Turnbull has been under pressure from the Nationals who are opposed to an emissions trading scheme. As a result we get this:
The Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, will announce a three-pronged policy of greenhouse gas reduction that will impose no direct costs on businesses or homes and require no behavioural change, and aims to eradicate divisions in the Coalition over climate change.
It's astonishing that a serious response to climate change can be advertised as requiring "no behvioural change" but there you go.
The speech itself is interesting, with three major policy proposals.
Our plan captures three gigantic opportunities for CO2 abatement that the Rudd Government has ignored:
· A Green Carbon Initiative - a comprehensive biocarbon strategy ofinvesting in the health of our landscape, restoring soil carbon by reversing over-grazing and excessive tillage, embedding CO2 in biochar (charcoal fertiliser), tree planting, and revegetation;
· Dramatically increasing energy efficiency, especially in buildings;
· Constructing at least two industrial scale carbon capture and storage power stations deploying industrial scale solar energy and geothermal energy and harnessing the energy of the oceans through tidal and wave power.
The Green Carbon Initiative aims to address the issues of terrestrial carbon sequestration discussed in my previous post. Turnbull has been talking to serious people about this and the measures he proposes seem worthwhile. Of course the small matter of the structure of the incentives in the Kyoto protocol and its successors needs to be addressed so that Australia gets full credit for any moves in this direction. It's hard to know how to weigh the contributions of serious thought and political opportunism in this proposal.
As to the second point, increased energy efficiency should be the FIRST priority of policy makers and politicians in response to the twin challenges of climate change and the need for economic stimulus. Here I would fault Turnbull only for inappropriate emphasis.
His third point which mainly emphasizes carbon capture and storage at coal fired power stations needs a serious caveat. CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE IS AN UNPROVEN TECHNOLOGY. On the other hand the various sources of alternative energy generation are already technologically feasible and even economic in the right circumstances. Again the emphasis is all wrong.
Finally the implication that the Rudd Government is not thinking about any of these approaches seems a little unfair!
Nevertheless the politics of climate change and emissions trading in Australia look to be very interesting in the coming year.