Kicking climate down the road

You’re probably aware of some who don't see the need to reduce emissions. They have a lot of different reasons or excuses for the position, including the current systems have served us well in the past, we’re only a small population so our changes won’t mean much or just a general reluctance to consider the future. These people typically will not like Dr Saul Griffin who is Australian, an adviser to the current US President and a global advocate for net zero emissions using a really simple process — electrify everything.

Dr Griffin claims
The general idea is to replace technologies that still run on combustion with alternatives that run on renewable electricity: swap petrol cars for electric vehicles (EVs) and gas heaters with reverse-cycle air conditioners.

By electrifying everything that can be electrified, Australia could cut its emissions by 80 per cent by 2035, according to credible estimates.

And it wouldn't need to invent any new technology to do this.
And how does Dr Griffin believe we generate the power for this transformation?
The main reasons Australia has an advantage in electrification is its geography and relatively small population, Dr Griffith said.

"We have the best solar resources, we have the best wind resources, we have a giant landmass so we can produce copious quantities or renewable energy — more than we need for ourselves.

"Our giant houses have very large roofs … we can generate enormous amounts of our residential and even our transportation loads off our own rooftops.”
While the Government’s 43% emissions reduction by 2030 is far better than the former Coalition Government’s 26% to 28%, clearly it’s not that hard to do better.

So now you’re thinking if it’s that easy to get to net zero emissions, we could have done it years ago. The companies that supply the items needed to get to net zero should just get their act together and have the right products available for sale. Sadly, it’s not that easy and that’s where the politics comes in. The ‘right products’ are in high demand.

Volkswagen’s Australian General Manager claimed in 2021 that the company sold 212,000 electric vehicles across the world in 2020.
Volkswagen didn't ship any EVs to Australia in 2020, despite many Australians asking to buy them, said Michael Bartsch, general manager of Volkswagen Group Australia.

"There isn't a day go by where we're not answering a query on when we'll be able to supply an electric vehicle in Australia," he said.

So why not meet this demand?

Because his global head office, located in Germany, won't agree to it, Mr Bartsch said.

"Australia has some of the most lax environmental standards in the world.

"We are a Third World dumping ground in terms of automotive technology.

"We'll put those cars where we get the biggest commercial advantage, and the biggest commercial advantage of the moment, when you overlay the fines for not achieving the CO2 targets, is Europe."
Fair enough too. If Volkswagen would be fined, it’s logical to expect that every other vehicle manufacturer that supplied cars to Europe would be in the same position. Volkswagen aren’t the only ones ‘making adjustments’ for our pathetic environmental record over the last decade, Hyundai Australia effectively conducts a raffle for the right to purchase one of their pre-configured new design electric vehicles while you will apparently be waiting for years for Kia’s version of the same car.

The leaders of the former Australian Government at the time were claiming that if sales of emissions intensive utility vehicles fall, the weekend would be ruined, or more disingenuously that there are no electric utility vehicles manufactured anywhere in the world. Why would Volkswagen and others attempt to sell ‘in demand’ electric vehicles in Australia (where the government of the day didn’t give a toss) while being fined for not selling enough electric vehicles in regions that are taking emissions reduction far more seriously?

According to The Guardian
In 2014, the Climate Change Authority recommended Australia adopt standards to reduce emissions intensity of cars. It failed to do so, and became an outlier, with countries representing 80% of the global market opting to impose such standards.

In 2018, the average emissions intensity for new passenger vehicles in Australia was 169.8 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, compared to 129.9 in the United States, 120.4 in Europe and 114.6 in Japan.
Clearly this was seen as another attack on ‘the weekend’ by the former government and nothing was ever done about it, except for some ‘promises’ around tightening fuel standards in 2027, which the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government never got around to legislating (unlike the ‘Stage 3’ tax cuts). When the lack of fuel standards and emissions regulations are considered, the statement of Volkswagen’s Michael Bartsch is even more telling. Apart from Russia, Australia is the only country in the OECD that doesn’t have fuel efficiency standards. The Australia Institute released a report in August 2022 that
shows that $5.9 billion in fuel costs would have been saved and emissions equivalent to a year’s worth of domestic flights would have been avoided, if robust fuel efficiency standards were adopted in 2015.
At the same time, Australian Governments are actively subsidising fuel companies. The Conversation reported recently
Australia spends billions each year giving subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, despite our climate change commitments. The Australia Institute estimates that in the 2021-22 budget period, Australian federal and state governments’ total fossil fuel subsidies cost A$11.6 billion. That’s up $1.3 billion on the previous year.
Yet there are claims by the climate change skeptics that financial support to increase the uptake of electric vehicles should not be allowed.

Logically those that are arguing for no change are in a difficult place. The petrol pump was only invented around 100 years ago, some time after motor vehicles were introduced. A lot of people who had forged a career in looking after horses and carts had to re-skill. Prior to the advent of the motor car and suitable roads (which arguably have yet to arrive in parts of Australia), the way to ‘get away’ was to catch a train or walk, not jump into your car and drive for hundreds of miles. To seriously suggest that generations of families have hooked up the caravan or boat behind the oversized Tonka truck and driven for 500 miles without stopping as some politicians and climate change skeptics have attempted to do is ridiculous. It’s even more ridiculous when it suggested that the caravan is hooked up every weekend.

Albanese’s ALP Government is at least doing something to prepare for our inevitable future, unlike the Coalition Governments of the past decade who realistically did nothing except wreck a perfectly good emission trading scheme. Whether the government is acting fast enough is a discussion for another day, however faster is apparently possible. All kicking emissions reduction down the road has really done is ensured we gained a reputation of being seriously out of step with the majority of the world, we are worse off economically and we’ll have to work harder and cut emissions faster to get back on track.

What do you think?

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