1. Adam Thyer
  2. Government Policy
  3. Saturday, 16 May 2020
Hi All

I just finished some interesting reading about the economic viability of wind and solar energy. It included this report about the plummeting cost of solar, this story about the falling cost of already inexpensive wind power, and this article about what reductions in energy storage costs would be needed to pivot to 100% renewable. All of these documents pointed to a relatively near future in which a mix of wind + solar + storage + flexible grids would be cheaper than fossil fuels.

However, none of these documents mentioned that the financial battle between dirty and clean energy is not taking place on a level playing field. According to the IMF, governments spent $5.2 trillion on fossil fuel subsidies worldwide in 2017, amounting to 6.4 percent of the global gross domestic product. Furthermore, there's also an enormous security cost associate with fossil fuels. For example, the US spends $81 billion a year protecting oil supplies.

I would love to see a cost comparison between renewables and fossil fuels with all subsidies removed, a meaningful carbon tax applied, and security costs factored in. I'm only guessing, but strongly suspect that on this level playing field, renewables plus storage would already be a much more affordable energy source than fossil fuels.

What can we do to persuade governments to create a level playing field?
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Hi Adam Thyer

In Australia, the fossil fuel industry is literally part of Liberal National Coalition (currently in government). Numerous former fossil fuel executives are ministerial advisors and when politicians retire, they often go to work for fossil fuel companies. Fossil fuel companies are also major political donors to both major parties. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Murdoch Press, which owns the majority of Australian newspapers, is hugely pro-fossil-fuel and anti-renewables.

Watch this video to learn about the incestuous relationship between Australian coal and politics:

  1. more than a month ago
  2. Government Policy
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Hi James Miller

I'm Australian too. So sadly, I am very familiar with the links between the fossil fuel industry and Australian governments. A similar problem seems to exist in the United States and Canada. Furthermore, I strongly suspect that this problem exists in most countries with significant reserves of fossil fuels (can anyone confirm this?).

I have long held the opinion that laws regarding campaign finance and political corruption need to be reformed in order to free governments from control by powerful lobby groups. I wonder if others agree that this is the most important thing that needs to happen? If so, how do we make it happen? If not, what's the solution?
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Government Policy
  3. # 2
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
BTW, I'm a big fan of of the independent journalism of Michael West who made the video that you linked to above with Chris Phillips and and Greenpeace Australia Pacific's Kim Paul Nguyen.
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Government Policy
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The US Government is apparently about to gift up to $750 billion to Big Oil as part of its coronavirus stimulus package. This is in addition to existing subsidies.

Imagine if this money had been allocated to renewable energy instead.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Government Policy
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Jane Nester, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity being squandered :(

Meanwhile, the Australian Government wants to stimulate the economy by expanding the natural gas industry.

FYI, Australia is already the World's largest exporter of both natural gas and coal!
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Government Policy
  3. # 5
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I agree with Adam Thyer that it's important to prevent fossil fuel companies and other lobbyists from buying political support. However, this is not easy to solve because it requires politicians to remove their snouts from the feed trough. In many cases, the link is so strong that politicians fear they would not be re-elected if they opposed the fossil fuel lobby.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Government Policy
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I guess the reality is that we don't have a level playing field, and until we do, we need to make whatever progress we can under the existing economic circumstances.

Currently, one of the greatest opportunities is in power generation. According to a report by Carbon Tracker, it is already cheaper to generate electricity from new renewables than from new coal plants in all major markets.

I believe that it is critically important to inform the public that renewables will result in cheaper electricity bills. It is also important that they understand that backing new coal mines and coal power stations will waste hundreds of billions of dollars. If voters understand that using coal power will result in more expensive electrical bills, they are much more likely to support renewables and less likely to support politicians who are puppets of the fossil fuel industry.
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Government Policy
  3. # 7
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
This report presents the case for a "subsidy swap"—reallocating some of the savings from fossil fuel subsidy reform to fund the clean energy transition. It also shares examples of four countries—India, Indonesia, Zambia and Morocco—that have already been taking concrete action and leading the way by implementing fossil fuel to clean energy swaps.
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