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Australian poll confirms that climate change is the key to election

We mentioned last week that Australia is about to have an election fought on climate change, and that its Labor Party is looking likely to oust the incumbent coal-loving (aptly name) Coalition, at least if we believe the latest poll from there.

The poll was carried out by the Lowy Institute, an independent political thinktank and it made the point that climate change now tops issues like terrorism, the North Korean missile threat, and cyber attacks by foreign nations. It concludes that global warming is a critical threat which 64% of adults put as their number 1 priority. This is the first time since 2006 that it has gone anywhere near the top.

The entire Coalition strategy on climate change is its Emissions Reductions Fund, basically a tired carbon trading scheme that has never worked to reduce emissions.

This campaign was brought alive by the quote from one mature female journalist, “If that’s a climate change policy then I’m Beyonce,” and the Coalition has just 4% of the population backing its plans.

Rethink Energy has written quite a bit about climate change and politics, simply because one poor climate change result is likely to ripple through global politics, and this is the first election in mid-May likely to lead on the topic.

The interesting thing is that any country still suffering the effects of long term infrastructure funding deficits (and who isn’t) plus wage restraint and austerity in the face of their balance of payments and recession, is ripe for a government who says “to hell with it, we cannot wait, let’s spend on energy infrastructure.” This is going to drive through an economic stimulus at the same time, which is likely to make any government doing it exceptionally popular. The US Republican party may be completely against such an action, but if the US needs it, they may follow Australia come 2020, and not re-elect Trump, as everyone expects them to, and instead head down the same socialist path.

Australia is a huge coal producer and the sooner it weans itself off this, and replaces coal jobs with wind and solar jobs, the healthier it will become. And any government that takes this stance, and in the process saves any part of its Great barrier reef, will get the eternal gratitude of Australia’s naturalists and its tourist industry.

In the latest poll some 60% favor prompt action on climate change, 28% prefer gradual action to lower costs and just 10% say let’s wait for more evidence.

The wider coal industry employs about 200,000 people in Australia, and 37,8900 directly in mining the coal, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Renewable energy on the other hand employs just 17,740 people today, expected to rise to 60,000 by 2030. This is not typical, with other countries employing far more in renewables and energy efficiency, than in mining. Energy efficiency in Australia employs about 59,000 today and is expected to reach 120,000 in the next 5 years.

The coalition had originally wanted to support the introduction of Electric Vehicles, but was forced to U-turn after opposition from motoring groups, the Institute of Petroleum and its coalition partners. Now Labor believes a switch deadline for EVs can be re-introduced.

Interestingly US energy consulting group Wood Mackenzie advised its clients this week to expect to see emissions targets on the largest 250 carbon producers in Australia after the election, including overseas players like Chevron, Woodside, Glencore, South 32, Anglo American and BHP. But again this is expected to result in having to buy expensive carbon credits – a system which just lightly taxes really profitable pollution at percentages of costs ranging between 3% and 12%. When Labor gets in, Wood Mackenzie may have to prepare its clients for a much tougher ride.2

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