As the world hits its hottest week on record Australia’s Opposition leader is set to today front secretive US-style dark money lobby group the “Institute of Public Affairs” and rail against renewable energy.
In a written speech his office handed to multiple news outlets in advance, Peter Dutton campaigns for “nuclear micro-reactors” to produce electricity despite that technology being up to nine times more expensive than renewables.
“If the government wants to stop coal-fired power and phase out gas-fired power, the only feasible and proven technology which can firm up renewables and help us achieve the goals of clean, cost-effective and consistent power is next-generation nuclear technologies, which are safe and emit zero emissions,” Dutton’s speech reportedly says.
“Namely, small modular reactors or ‘SMR’s’. And micro reactors or micro modular reactors – MMR’s”.
That’s despite those “next-generation nuclear technologies” not being proven in any cost-effective form; and that there are existing feasible, proven and vastly cheaper technologies to firm up renewables in the form of mega-batteries and pumped-hydro, all of which are safe and emit zero emissions.
It’s also despite Australia having among the world’s best conditions for wind and solar energy – and the price of those renewables continuing to plummet.
In a speech full of false claims and riddled with anti-renewable energy talking points pushed by the fossil fuels industry, Dutton calls for taxpayers to fund research of the nuclear micro-reactors, which experts say are a decade away from being viable, if ever.
The fossil fuels industry in Australia heavily uses proxies including the “IPA” — of which it is a major financial backer — and media outlets such as “Sky News”, Australia’s least trusted media outlet according to a poll by Roy Morgan last year, to attack renewables and undermine action on climate change.
The success of those fossil fuels industry attacks has been greatly magnified by Australia having one of the most highly concentrated media outlets in the world, with successive Federal Governments watering-down ownership laws in return for temporarily positive coverage from media moguls.
The billions of dollars the fossil fuels sector makes each year from digging up and burning coal is set to decline as nations switch to renewables to reduce the worst effects of climate change, already worse than many scientists have predicted.
For many years the attacks took the form of outright climate change denial.
The campaign for nuclear “micro-reactors” – despite the technology being unproven in any economically viable sense – is the latest front in the campaign to slow the transition to renewable energy.
“The most recent front of the attacks is the campaign for nuclear micro-reactors”
It includes lobbying for taxpayer funds for nuclear “micro-reactor” research, which would likely divert funds substantial funds from expanding the nation’s solar and wind sector, while also tying up the climate conversation with misinformation.
Helping to delay climate action, the fossil fuel industry has for more than two decades been pushing for sham coal technology called “carbon capture and storage” (CCS), which has never been, and likely will never be, commercially viable.
That’s despite the Australian Government alone giving fossil fuel companies billions of dollars to “research” and “advance” the sham technology.
Many of the same newspapers that have for more than two decades been spruiking the sham CCS technology are now spruiking the sham nuclear technology.
They include those of News Corporation, which in addition to owning broadcaster Sky News, owns around two-thirds of Australian newspapers by readership.
In the speech, as well as calling for taxpayers to fund research of the nuclear micro-reactors, Dutton suggests his nuclear “micro-reactors” should be built in Australia’s suburbs and towns – and even next to hospitals.
The Opposition leader reportedly argues renewable energy generation often occurs away from populated areas, and so requires “transmission poles and wires” – whereas his nuclear micro-reactors could be built in residential areas.
“A single SMR can power 300,000 homes. A micro-reactor could power a hospital, a factory, a mining site or a military base,’ his speech reportedly says.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton, attacking renewable energy. Source: ABC News, Dave Sciasci
Dutton falsely claims the Federal Government has a “renewables only mentality” (although it continues to expand heavily into fossil gas and is even approving new coal mines) and says it has a “renewable zealotry”, although he fails to provide any evidence to back the claim.
“The government is not being technologically agnostic or objective. On the contrary, its ‘renewables only’ mentality – its renewable zealotry – is putting our nation at risk,” his speech reportedly says.
The world is experiencing the hottest week on record, with the global average temperature breaking its historical record on Monday – and broken again on Tuesday.
Yesterday the global average temperature matched Monday’s.
Global heating is being caused by burning fossil fuels including coal, gas, and oil.
“Global heating is being caused by burning fossil fuels including coal, gas, and oil”
In his speech Dutton reportedly argues for the mini nuclear reactors on the grounds some components involved in renewables come from China.
Yet rather than advocating for the expansion of Australia’s solar and wind industry expertise, Dutton’s Coalition is pushing for tech that is at least a decade away.
“In the Albanese government’s massive rollout of renewables, it is inevitable we will become heavily reliant on the Chinese market,” the speech reportedly says.
Dutton has provided no evidence that it was “inevitable” that Australia, which has some of the world’s biggest deposits of the raw materials required to produce renewable energy infrastructure, would “become heavily reliant on the Chinese market”.
Dutton will reportedly deliver his speech to the “IPA” this morning.
The Klaxon has been asking the lobby group to disclose who funds it since December 2021 – but it has consistently refused to do so.
It has previously emerged that the fossil fuels sector is a major funder of the secretive lobby group, including receiving large amounts of money behind-the-scenes from Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart.
The Opposition leader will reportedly push for Australia to remove its legislative ban on nuclear power in his speech.
Dutton has to date provided no explanation as to why his Coalition Government, which was in power for nine years until May last year, had failed to do so if it considered it important.
“At the very least, I think the government should consider working swiftly to alter the legislative prohibitions to SMRs and MMRs so we do not position Australia as a nuclear energy pariah,” Dutton’s speech reportedly says.
Under the Federal Coalition, of which Dutton was at all times a senior member, Australia became a climate pariah on the globe stage, after ripping up a price on carbon pollution, cutting funding to renewables, and for years attempting to force the nation’s clean energy vehicle, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), to invest in coal and gas against its legislation.
“Dutton’s pitch comes just days before the Liberal National party in Queensland holds its state conference, where delegates are expected to propose several pro-nuclear resolutions,” Guardian Australia reports.
“He is likely to find a receptive audience for the message at the IPA, given that the think-tank’s executive director, Scott Hargreaves, has publicly called for the scrapping of all subsidies for renewable energy and also urged political leaders to ‘hit the pause button on our headlong rush towards reliance on greater renewable energy’,” it reports.
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