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Christopher Booker: Political Earthquake Triggers Climate Policy Change Down Under

Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph

Something so extraordinary has lately been going on at the other end of the world that, if it did not run so flatly contrary to the prevailing groupthink of our time, it would surely have made big headlines over here.

We may have gathered that there has been something of an earthquake in the politics of Australia, where the prime minister Malcolm Turnbull faced such a revolt by his Cabinet colleagues over “climate change” that he was eventually forced out of office, to be replaced as leader by Scott Morrison.

But the real significance of this has only now come to light with the unveiling by Australia’s new energy minister, Angus Taylor, of the country’s wholly new energy policy, which completely reverses that of the Turnbull government.

Taylor has made it clear that he is not remotely interested in reducing Australia’s “carbon emissions”, or in pouring ever-larger subsidies into the wind farms which were one of the previous government’s chief obsessions. In recent years, he said, something had gone “terribly wrong” with Australia’s energy policy – which resulted in soaring electricity prices and power blackouts like the one which in September 2016 plunged South Australia into darkness, as the state which, more than any other bar Tasmania, had come to rely on wind turbines for its power.

From now on, said Mr Taylor, he would fix this “mess”, with “one aim only: to reduce power prices while keeping the lights on”. Instead of getting bogged down in ideological complexities, he said his overriding priority would be to end all subsidies to wind farms, and to use Australia’s vast coal reserves to ensure that it would once again draw its electricity from the cheapest, most reliable source.

The full ramifications of this complete policy U-turn, however, stretch far beyond Australia. For a start, coal is far from being as cheap as it was. On the international market, its cost in the past year has more than doubled, thanks to huge demand from China and other eastern countries which, to keep their economies growing, are building hundreds of new coal-fired power plants, as if the much-touted Paris climate “accord” had never happened. Hence President Trump’s decision to pull America out of it.

Following the US, Australia – whose biggest coal customer is China – has called the bluff of that delusion that a country can somehow replace fossil fuels with hopelessly weather-dependent renewables without doing irreparable damage to its economy.

It is already clear that few European countries, least of all Germany, have any prospect of meeting their crippling “CO2 reduction targets” set by the EU for 2020 and beyond. Sweden is another country where the unreliability of wind power now threatens the survival of its “green” pro-renewables energy policy.

All of which leaves Britain locked into this delusion more than any other country in the world, committed by the Climate Change Act to precisely the suicidal energy policy Australia has firmly rejected. In recent windless weeks, we have repeatedly been drawing more than half our electricity from the gas our Government wants to see phased out; while only one per cent or less was coming from the windmills which are costing us billions a year in subsidies. If only we had a single politician with Mr Taylor’s common sense to grasp the great black hole this is heading us for.

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