2020

The 2020 summit kept me too busy to blog. Looking back on the weekend I have a range of impressions.

* Rudd’s opening speech was inspiring, one of the best I’ve heard from him. The same was true of the opening ceremony as a whole.

* As numerous speakers said, the sense of new possibilities and a new openness to ideas has been one of the striking outcomes of the change of government, to an extent that has certainly surprised me.

* In many areas, including the water and climate change sessions, the real message was not so much the need for new ideas (though there were some good ones) but the need to act much more urgently on what we already know

* From the government’s point of view, the Summit had a couple of effects. One was to shake up the policy agenda, giving Rudd the chance to pick up a lot of ideas that are broadly consistent with Labor’s policy platform but got crowded out of discussion in the course of me-too election campaigning. The other is to raise expectations that the government will actually achieve things in areas like climate change and indigenous policy, rather than putting a better spin on marginal changes to the policies inherited from Howard.

* It was already obvious that, with Howard gone, and Labor in office, the Republic issue would return to the agenda. It’s something we have to come to anyway, and is just awaiting the right mood of national optimism. To sustain what is bound to be a fairly lengthy debate, we need more than the natural optimism of an electoral honeymoon. For that reason, I hope, and expect, that concrete moves towards a Republic will be deferred for a while, until the government has some concrete achievements to celebrate.

77 thoughts on “2020

  1. gordon #72: Yes, I’ve banged on here (and at other blogs) about the cheap, dirty electricity supplied to smelters etc. The consensus response was that they’d only move overseas and use cheap, dirty Chinese electricity.

    I’m all for hitting industry first with increased energy costs. I don’t know why the politicians are talking about hurting private citizens (read: voters) with higher electricity prices when they could close a few smelters and meet all their emissions targets with one stroke.

  2. Quick science lesson:

    coal combustion (for electric power) burns coal (mostly C, with some water, hydrogen, and sulfur) in air, to produce a mix of CO2, N2, SO2, H2O and various other pollutants from partial combustion.

    In smelting, coking coal is first purified to make coke- carbon with very little else in it. This is then reacted with an oxide (iron oxide, zinc oxide, lead oxide, etc) in the following reaction (using iron as an example)

    Fe2O3 + 3C -> 3CO (carbon monoxide) + 2Fe.

    Traditionally, that carbon monoxide is generally burned in air to produce CO2 and energy. But because smelting is an air-free process, the carbon monoxide you produce could be neutralized in other ways and/or sequestered much more easily than the exhaust from coal combustion.

    This simply requires the price of carbon to be high enough to pay for the sequestration.

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