New chair of Liberal enviro committee wants to kill renewables

Craig Kelly MHR Hughes NSW Liberal Official Portrait 9/9/2010 file no 10456The thing about labeling yourself a ‘climate sceptic’ is that you makes you believe that you are somehow putting your vague thoughts on a par with actual facts and science; and once you start down that road, there’s no end in sight. If you want evidence of that in action take a look at Craig Kelly, the new Liberal chairman of the Coalition’s environment policy committee.

Kelly proudly labels himself a climate sceptic rather than “wallow in groupthink, to be a sheep, or a lemming”. That scepticism leads him to the conclusion that solar and wind-power should not be funded because they are “on periphery and having so little effect”. Now it may be somewhat true that solar and windpower are not having a huge impact in Australia – [insert shouty voice here] but that’s because we don’t fund them!

Around the world countries with far less space than us and far less sun than us have significant proportions of their electricity generation coming from wind and solar power. There are now 20 countries around the world with a cumulative solar capacity of more than one gigawatt. Thailand, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, all crossed the one gigawatt-mark in 2014. The available solar capacity in Italy, Germany, and Greece is now sufficient to supply between 7% and 8% of their respective domestic electricity consumption. Germany has days when almost all its power comes from renewable energy. But, hey, let’s not let facts get in the way of a good solid opinion.

Then there’s wind power which Kelly has a long history of opposing. Denmark has almost 40% of its power coming from the wind; over 20% of Spain’s power consumption is few by windpower. That’s hardly peripheral.

These renewable energy figures have all been pushing upward dramatically in the last few years in countries that have committed to making changes. It is only remotely arguable that they are on the periphery here in Australia because we have not committed in any useful way.

A few years ago Kelly was arguing for taking funding from renewable energy resources and putting it into ‘critical social needs’. Now he’s arguing for removing funding and spending it on research into some breakthrough technology that will solve everything (cold fusion anyone?). Or put another way he is arguing that we should actively discourage a viable present solution and instead we should go on burning coal until a miracle saves us.

Look, calling yourself a ‘climate sceptic’ should not cloak your views in any veneer of respectability. If your views are running against the overwhelming weight of fact, of science, and of good sense that does not make you some crusader for right when everyone else is being a sheep – it makes you a fool.

I don’t know what’s more horrifying: that Kelly can hold these views; or that, knowing he holds them, the Liberal party put him in charge of the environment policy committee.

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