Energy and the Earth

Energy and the Earth

The Turnbull of old

For the Turnbull of old, could a picture be worth a thousand words?

“Climate change is the ultimate long-term problem. We have to make decisions today, bear costs today so that adverse consequences are avoided, dangerous consequences, many decades into the future.” Malcolm Turnbull, February 9th, 2010

Plainly stated, Mr Turnbull … really not that many decades.

(Not that) many decades. NASA’s GISTEMP global temperature anomaly for the last 40 years (coloured lines), together with a re-projection for the next 40 years (black line). The anomaly is measured by month as a departure from the 1951-1980 average. The current trend implies that in about 40 years we should expect to experience El Nino events with global temperature anomalies in excess of +2°C, considered to be in the dangerous realm. The colours map Australian federal election outcomes. Data sourced from NASA.

“Plainly stated: in the absence of a clear carbon price signal either no investments will be made or investments will be made of new carbon-intensive infrastructure because they are more profitable in a world where there is no price on carbon.” Malcolm Turnbull

Plainly stated, Mr Turnbull … and indeed (almost) no investments were made.

(Almost) no investments were made. Two images, each showing how electricity dispatch maps between fuel types and regions on Australia’s National Energy Market for the month of April in 2011, on the left, and April 2016, on the right. Despite a modest increase in wind, and a very modest amount of new solar, the two images illustrate just how little change there has been in the proportion of Carbon intensive dispatch on our grid over the last 5 years. Units are in megawatts, colours are by fuel type. Data sourced from AEMO.

“But it is not enough to say you support these cuts, you must also deliver a strong, credible policy framework that will deliver them.” Malcolm Turnbull

Plainly stated, Mr Turnbull … price signals do work.

Price signals work. Emissions in million tonnes of CO2e by financial year, for electrical power dispatch onto the Victorian grid. Of the many stories this image tells, the most important one is how adept markets are at responding to price signals and the policy settings that surround them. In Victoria, the carbon tax price signal was accompanied by a ~10% decline in electricity sector emissions. Data sourced from AEMO.