Lagging behind on renewables
As Karen Middleton writes (“Coal custody”, December 14-20), Labor leader Anthony Albanese sees the future of coal in Australia as a choice for or against jobs in the coalmining industry. It is likely to be neither. There will be domestic and external demand for Australian thermal coal for at least two decades as the world transitions to renewable energy, led by China, ironically the world’s biggest CO2 emitter. In 2018 China invested $US91.2 billion in renewable energy, ahead of the United States ($US48.5 billion) and Europe ($US61.2 billion). Demand for our metallurgical coal will persist for many decades. The Australian coal industry is lagging far behind other sectors of the energy industry. For example, several of the world’s largest oil companies, including Shell, BP, Total, the Italian multinational Eni, and Norway’s Equinor, are investing in renewable energy. They see the writing on the wall – and it isn’t written with coal.
– Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT
Coal comfort from election result
I cannot sit back and read “Coal custody” and the editorial “This is an emergency” in the December 14-20 edition without comment. It has to be noted that despite Shorten’s unpopularity and a number of apparent financial burdens on the wealth and privileges of voters, the issue of coal played a vital role in returning the Coalition to government. Obviously not to govern, which Morrison was at pains to point out, but to keep the destructive, tax-focused Labor pretenders out in the cold. The ploy worked a treat as “quiet” Australians, more specifically in Queensland, voted for the Liberals in droves. There is no doubt whatsoever the issue of coal played a major role in that preference, rather than the performance of the people already holding power. I for one believe Albanese is on the right track, politically if not ecologically. He has no option if Australia is to rid itself of this do-nothing government. Once in power, however, the odds can change dramatically and that is what one would hope in the event Labor wins the next election.
– Rod Stephens, Brighton, Vic
We all need to accept climate responsibility
ScoMo is correct not to accept total fault for prolonged severe heat stress, rampant bushfires and polluted Sydney skies (Paul Bongiorno, “Smoke exposes PM’s clouded judgement”, December 14-20). After all, 25 million Australians are complicit in being the first ranked for per capita energy consumption and carbon footprint generation. Our high quality of life, underpinned by energy- and resource-intensive behaviours and hunger for acquisitions, requires curtailment. Driving smaller cars, commuting using buses and trains, walking to local shops, having fewer kids and limiting the size of our homes remain key to Australia’s compliance with the Paris accord. Australians have not publicly conceded that our consumerist and comfort-driven behaviours are on aggregate unsustainable. If each of us won’t take personal responsibility for their own profligate life-print, is it any surprise that our climate change denialist government remains obstinate in refusing to institute eco-friendly public policy changes?
– Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld
Major parties put self-interest first
As last week’s editorial forcefully argues, the PM’s stated positions on most moral issues generally have the depth and gravitas of a football cheer squad. It was left to the opposition leader, however, to finally elevate the climate issue to truly existential-crisis level when he relegated it below the priority of restoring his party’s support from the coal industry (“Coal custody”). One might have expected that one of the major parties in an ostensibly liberal democracy would have placed at least one matter above the virtues of selfishness in its stated priorities. Then again, this wouldn’t be the first time that populist banality has won a guernsey in the pantheon of evil.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas
Leaders lack vision for the future
What a damning but true editorial in today’s Saturday Paper. Good to know someone else feels the same wrath for our leaders as I do. I would, however, like to add a corollary. I believe we are moving from the industrial age towards the digital or technological age when all things are willy-nilly and going to change. Therefore, we have to put far more emphasis on the advantages and opportunities this next age will bring. Renewable energy, for example, can offer so much for employment, but we need to know exactly what and the training required. Many were initially reluctant to embrace industry; now we have another massive change occurring before we’re all ready to understand and embrace it, our government least of all. My personal fury is tempered by the opportunities we should be debating and utilising. Our future needs to be explained and led by those who know its potentials. The thing that galls me the most is that neither major political party wants nor has the guts to lead us towards that potentially exciting future.
– Joanna van Kool, Crows Nest, NSW
Drilling down into Albanese’s flawed logic
Anthony Albanese’s statement that we should continue to be a major player in international coal exports is based on a number of questionable assumptions. Arguing “if we don’t, others will” completely ignores the fact we are facing a climate change disaster. The solution is not to maintain Australian coal exports. Albanese’s logic would call for more Adani mines because others might open them. For inaction on pollution, because others would continue to produce it. For concentration on a Trump-like view that we need to put Australia first no matter what the consequences. For the view that if we do nothing, there will be jobs in the coalmining industry forever. It is time for Australia to become part of an international movement to save the planet, not to play political games to win votes and offset “wedging” in parliament.
– Malcolm Ellenport, East Brighton, Vic
Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on December 21, 2019.
For almost a decade, The Saturday Paper has published Australia’s leading writers and thinkers. We have pursued stories that are ignored elsewhere, covering them with sensitivity and depth. We have done this on refugee policy, on government integrity, on robo-debt, on aged care, on climate change, on the pandemic.
All our journalism is fiercely independent. It relies on the support of readers. By subscribing to The Saturday Paper, you are ensuring that we can continue to produce essential, issue-defining coverage, to dig out stories that take time, to doggedly hold to account politicians and the political class.
There are very few titles that have the freedom and the space to produce journalism like this. In a country with a concentration of media ownership unlike anything else in the world, it is vitally important. Your subscription helps make it possible.
Select your digital subscription