unviable the Liberals will be responsible for thousands of unnecessary serious illnesses and hundreds of unnecessary deaths each year.
Reported by The Climate Institute, 2012/03/29:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has for the first time proposed limits on carbon pollution from new power plants. (The EPA is required to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants by the U.S. Clean Air Act, due to the threat to health and welfare caused by carbon pollution. This was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007.)
January 2013; Tony Abbott's new policy advisor Maurice Newman hates wind power, doubts climate change, doesn't trust science and squeezes nine lies into one sentence
That a man with such opinions and capable of such lies could ever be a chief advisor of a Prime Minister of Australia can only be called depressing.
Surely one of the most valuable qualities in any (potential) national leader is the ability to choose advisors and assistants wisely and well. It seems that this is a quality that Tony Abbott is lacking.
In any case, even if a Liberal Federal Government was to retain the 20% by 2020 target, where could the wind farms be built if Liberal governments in the states stand against renewable energy?
As I write this section the tax has only been in effect for a few months, but it seems to have already resulted in the carbon intensity of the National Electricity Market (NEM) electricity falling from about 0.9 tonnes of CO2 per MWh down to 0.85.
This is a good result at such an early time. It shows that effective action on climate change is quite possible so long as there is a will. (In fact far more could be done especially if the Federal Government was to stop compensating and subsidising the fossil fuel industry.)
So, if an Abbott government is elected, we can expect to lose this small but significant step in the right direction.
Thanks to REneweconomy for making this news public.
Victorian Health Minister complains about $6 billion savings costing $13 millionAn article in the Brisbane Times, 2012/08/14, by Julian Drape showed the degree of bias against renewable energy and action on climate change in the Victorian Government. Quoting from the article...
Tony McMichael, from Australian National University's College of Medicine, said ... "recent claims by Victoria's Liberal health minister, David Davis, that the carbon tax would add $13 million a year to the cost of running the state's hospitals ... were 'appalling', 'ignorant' and 'mischievous' because $13 million was a trivial 0.1 per cent of the state's annual spend."I have written a page on how wind turbines save lives elsewhere on this site.
Victoria greatly discourages the building of wind farms
At the same time as bringing in the 2km law, the Victorian government proclaimed a number of 'no-go zones' for wind turbines. These seem to have been arbitrarily decided by someone in the Liberal Party and justification for their locations has never been forthcoming (see below).
The ABC World Today's Anthony Stewart reported on 2012/02/17:
"Six months after the Victorian Government brought in strict rules on wind farms, there are warnings the laws are forcing the industry out of the state. Since the guidelines were introduced no new wind farm energy projects have been proposed and the future of several existing projects is in doubt. There are fears Victoria will miss out on billions of dollars in investment and potentially force up the price of electricity."
Environmental Defenders Office
Victorians call for action on climate change
"The Essential Media poll of 1009 Victorians, commissioned by conservation group Environment Victoria, found 76 per cent believed the state government should cut emissions and not leave it to the federal government to take action through a carbon tax or other steps. Among Coalition voters, 66 per cent said the state had a responsibility to cut emissions."Another finding from the poll was that "just 22 per cent of voters consider wind farm laws that give householders right of veto over turbines within two kilometres of their house fair" and "50 per cent said the laws were not fair". "A majority said they wanted fewer coal-fired power plants (63 per cent) and more renewable energy (78 per cent) and energy efficiency (82 per cent)."
So it seems that the Victorian Liberals are 'backing the wrong horse' in supporting the fossil fuel industry against sustainable energy.
Victorian rules mystify Danes
"The head of the world's largest wind energy company has questioned the Baillieu government's rationale for giving households veto rights over turbines within two kilometres of their homes. Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Danish company Vestas, said he had "no idea" where the policy had come from. Mr Engel, who is visiting Victoria with Crown Prince Frederik and Tasmanian-born Crown Princess Mary, said no one had explained the motivation for Victoria's most restrictive regulations on turbines. In Denmark, when you have a wind turbine, in order to get approval, you need to be four times the height of the tip (away from a house). The tip height is 150-200 metres, so the distance from the turbine to where people live has got to be 600-800 metres. And that's fine."The parts of Victoria that have the best wind resources are fairly populated by Australian rural standards. If anyone having a home within 2km of a proposed turbine can veto the construction of that turbine it will be very difficult to build any more wind farms in the state.
Reneging on election commitmentEnergy Matters reported on 2012/03/28 that "The Victorian Government has reneged on election commitments of a 20% carbon emission reduction target and capping emissions from new coal fired power stations. The carbon emissions reduction target has been slashed from 20% to just 5%. The news comes just a week after The Age revealed the Baillieu government is preparing a campaign to promote development of Victoria's brown coal reserves." Victoria's brown coal, weight for weight, is some of the most polluting in Australia.
Liberal MP does about-face on wind powerRoyce Miller wrote an article in The Age, 2012/02/22, about Victorian Liberal MP Simon Ramsey. Mr Miller wrote of Mr Ramsey:
"His campaign against the Mount Gellibrand wind farm has involved a remarkable personal shift – in the mid-2000s was a vocal champion of wind energy and obtained permits for turbines on a parcel of his own land, which he has since sold. His recent activism has included campaigning against turbines for which he previously held permits."Mr Ramsay has been accused of misusing his position.
It seems to me that Mr Ramsay has been pressured by the Liberal hierachy, or directly by the fossil-fuel interests that seem to have so much power over the Liberal Party, to change his stance.
Where did the 'no-go zones' come from?In an article in Yes2Renewables written by Cam Walker, Liberal MP Donna Petrovich, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Environment, is asked to explain the 'no-go zones' in which wind farms will not be allowed. Petrovich has said that the "No Go zones were carefully selected where communities 'on the whole have told us that they are not appreciative of wind farms'".
Cam Walker has asked Ms Petrovich to justify this claim, given the fact that surveys have shown a high level of popular acceptance for wind power. Ms Petrovich has not replied.
Ms Petrovich's email address is 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. I have asked her to justify her statement, and urge readers to do the same.
"FEARS that wind turbines make people sick are ''not scientifically valid'', and the arguments mounted by anti-wind farm campaigners are unconvincing, according to confidential briefings given to the state government by NSW Health.This information was brought to light by investigations carried out by Friends of the Earth, including particularly, Cam Walker.
Documents obtained under freedom-of-information laws show that health officials repeatedly warned ministers last year that there was no evidence for ''wind turbine syndrome'', a collection of ailments including sleeplessness, headaches and high blood pressure that some people believe are caused by the noise of spinning blades.
But the department's advice contrasts with the view of the Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, who was responsible for draft guidelines, released in December, that significantly tighten the approvals process."
For some of the submissions from people on the NSW guidelines see this Yes! to renewables page.
Brad Hazzard has said that the NSW guidelines are the "toughest wind farm
guidelines in Australia and possibly the world".
One would have to wonder why he made them so tough, unless he is against
sustainable energy developments?
And then, why is he against sustainable energy development unless he is
looking after the interests of the fossil fuel industry?
"Newly elected [Liberal-National] Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is
expected to move quickly to disband the state's climate change and renewable
This is part of a post on
REnew Economy written by Giles Parkinson
on 2012/03/27, shortly after the election of the new Queensland government.
This would seem to confirm the premise of this page: that the Liberals do not want to do anything to reduce Australia's shameful rate of greenhouse gas production.
The previous Labor Government of Queensland suported a huge wind farm at Hughenden as part of a renewable energy initiative called the Copper String, but this is not suported by the new Liberal-National Government.
The Brisbane Times, 2012/06/08, reported that Environment Minister "Mr [Andrew] Powell repeated a statement he had made to ABC's Radio National that he was not convinced that humans were having an impact on climate change". Premier Campbell Newman described his minister's view as "refreshing".
ThinkProgress reported on 2012/07/18
"The latest snapshot on this inglorious race to the bottom came last week during the Queensland LNP [Liberal National Party] state conference with a motion proposed by the Noosa LNP member Richard Pearson. Pearson's motion called on the states education minister John-Paul Langbroek to "remove environmental propaganda material, in particular post-normal science about 'climate change', from the curriculum and as adjunct material at exam time". The motion was passed with party members overwhelmingly in favor.
More in September 2012Giles Parkinson wrote a piece in ReNewEconomy on 2012/09/12 listing climate change and clean energy initiatives that Premier Campbell Newman announced were to be shut-down. They included:
"the Solar Flagships project ..., the Queensland Climate Change Fund, the Queensland Renewable Energy Fund, the Queensland Smart Energy Savings Fund, the Solar Initiatives Package, the Waste Avoidance and Resources Efficiency Fund, the Local Government Sustainable Future Fund and the Climate Smart Home Service. Other projects to be brought to an end are the Solar Hot Water Rebate Scheme, the Solar Atlas, the Cloncurry Solar Thermal Trial Site Remediation and a separate Solar PV Farm, the Bright Thing Campaign, the Renewable Energy Industry Development Plan, and Climate Smart Business Service. The Wide Bay Community Solar Farm has been deferred."
Giving every home owner the right to veto any wind turbine within two kilometres of his or her home will make construction of wind farms in many areas in SA impractical.
Before 2003, when SA's first wind farm at Starfish Hill was built, SA had no wind power, but by 2011 SA was generating more than 20% of its electricity from clean, renewable, wind. This is a wonderful achievement, making SA a world leader in the fight against climate change, and all South Australian's should be proud of it.
Wind and hydro power are by a large margin the most viable forms of renewable energy available at present (the cost of solar is coming down, but an average utility scale wind turbine generates about 2000 times as much electricity as an average roof-top solar installation). Of course SA has negligible opportunity to develop hydro power, we have far too little rainfall for that. If the Liberals make wind power impractical they will greatly limit renewable power development in SA.
South Australia's best wind resources are mostly either on the coast or on ridge-tops within a hundred kilometres of the coast and it is not financially viable to build a wind farm a long distance from a power transmission line (which cost around a million dollars per kilometre to build).
The first anti-renewable energy flyer can be downloaded here.
Some lies and half-truths in the SA
Liberal flyer –
"Many people report sleep disruption and nausea. Peer-reviewed studies show those living over a kilometre from industrial wind turbines suffered sleep disruption so severe it affected their daytime functioning and mental health."
The Central Western Daily (Orange) reported on 2011/12/05 that Blayney mayor Bruce Kingham stated that "In the 11 years since the [Blayney] wind farm [was built], we have had not one complaint"
Recent opinion surveys conducted by Pacific Hydro and the CSIRO both showed strong support for wind power.
The construction of wind farms is a great boost to regional businesses and employment. The continuing payments to farmers and maintenance workers during the 20-25 year life of the wind farms is a long-term benefit to regional economies. Many wind farm companies also make substantial regular donations to community funds.
Isobel Redmond has said that wind and solar power were a major cause of
rising electricity prices in South Australia.
That this is a lie is shown by a recent report by the Australian Energy
Market Commission which states that costs related to power distribution
accounted for 40% and wholesale component factors accounted for another
35% of price increases in SA.
The report also stated that Australia-wide costs related to the renewable
energy target contributed only 3% to electricity price rises.
(See Are wind farms the cause of rising
electricity prices? for more information.)
Also Ms Redmond was reported by Adelaide Now to have said on 2012/01/21, "[Wind power is] probably the least efficient and most unreliable of all the green energy sources".
What could she mean by 'least efficient'?Efficiency in a fossil-fuelled power station, such as those that the Liberals seem so keen on supporting, is very important. Every tonne of coal that is burned causes around three tonnes of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere; so it is vitally important to squeeze every Joule of useful energy out of that tonne of coal.
But how does it apply to the wind? How would you meaningfully measure the efficiency of a wind turbine? If less than all the wind power available to the turbine is converted to electricity, does it matter? What harm is done?
Some wind farm opponents confuse efficiency with capacity factor. The capacity factor of Australian wind turbines averages out at 34%, which means that for every 10 mega-Watts of installed capacity we get an average of 3.4 MW of electricity. The capacity factor of solar photovoltaics in SA is around 18%.
What could she mean by 'most unreliable'?
By making such obviously ill-informed statements Ms Redmond is probably doing more harm to the Liberals and herself than she is to the renewable energy industry.
On 2012/01/24 I offered to sit down and talk to Ms Redmond about the facts
of wind power; as of late February I had not received any reply to my email.
Like so many anti-wind power people, Mr Ridgway made the point that wind turbines do not operate all the time and therefore conventional power stations must be available to fill in. In this he conveniently forgot that all major power generators are off line some of the time, either for maintenance or from breakdown. Fossil fuel generators are typically available only 85% of the time. Other generators must be available to fill these gaps too.
Both coal-fired and nuclear power stations are inflexible in generation, they do not easily respond to varying demand on the grid. Gas and oil-fired generators can be flexible, but are expensive to operate.
Significantly Senator Edwards does not complain of the billions of dollars in subsidies and compensation going to the coal-fired power station operators and the fossil fuel industry.
Senator Edwards makes a big thing about rises in the price of electricity in SA and falsely blames this on wind farms. He neglects to mention that a report from the Australian Energy Market Commission gave 3% as the "contribution to national price increases" from the Renewable Energy Target and that wholesale electricity prices have been falling during the period when most of Australia's wind farms were coming on-line (see here).
Almost every nation that has wind farms is planning to build more.
In an effort to shore-up their stance wind farm detractors search and
search for statements about governments that have changed their minds and
are not going to build more wind farms; they don't find many.
Senator Edwards found a statement from Britain's Climate Change Minister
declaring that "there would be no significant expansion of wind farms
beyond those already in the pipeline".
What Senator Edwards did not say is that later the UK Prime Minister said
that "There has been no change in the government's policy on renewable
Liberal Democrats boss Ed Davey said "The government is still committed to
renewables including onshore wind".
The Senator might be interested to know that England's 4th largest onshore
wind farm was
approved in early February 2013,
after he wrote the statement above.
Senator Edwards finishes his press release by apparently regretting the fact that one of South Australia's coal-fired power stations was, in future, only to operate for six months of the year and the other to be closed-down indefinitely (largely due to the introduction of a significant amount of wind power).
Senator Edwards on solar power
"Stop the press!" Edwards said. "We have the manufacturing capacity to build solar plants. Great! We have the technology–I suppose we do, thanks for that. What the senator [Greens Senator Scott Ludlam] failed to mention was the cost, and the comparative cost."The graph on the right shows that at the time of Senator Edward's comments the cost of electricity from new wind power was considerably cheaper than from new coal and solar thermal was comparable to new coal.
It is a pity that Senator Edwards, who represents South Australia, a state
that has made great strides recently in developing renewable energy, in a
world in great need for more renewable energy, has such a low opinion of it.
He could and should be proud of his state's achievements, but instead all
he can seem to manage is negativity.
It is arguable that the exceptionally hot and dry summer that was responsible for the damage in the Sping Gully Conservation Park shown on the right may not have had anything to do with climate change. What is undeniable by any well informed and honest person is that exceptional weather events such as that of 2007/08 will become more common as climate change progresses unless we get serious about taking action such as replacing fossil fuel fired power stations with wind farms and other forms of benign renewable energy.
The red stringybark trees in the Clare area are in the coolest gullies and on the tops of the highest hills; they can be found nowhere else in South Australia. As temperatures rise and droughts become more common they will probably become locally extinct.
How many other species will follow?
The fact that the people who put the SA Liberal Party flyers together made so many errors, got most of their photos from the stridently anti-renewable energy Waubra Foundation and one of mine (without asking permission), and first said that they were going to enforce a 5km exclusion zone around houses and later changed that to 2km, suggests something thrown together with very little research, objectivity, competence, diligence or care; not to mention low ethical standards.
Contrary to the tenor of the Liberal flyer, wind power development has been a great success in SA, it generates about 25% of SA's power and has substantially reduced power imports from the eastern states and, very importantly, lowered greenhouse gas emissions from power generation.
The flyers give the impression that wind power is unpopular in rural districts. As shown by the Pacific Hydro survey released in early 2012, the great majority of country people are actually strongly in favour of wind power. A few days before the Pac. Hydro report, CSIRO released a report, "Acceptance of Rural Windfarms in Australia: a snapshot". Some of its key findings were:
In 2010 the NSW Government surveyed Community attitudes to wind farms and renewable energy in NSW;
81% of the people surveyed saw wind as an acceptable energy source, more than
any other energy source other than solar.
Pacific Hydro and CSIRO reports released in 2012In November 2011 Pacific Hydro surveyed attitudes to wind energy in ten communities across Victoria, NSW and SA where wind farms were operating or proposed. The main result was 83% support, 14% opposed, 3% undecided.
The CSIRO report "Acceptance of Rural Windfarms in Australia: a snapshot"; found that there is strong community support for wind farms (contrary to the impression given by the popular media) and discussed ways of increasing this further.
Opinion Survey by Australian Wind Energy AssociationThe following was extracted from a Summary of Opinion Surveys on Wind Power conducted by the European Wind Energy Association:
"The Australian Wind Energy Association commissioned a telephone survey in August 2003 covering 1,027 people. 94% of respondents thought that a target to increase the contribution of clean energy from renewable resources was a good (32%) or very good idea (62%). Less than 3% considered the current target to be too high or much too high. 88% said they wanted the government to increase support to the renewable energy sector, compared to 26% wanting an increase in support for the fossil fuel sector. 95% supported (27%) or strongly supported (68%) building wind farms to meet Australia's rapidly increasing demand for electricity. 91% agreed it was more important to build wind farms for electricity than avoid building them in rural Australia. For 71% of respondents, reducing greenhouse pollution outweighed protecting industries that rely on reserves of fossil fuel."
Once the Liberal Party's agenda to destroy the Australian wind industry becomes widely known it will backfire on the Liberals.
There are already many constraints on where wind turbines can be built:
Most current wind farms have their turbines no closer than one kilometre from homes; that means an exclusion zone of about three square kilometres for each house.
A study of Wind Turbine Setbacks from Residences for the Minnesota Department of Commerce by Katheryn M. B. Haugen, 2011/10/19, showed that in most parts of the world mandated setbacks between wind turbines and homes is 500m or 1km. A figure in this study (Figure 2, page 26; graph on the right) showed no jurisdiction that mandated a setback as great as the 2kms mandated by several Australian State governments. (Scotland mandates a distance of 2km from towns.)
It seems that the 2km setback in parts of Austalia is much more aimed at slowing or stopping the development of renewable energy in Australia than protecting people.
The Victorian rule of 5km from towns is plainly very much out of step with international standards.
As mentioned above,
Australia ranks 53rd in the world in population, but sixth in the
world in the CO2 produced by its electricity industry; it has
0.3% of the world's population, but produces 1.5% of the
world's greenhouse gasses; it is well up among the worst
polluters on the planet.
Climate change and ocean acidification, both largely caused by greenhouse gasses, are, or will be, the greatest disasters in the history of humanity. They will result in the displacement and possibly the deaths of hundreds of millions or billions of people and the extinction of thousands or even millions of species.
The Liberals in Australia and the Republicans in the USA are setting an example to the rest of the world. The USA and Australia are, per capita, the worst greenhouse polluters among the OECD nations. If the USA and Australia does nothing toward decreasing our huge contribution toward causing climate change, what sort of message does that send to the rest of the world?
For the Liberals to, not just fail to take positive action toward reducing fossil fuel use, but to actively campaign against sustainable energy, is a crime against humanity and the biosphere that would have to rank as worse than anything the generals have done in Burma, Sadam Husein in Iraq, or Assad in Syria.
Not a level playing field for wind power, written by Neil Perry, research lecturer at Uni. Western Sydney, criticizes the unjustifiably harsh treatment of wind power by Australia's Liberals.
Sandi Keane writing in Independent Australia on:
Article by Simon Copland on the ABC's The Drum exposing the Coalitions 'war against renewable energy' and discussing its anti-business aspects.
Is Nuclear Power Globally Scalable?, (by Derek Abbott, School of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, University of Adelaide) provides a convincing argument that nuclear power cannot replace fossil fuels as mankind's main source of energy.
Article by Emeritus Prof. David Shearman and Ass. Prof. Linda Selvey in The Conversation asking why there is so little governmental concern about proven health problems from fossil fuel pollution while some states are hard on wind farms that have no known health problems.
On this page...|
Abbott no judge of talent"
Can we believe the NSW change of heart?
Carbon tax affecting emissions
Climate change damage
Even the USA is acting
Isobel digs a hole
Liberal flyer on wind power in SA
Liberal party opposed to climate change action
Lies and half-truths
Queensland joins in
SA Senator Sean Edwards
What's wrong with a 2km limit?
What is the science telling us?
Wind farms are popular