Ditch climate targets altogether and adopt an engineering approach to CO2 reduction

A wind and solar network will not work without wires and storage, and even then can’t meet the needs of the country

The Australian Institute for Progress has responded to opposition leader Peter Dutton’s announcement in an interview in The Australian he would oppose Labor’s carbon emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030 by calling on him to reject all climate reduction targets in favour of an engineering approach to reducing CO2 emissions.

Executive Director Graham Young said Australia’s emissions policy is being run by media release, not engineering principles and the targets that are being set will not be met, bringing the whole emissions reduction program into question, as well as the expertise of those proposing it.

“There is no point mandating targets when the infrastructure and the technology is not there to meet them at any price, let alone a price that is affordable.

“Recent pronouncements by AEMO and industry, which appear to be belatedly accepted by the energy minister, Chris Bowen, demonstrate the problems, which are lack of network, lack of storage, and lack of gas as an alternative to storage.”

“To that one can add the failure to consider technologies like nuclear for power generation and industrial heat, as well as the complete lack of technologies which can decarbonise transport, manufacturing, building, agriculture and mining.”

“If the ‘Future’ is to be ‘Made in Australia’ then it will require on-demand, 50 hertz electricity with 99.998% reliability. The network cannot even offer that now with manufacturing and other businesses leaving Australia as a result.”

Mr Young said part of the problem was policy makers treating the electricity network as something predominantly subject to the laws of economics when its first laws are the laws of physics.

“Network and the storage need to be in place before wind and solar generation can be deployed, and even then the cost of the energy ecosystem puts us well-behind countries like China who are building coal-fired and nuclear electricity plants and only using wind and solar where appropriate.

“Batteries are a long way from providing the necessary storage. Over the last year, batteries provided just 0.2% of electricity generated. By contrast solar and wind were 31.6%, coal 56.5%, and gas 4.6%.

“Short of additional storage governments will need to subsidise coal-fired plants to keep them running so the network stays functional, as we have just seen with the NSW government deal with Eraring.

“The alternative to storage is gas. Even under the latest AEMO ISP we will still need gas and carbon capture and storage to meet NetZero by 2050.”

Mr Young said the transition has to take as long as it has to take, and can only occur if affordable alternatives are available – arbitrary targets are a hindrance.

“Unreachable targets are being driven by the idea there is a “climate emergency”, or “climate crisis”, but these ideas are not supported by the IPCC Working Papers, nor by many mainstream high profile climate academics.

“Recent academics to publish books arguing against a climate crisis include Michael Mann (Distinguished Professor of Meteorology University of Pennsylvania and the proponent of the “hockey stick” temperature graph), Mike Hulme (Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge), Judith Curry (Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology) and Clive Hamilton (Professor of Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University).

“The decisions we make now will shape our future for the next half century and we cannot afford to get them wrong.

“Peter Dutton is to be commended for being prepared to argue for a modified timeline. He just has to convince not just the government and voters, but many of his own Liberal party members.

”He also needs to look more realistically at NetZero by 2050.”