Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Essential – South Australia blackout findings

The lights had not even come back on in South Australia after the freak storm that blacked out the state last month when the latest front in the climate wars was breaking out.

The pushback against the state’s 41% reliance on renewables, notably wind farms, has attracted a gumbo of opportunists seeking to push their particular carbon barrows.

There was the federal energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, attempting to justify his less-than ambitious renewable energy target, there was the king of South Australian populism, Nick Xenophon, jumping on the nearest bandwagon and there was the deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, who just hates wind farms.

Analysis South Australia's blackout explained (and no, renewables aren't to blame)
Some wrongly implicated windfarms when the entire state lost power after one of the worst storms in 50 years knocked out high-voltage power pylons

Close behind them and was the peak industry group, ACCI, calling for an independent review of the state’s energy mix while rightwing shock jocks across the nation took up the opportunity to move beyond the increasingly settled debate on climate science to find a new target for their vitriol.

And presiding over it all was a prime minister who appears to have ceased to even realise when he is trashing his own political integrity.

If it all looked like a pre-prepared and coordinated campaign by the Coal Club, that’s because it probably was.

Essential has been following the issue over recent weeks to monitor whether the SA blackouts have the capacity to spark another climate panic, not so much the Big New Tax On Everything, as much as the Big Black Out.

The short answer is that the public isn’t buying the renewable panic.

A quarter of Coalition voters reject the experts and see a causal relationship that even the prime minister and his energy minister didn’t really assert. But the 60% figure who don’t represents a significant rebuff. 

And those findings are reflected in broader attitudes towards renewables – when asked to choose between threat or solution, the signals are clear if not unanimous.

So if renewables are popular with the public, have not been blamed for the blackout by any authoritative source and, by definition are better for the environment, where is all the vitriol coming from?

No comments: