Australia OK’s Biggest Coal Mine, UK Dismantles Renewable Energy

As we reported on the fact that catastrophic sea level rise is close to being locked in – and that only by peaking emissions by 2020, do we have a chance of halting it – we learned:

Australia Gives Go-Ahead to Gigantic Coal Mine

After a court struck down Australia’s plans to build its largest coal mine, the government approved construction again after meeting the judge’s ruling. Most of the 60 million tons of coal extracted each year at Carmichael Coal Mine will be shipped to India – by passing close to the Great Barrier Reef.

The mine would double Australia’s coal exports, overtaking Indonesia as the world’s biggest coal exporter. Former Prime Minister Abbot paved the way by repealing the mining tax, and after the court’s ruling, he repealed the law that allows citizens to challenge large developments in court.

Australia Carmichael Coal Mine

But 14 major banks have declined to finance the $16.5 billion project, and there are no willing investors, Shani Tager at Greenpeace told Carbon Pulse. “And that’s not surprising because it fails the triple bottom line – it would be an environmental disaster for the climate and the Great Barrier Reef, it would not make a profit, and it does not have social licence from the community.”

Read our article, Ousted: Australia’s Anti-Environment Prime Minister.

Meanwhile in the UK

Before this year’s national election in the UK, we were impressed when the three major parties released a statement pledging to work together on climate change, regardless of which party wins the next election.

Well, the conservatives won, and since then they have been dismantling every green program and subsidy for renewable energy, while bolstering them for nuclear and offshore oil. So far, three solar companies have gone belly up, taking over 1000 jobs with them. 27,000 jobs are in danger.

A few highlights:

  • no more subsidies for onshore wind or solar projects as of April, 2016
  • 90% cut in the feed-in tariff for generating power from  rooftop solar starting next year
  • a likely end to renewable energy auctions for contracts, while charging climate levies on renewable energy plants
  • sell off most of the Green Bank, which funds renewables projects
  • scraps policy for all new homes to be net-zero energy starting next year
  • ends its “transformational” program to retrofit homes for energy efficiency
  • ends the policy of waiving or reducing taxes on low emission vehicles
  • opening half of Britain to fracking – including its most important natural areas – and streamlining the permit process
  • subsidizing nuclear and oil extraction in the North Sea. With the Hinkley Point nuclear plant approved, ratepayers are stuck paying £4.4 billion – £20 billion in subsidies because the government guarantees double the market price of electricity!
  • pushing for watered-down air pollution laws in the EU

, where the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset will cost electricity customers at least £4.4bn in subsidies. “They are cutting down on solar, PV [photovoltaics], purportedly for cost reasons, while on the other hand they pledge to guarantee the nuclear industry and energy price twice the market price for the next 30 years. That’s crazy.”

Many of these programs made Britain a leader on tacking climate change, but no more. These “illogical” policy changes have resulted in billions of dollars in cancelled renewable energy projects and investments. RWE scrapped nine onshore wind projects in England, for example. “Investors are worried about investing in the whole UK energy market, it’s not even just in the renewables space,” Mike Parker, head of onshore wind at RWE Innogy UK, told Financial Times.

Because of this, Ernst & Young dropped the UK from #8 to #11 on its annual list of the most attractive countries for renewable energy investment. The new Conservative government is sentencing the renewable energy industry to “death by a thousand cuts,” collapsing investor confidence, they say.

In September, Prime Minister Cameron appointed a former oil and gas consultant as his key adviser on energy and environmental policy.

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