Experts disappointed by the Government’s climate and energy roadmap

Plumes of smoke from a coal-fired power station.
25 May 2020

The roadmap, released on Thursday, sets out how the government intends to progress climate and energy policy between now and 2050. It identifies more than 140 technologies that could be useful in the short-, medium- and long-term, but it does not set a target on reducing emissions by 2050.

It suggests a move away from coal-fired power, and towards gas and pumped hydrogen as the energy sources of choice to back-up renewable power generation over the next decade.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) was also flagged as playing an important role in controlling emissions. Other options listed include small-scale nuclear power generation, although the report recognises cost, social and environmental concerns, and the government has signalled its intention to invest in electric vehicles and batteries.

Energy roadmap is a “disappointment”

The coalition government has long been criticised by scientists for a lack of concrete policies around climate change and energy, so does the roadmap answer these criticisms?

Griffith University’s Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe describes the report as “a disappointment”, suggesting the government has used “creative accounting” to come to the conclusion that renewable energy is not yet competitive.

“In fact, the 2018 CSIRO/AEMO study found that solar and wind are much cheaper than new coal or gas power, even with enough storage to make them firm capacity,” he says.

RMIT’s Alan Pears says he also believes it’s a failure: “Its focus on fossil fuels and large-scale energy supply and storage systems is flawed,” he says.

And UQ’s Professor John Quiggin agrees: “The government’s thinking remains five to ten years behind the times,” he told the Centre.

Read the full article on the Australia's Science Channel website, featuring commentary by Prof Frank Jotzo