The climate this week – 11 May 2021

The climate this week – 11 May 2021

A weekly report on the politics, economics and science of climate action

By Jenny Goldie, CCL member from the electorate of Eden Monaro, NSW.

Featured image: Children and teenagers have been among the most effective actors in the fight for climate justice. They will be back on the streets on May 21st as part of a “School strike 4 climate” initiative. Source: Beyond Coal & Gas Image Library (cc).

More subsidies for fossil fuels are coming

Last Friday the Federal Government released their National Gas Infrastructure Plan – and it’s full of hand outs for oil and gas companies. According to 350.org, Friday’s plan brings the total up to $903 million of direct and indirect handouts for oil and gas companies. We haven’t even seen the final budget yet, which will be released on Tuesday.

A government full of gas

The federal government is hell-bent on pushing for an expansion of natural-gas extraction, though they know enough to try and soften their approach by incorporating hydrogen (hopefully green, but not necessarily) where they can. Case in point: tax-payer funds will be used to subsidise Energy Australia’s Tallawarra B gas plant at Wollongong. This will be supplemented by 5% hydrogen. All this was proposed to supposedly off-set the 300MW energy shortfall expected when the Liddell coal-fired power station will close in 2023. Additionally, the federal government is pushing for the construction of a gas plant at Kurri Kurri near Newcastle, to be built by Snowy Hydro Ltd.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Resources Keith Pitt is taking away money from Neoen’s Kaban Green Energy Hub west of Cairns. He stepped into disallow a loan by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF), claiming that it would not lower energy prices. This effectively stops a plan for creating a wind powered station that would have generated 250 jobs.

Where does this emphasis on natural gas come from? A gas-fired recovery was recommended by the National Covid-19 Commission, which happened to be stacked with gas-industry executives. We understand that another $60 billion will be committed to gas (pipelines, storage projects, and Andrew Forrest’s LNG import terminal) in Tuesday’s Budget.

Preparing for disaster

Some good news however might come out of the Budget. The Morrison government is establishing a $600m national recovery and resilience agency and creating a new climate service to help manage the risk of natural disasters. Several projects will be funded, such as: bushfire and cyclone-proofing houses; building levees for flood control; and improving the resilience of telecommunications and essential supplies.

Stopping Adani

The fight against the Adani mine goes on and on, though the war is not yet won. Nevertheless, there are small victories along the way. The latest one is the news that Arch Insurance has publicly confirmed that they will never provide insurance for Adani’s coal mine.

Other news

Back to gas though. The Climate Council has brought out yet another excellent report, claiming that cooking with gas is like living with a smoker for asthmatic kids.

Coming webinar. Japan’s net-zero carbon emissions – what happens now? May 12 at 5pm. Register here.

School strike 4 climate will happen around Australia in various places on Friday 21 May so be with the kids in spirit, if not in person.

Some of the most effective activists in the climate fight are health workers. One such group drafted an open letter asking the PM for increased ambition on climate action. It was released on Monday.

More resources

The views and wishes expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and not necessarily of CCL Australia.

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