Buying out brown coal

Today’s Fin (paywalled) leads with a story that the foreign owners of brown coal power plants are demanding that, instead of receiving compensation over time for the effects of the ETS, they should be paid a lump sum, in the billions of dollars, to shut down the plants. Given that compensation is to be paid, it is impossible for me to disagree with this. The whole point of the ETS is to reduce pollution, and that can’t be done effectively if major polluters receive payments that are conditional on continuing polluting activities.

But should they receive compensation. These plants were all in public ownership in 1992, when the Australian government first committed to reducing CO2 emissions (subject to the findings of the then-new IPCC). When Jeff Kennett sold them, the original buyers ought to have known they were taking a commercial risk regarding possible limits on emissions. Most of the current owners bought even later, after Australia had participated in the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol.

The people who should be getting compensation are not investors who made bad bets, but the workers and communities who pay the price for their bad decisions. More on this in this paper with Flavio Menezes and Liam Wagner.

95 thoughts on “Buying out brown coal

  1. The owners could plausibly argue that it was not until early 2007, when John Howard got his committee to write about how emissions might be curtailed and traded, that the Australian Government showed the slightest interest in seriously cutting back on emissions. Indeed, until then, the then Government was, it could be argued, firmly in the camp of those who denied that there is a problem to address (notwithstanding the existence of marginalised government bodies like the Australian Greenhouse Office.)

    Indeed, when the States, in the mid 2000s, began to talk about setting up a state-based emissions reduction and trading scheme, they got nothing but grief and hostility from the Howard Government.

  2. Couldn’t agree more with this perspective. It beggars belief that multi-billion dollar investments in brown coal power were made without careful thought being given to the risk of CO2 emissions limits being imposed. If that risk wasn’t adequately priced by the buyers, too bad for those whose job it was to price the risk correctly. Why should taxpayer end up with the risk all over again? Or have I missed something?

  3. Of course, power station buyers were always free to negotiate indemnities from the State government sellers to cover this risk, just as they sought indemnities on a range of other policy change issues such as tax changes and the like. Again, if the buyers were too careless to negotiate such clauses back then, why should they be given ex gratia billions now?

  4. Uncle M, your chronology is incorrect. Howard seemed willing enough to go along with Kyoto until Bush got in. So, the best you could say for the power companies is that, from 2001 to 2007 their bet looked like paying off. But if I could get my stake refunded for every Melbourne Cup where my horse was in front after 800 metres, I would be a much more successful (and keener) punter.

  5. John, thanks for the reminder about the Bush connection. But to be precise, Howard didn’t change his mind when Bush got in. He changed it on September 12 2001 when he met with Bush in the White House and Bush got him to commit to not ratifying Kyoto. (How could Howard have refused that simple request on that of all days?) Howard unfortunately forgot to tell anybody, including his own Cabinet, for months afterwards that he made this commitment to Bush, much to the chagrin of his environment minister, David Kemp, who told the House of Representatives that the Government was on track to ratify Kyoto on the same day that Howard promised Bush that it wouldn’t.

  6. And quite apart from the issue of radiative forcing from CO2 coal plants are filthy in a more general sense:

    US coal plants with scrubbers poison waterways instead of the skies

    Now that should always have been illegal …

    Are ours hear different? Well we largely use different low-sulphur coal so we don’t use scrubbers but one way or another, that crap has to go someplace.

    Isn’t it interesting what “the market” does when human welfare and the commons more generally is zero rated?

  7. The counterclaim should be that the generators knew they were disseminating an unhealthy product for some years and should pay compensation. Better call it evens and be grateful they are not locked in like James Hardie and asbestos. The question of standards of the time is a grey area as it applies to issues like forced adoption of aboriginal children. Maybe it wouldn’t be done now but at the time it was considered correct.

    A second difficulty is that emissions trading is supposed to lead to incremental changes, not the holus bolus retirement of an entire industry. The only thing that could replace the big Victorian brown coal plants would be $5bn nuclear stations. That could actually make the big Gippsland desalination plant cheaper to run by using waste heat. However I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

  8. The Garnaut report claims that most brown coal power stations will be operating in Australia in 2020 even with an ETS. The alternative options for generating electricity are just not there so generation technologies in this sector will change gradually. I strongly disagree with any compensations for the power generators. They provide a non-internationally traded good which is consumed locally. The price of electricity should rise until nuclear or renewable technologies are induced to replace coal and consumers will need to face these higher prices. The price rise and a sensible carbon price are important information in thinking about new technologies. Note too that under current plans the income compensations consumers receive from revenues yielded by auctioning off quotas mean that, at least, only the substitution effects of such changes will impact on them.

    The ETS should be directed at local carbon-based electricity consumption. If we start getting sensitive about this then we are just not serious about cutting emissions.

    I think the failure to think carefully about alternatives to dirty coal other than CCS is another instance of lack of seriousness. Most coal-based power should be replaced over the next 30 years by nuclear power stations and we should be preparing for this now by establishing programs in nuclear engineering in the universities and by working hard to dispel ridiculous green movement fantasies about a technology that yields almost no carbon or any other pollutants and which is a dimension safer than coal.

  9. HC, it’s good to see a nuclear power advocate recognising that we are talking about a 30 year timeframe here. I’d add that, even assuming everything pans out well for nuclear, we are unlikely to start construction of power plants in Australia before 2020. Rather than shadow-boxing over this long-term option, we should be watching carefully to see how the “nuclear renaissance” in the US proceeds. My reading at the moment is that it isn’t going very well, but we don’t need to speculate – time will tell. (of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate – this is a blog after all).

  10. I speculate that the politics of nuclear power will remain impossible in the lifetime of any reader of this blog.

  11. A more general point

    Worldwide how many Coal plants do we need to be closing to make the sort of inroads needed on CO2. Forgetting the bet that individual investors may have taken, what sort of hit does the world economy take when perhaps Trillions of USD of capital losses are forced into the system by the actions we need to be taking.

  12. Shutting down brown coal plants is desirable and society needs to provide compensation.

    Workers need jobs and do not judge risks when seeking employment (within their training and skills). They just apply for jobs in general.

    It should be part of our so-called ‘social contract’ for all taxpayers to share the burden of this economic adjustment.

    Like it or not, many retirees rely on polluting companies’ dividends for their retirement incomes. They have the same claim for compensation as workers.

    So society should provide at least this type of compensation on a strict means tested basis so noone is unnecessarily thrown into poverty through industrial ecological adjustment.

    However Australia should not compensate commercial investors as this would burden the taxpayer unnecessarily and would involve compensating for private risky investment decisions.

  13. Uncle Milton the opinion polls show a slight majority of Australians interested in considering nuclear power as an option. This follows decades of Labor Party distortion and irrationality on this issue – e.g. the only recently rescinded “Three Mines Policy” – uranium from one hole is clean and OK but elsewhere it would be dirty.

    I think you are overly pessimistic. Ordinary Australians often display more intelligence than our political leaders.

    In 2004 France generated slightly less than 80% of its electricity using nuclear power. France emitted about 9.3 tonnes of CO2 per head in 2003. Australia that year emitted 26.1 tonnes of CO2. Nicholas Stern argues that the world needs to reduce its aggregate carbon emissions from 50 mega-tonnes now to less than 20 mega-tonnes by 2050 to avoid more than 2oC of warming. Which developed countries will face the large adjustment costs?

    One can be more specific. Stern’s required per capita emission level globally in 2050 works out to be 2.2 tonnes per person (taking 2050 world population to the 9.1 billion). To achieve this the French must cut their current emissions to a bit less than one quarter of current levels. Australian’s need to cut their emissions to about one twelfth of current levels to hit this target!

    Sensible GGE targets are not going to be easy to hit. Are we to put all our faith in CCS, in photovoltaics and in wind farms?

  14. The corporate capitalists made a well justified assessment that they could continue with business as usual. They knew that the politicians could always be bought with donations while in power and promises to parachute them into board positions afterwards.

    The corporates know that billions in public money will always be made available to compensate them and further swell profits. Every crisis of our current system becomes another pretext to transfer further wealth to the corporates. They are gaming the entire economic system. The thing they don’t understand (yet) is that nobody can game the laws of physics and the limits of the natural world.

  15. Let’s see how many nuclear power stations we need after we’ve got our first solar thermal power station up and running.

  16. Where have you people been? These are YOUR power stations not THEIRS, particularly those in the La Trobe Valley which produce around 25% of YOUR power needs. Currently with all the ignorance in Canberra and out their in voterland, they are worthless loans by YOUR banks and the moment carbon caps are introduced that will become bleeding obvious. Currently their administrators(double entendre intended) are running them down because of their impending/current worthlessness and any forseeable lack of return on ANYONE’S hard-earned. In fact the directors of the energy companies would be prosecuted for enticing anyone to sink any of their hard-earned into them at present in any touting prospectus. You could no doubt sue them for false advertising if they did but perhaps the KGB can best give you the wake-up call by googling “Lessons from Latrobe Valley” (follow Gottliebsen’s earlier linked warnings and articles too in his ongoing Business Spectator saga) Oh and buy yourself a backup generator before the price rise, not to mention the ongoing need to fund more of YOUR bank bailouts, an overall problem Glenn Stevens is really starting to rumble on about in earnest you’ll notice. Relax Glenn, Helicopter Ben will save us all!

  17. I think the case for compensation varies. All should have factored the risk in. Eastern europe was closing down these sort of plants in the early 90s. One, Hazlewood is 30 years old and was only permitted to 2009 when sold, until Brumby extended the operating permit in 2007(?)

    I don’t agree that they can only be replaced by nucear. This assumes that any new plant must be in the La Trobe area. Not true. Just build a decent inter-state grid and a range of alternatives – wind, gas or black coal – are pssible. With a high capacity transmission line losses are only about 1% per 100km.

  18. I wonder if this is blackmail (with a nod from Brumby) to get an indefinite extension of free permits under the ETS. Melbourne will need desalination for a third of its water supplies, supposedly offset by wind power, while BoM predicts regular summer temperatures of 50C (when wind power will be low). As to non-nuclear alternatives look how Spain and Germany are faring. Gas fired generation would save more than 50% the CO2 of brown coal but long run the gas may have to come from WA, a point anticipated by Rex Connor 30 years ago. I think regardless of Copenhagen resolutions the brown coal plants will still be there a decade from now.

  19. Victoria needs to immediately review it’s brown coal generation with a view to convert suitable plants to IDGCC with CHP where possible. Where operators of suitable plants are unwilling to commit to such conversions, they have the option of selling but no compensation.

    IDGCC alone will increase efficiency from the current 29% (or worse) to 41%. This will enable a minimum of one third to be shut down with minimum compensation because operators will increase their profit from the more efficient plants.

    This will give them a bit more time to come to their senses on population growth, logging, energy efficiency and renewables.

  20. @hc

    Harry, national opinion polls are of little relevance here. When and if a government proposes to put a nuclear power station in or near a particular city, there will be a revolution in that city.

  21. Uncle Milton, Harry’s arguments are valid even though the stats are based on today’s technology. But having said, I believe Australians are willing to wait another decade to see what new technologies come online before even considering nuclear.

  22. Uncle Milton, What – even if the power station was situated in a job-hungry, poor region such as the La Trobe Valley where even current jobs are under threat.

    Again too the health consequences of living near a coal-fired power station should be stressed.

  23. Pr Q says:

    the foreign owners of brown coal power plants are demanding that, instead of receiving compensation over time for the effects of the ETS, they should be paid a lump sum, in the billions of dollars, to shut down the plants.

    Its significant that this demand for lump-sum compensation from the brown coal lobby implies they are folding on their political resistance to CPRS. Its no longer “whether or not”, but rather “how much”. In satirical terms they are providing they are providing the set-up line in GB Shaw’s crack at ladies who look down at whores*.

    This implies two hopeful points for liberal Green political-economists such as Pr Q.
    One, the Greenhouse Mafia lobby is not politically invincible.
    Two, the Commonwealth’s ETS (in at least one possible expression) will have enough teeth to damage carbon emitters balance sheets and by implication modify carbon emitting behaviour.

    I’ve long expressed credulity about the potency of the Greenhouse Mafia and skepticism about the efficacy of an ETS. So I am happy to concede “I was wrong” on this, if in fact anything comes of it.

    On the more general question of the ethics of compensation for nationalisation, I am inclined to take a hard line. These formerly state-owned utilities should never have been privatised in the first place. They were set up after the Great War by General Monash to provide power for the people. So we are really only taking back what was ours in the first place.

    I tend to side favour the approach taken by the Right Deviationist (Bukharin) wing of Bolshevism. That is, pay them out a derisory sum but don’t bankrupt them or kill them. Energy generator companies & employees should get paid out according to the market value of their industrial and intellectual investments under the current regulatory dispensation. Not a penny more. Apparently the ETS-discounted value of these utilities is fairly low.

    But I dont think they should be expropriated without compensation much less sent to the Siberian Gulag or shot. Thats too harsh.

    *Bernard Shaw was at a party once and he told this lady that everyone would agree to do anything for money, if the price was high enough.
    `Well, I wouldn’t,’ she said.
    `Oh yes you would,’ he said. `For instance, would you sleep with me for… for a million pounds?’
    `Well,’ she said, `maybe for a million I would, yes.’
    `Would you do it for ten shillings?’ said Bernard Shaw.
    `Certainly not!’ said the woman
    `What do you take me for? A prostitute?’
    `We’ve established that already,’ said Bernard Shaw. `We’re just trying to fix your price now!’

  24. I agree with HC. In depressed areas even announcments of building prisons are greeted with enthusiasm, as long as they generate permanent work. The problem for nuclear is green votes in capitla cities.

  25. “The problem for nuclear is green votes in capitla cities”
    .
    If both the Liberal and Labor parties managed to agree that nuclear power was a good idea, the vote problem shouldn’t make any real difference (indeed, even if Labor decided to do it, it would be extremely strange if the Liberals opposed it).

  26. There needs to be a new codicil to Godwin’s Law, to the effect that the longer any thread about climate change mitigation goes on, the likelihood of it being hijacked by nuclear power advocates approaches 100%.

  27. If carbon caps are supposed to get a lot tougher in the next 20 years a cost-benefit analysis could show that a nuclear power plant near Melbourne makes sense. Using the site for the Wonthaggi desal would create additional savings since flash distillation using waste heat requires a lot less electricity than reverse osmosis. Not only is the desal hugely expensive another billion or so could be required for the 300 MW offset wind farm. I presume the desal will still operate when the wind is becalmed so some other power source will be needed. However the former coal mining area of Wonthaggi is apparently now gentrified and locals believe all future energy must be sparkling clean and cheap.

    If Vic, SA and Tas all become electricity importers because their renewables are inadequate that will be a massive boon to NSW and Qld, WA not being connected to the eastern grid.

  28. @hc
    HC – “Most coal-based power should be replaced over the next 30 years by nuclear power stations and we should be preparing for this now by establishing programs in nuclear engineering in the universities and by working hard to dispel ridiculous green movement fantasies about a technology that yields almost no carbon or any other pollutants and which is a dimension safer than coal.”

    Most coal power over then next 30 years can and should be replaced with solar thermal power stations that have 7 to 16 hours storage and supplemental gas boilers. In this way they are direct replacements for the coal fired power stations that they can replace. Additionally some of the newer coal plants that are in sunny areas can have solar collectors added to them quickly and cheaply to reduce the amount of coal they consume and bring immediate benefits to emissions before a nuclear power plant could even be approved.

    If anything nuclear advocates are the ones with fantasies. The objections to nuclear power are the real proliferation risk and the completely unresolved issue of economical disposal of the spent fuel. These are not green fantasies as the issues with Iran at the moment and the collapse of the Yucca Mountain facility show. Additionally there are severe doubts whether the reactors can be completed on time and on budget as the reactor in Finland currently under construction shows in stark relief.

    Solar thermal technology by contrast can underpin the renewable grid with 24X7 power no matter what the weather conditions or time of day. With a small amount of supplemental fuel, that can be produced from renewable resources, these power stations completely dispel the myth, propagated by some nuclear advocates, that renewables are intermittant and unreliable. Also they are not vapourware like GEN IV nuclear, but working power plants that are delivering power now and are in full scale production

  29. Stephen Gloor (Ender), if I may add solar collectors operating in conjunction with CCC technology must not be counted as part of the 20% renewables energy target for that really defeats the purpose of making the big polluters reduce their carbon footprint.

  30. Ender since these solar thermal plants might have difficulty coping with an overcast week I suggest they will need large fuel burning powerplants on standby. Therefore the effective capital cost could be double. This could be one reason they haven’t taken off yet. Yucca Mountain was an administrative ballsup not an engineering failure. Perhaps 25% of the world’s land surface could be suitable for deep burial sites. What about Broken Hill? I’m sure they’d like the cash now the mine tunnels are largely disused.

    The delays and cost overruns with the Finland reactor have prompted changes. Arbitration should resolve whether it is the builder or the regulator who has slowed progress. The builder Areva now plans with US aircraft manufacturer Grumman Northrop to prefabricate reactor parts to greatly speed future build times.

  31. Update, Update, Update, the message coming out of the UN-sponsored climate change talks in Bangkok is that developed countries must set aside 1% of their annual GDP to fund the climate change intervention measureseffects of climate change in developing countries and have an agreement in Copenhagen.

  32. How about we buy out the owners of the Victorian smelters as well? Then we can stop giving away electricity at $14 per MWh.

    of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate – this is a blog after all

    I speculate that by 2020, we will be having the exact same climate change discussions on the Quiggin blog as we are having today. No coal-fired power stations will have closed, no international agreement will have delivered anything of significance, Australia will be exporting more coal than ever, and global emissions will be at least 20% higher than they are today.

    Oh, we may have built a few more solar thermal “demonstration” plants by then 🙂

  33. @Hermit
    Hermit – “Ender since these solar thermal plants might have difficulty coping with an overcast week I suggest they will need large fuel burning powerplants on standby.”

    So please post the evidence you have for the whole of the NSW, Queensland and South Australia being overcast for a week- and while you are at it, please post what the wind speed was over that same area. If you cannot do this then I assume you are using the same refuted stock argument that has passed its use-by date. Are you going to require that nuclear power plants have a large fuel burning powerplant on standby while they are down for 2 or 3 months every two years for refuelling?

    CSP plants are no more intermittent than a normal gas fired power plant. In the very rare case of a solar thermal power plant being overcast for a week then it will be treated exactly like today when fossil fuel power plants are often down for maintenance for a week or more and we do not have total grid collapse. The system is designed now to cope perfectly well with this and the addition of solar thermal and wind will not change it.

    The solar plants do not require a whole power station on standby as there will be always other power plants not in overcast to take the load. Even if there where not the CST plants only require a gas boiler as the same steam turbine is used. This can be used as much as necessary at only a very small cost increase as over the whole year the total fuel used will be less than 15% of the fuel that a similar gas fuelled thermal power station would use. If the fuel comes from waste biomass then the whole process will be carbon neutral. If the wind is strong at the same time as the overcast conditions then the fuel will not have to be used at all.

    You need to take a look at the latest concentrating solar thermal plants as they are in all respects superior to nuclear and are a better solution for the low carbon future.

  34. Sorry to have to say this Carbonsink, but if the cost to developing countries in reaching an agreement in Copenhagen is roughly 1% annual GDP, then it is more or less rubber stamped.

  35. Sorry John, stuffed it again for the above should read ‘the cost to developed countries’ and not ‘developing countries’. I’m buggered and going for a break.

  36. @Michael of Summer Hill
    Michael – “Stephen Gloor (Ender), if I may add solar collectors operating in conjunction with CCC technology must not be counted as part of the 20% renewables energy target for that really defeats the purpose of making the big polluters reduce their carbon footprint.”

    I do agree here as we really need to phase out coal. However please consider this. The money we are wasting on CCS is going to be spent whether we like it or not – the greenhouse mafia will see this that. Why not take advantage of this and make a syngas fuelled solar hybrid that uses this CCS technology to be zero emission.

    We cannot possibly bury the whole 14 million tons a year of CO2 our current coal fired power stations emit no matter what we do. However the concept of burying the 90% lower emissions of a syngas/solar hybrid plant with the CO2 captured and buried when the coal is gasified is not completely out of the question. At least the money presently being spent on CCS will not be totally lost and the coal mafia may see this as being some market for coal is better than none at all.

    However just adding solar concentrators to brown coal power stations does not make them green. They need to be switched off as soon as possible.

  37. @carbonsink

    Carbonsink says, “I speculate that by 2020, we will be having the exact same climate change discussions on the Quiggin blog as we are having today. No coal-fired power stations will have closed, no international agreement will have delivered anything of significance, Australia will be exporting more coal than ever, and global emissions will be at least 20% higher than they are today.”

    Carbonsink, if politics was the only variable I would agree with you. However, matters will have changed so radically by 2020 that current politics will obsolete. Radical changes will be forced upon us by major energy and resource shortages and by climate change itself which will be very apparent even by 2020. The real world will force changes where corporatised politics has failed utterly.

  38. Pr Q says:

    The whole point of the ETS is to reduce pollution, and that can’t be done effectively if major polluters receive payments that are conditional on continuing polluting activities.

    Not so fast Kimosabe. Such Platonic policy protestations are no match for the ALP’s Machiavellian political machinations. It is perfectly possible for VIC INC to give to the Greenhouse Mafia with one hand and take from the atmosphere with another.

    The whole ETS-Brown coal industry thing has put the VIC government in the mother of all policy binds, which it is trying to extricate itself from with minimum political damage. Two articles from today’s Age illustrate this dilemma.

    On the one hand its trying to grandfather these aging dirty generators out of existence in order to fall into line with CPRS policy whilst not p*ssing off King Coal.

    Hence the issue of buying out the dirty coal power companies is now on the table. See today’s Age “ETS could force power stations to close”. Lotta votes up for grab in Gippsland, not to mention dirty money from the GHM.

    On the other hand it does not want to squander the gold I mean coal mines under its feet, even if they are heavily polluting industries. See today’s Age again “Green fury at plans to sell brown coal to India”.

    So the game plan for VIC INC is to buy out the coal companies using tax-payers money then fill that hole in the budget by flogging brown coal off to India.

    Beautiful. Once upon a time I had to hand it to the NSW ALP for deviousness. But those guys are amateurs compared to the VIC ALP. The Southern Cross State appear to be taking over the mantle of national champions,

    Don’t you just love the post-modern ALP: talks a good game Left but always tacks Right at the death.

  39. I agree with Carbonsink that no coal plants will be closed by 2020 because the electrification of transport plus population growth will require huge increases in electricity generation beyond our ability to roll out renewables. I hope that the most inefficient would have been upgraded by then.

    I agree with Ike #40 on the rest however. I believe that by 2020 there will be over a GWe of Geothermal generating capacity, over a GWe of Solar Thermal with storage, large scale Solar PV will be grid parity, and politicians will have been forced into a plan to stabilise population growth due to collapsing ecosystems, especially marine.

  40. Gippsland could change over to gas for the next few decades as a transition measure, either by forced efficiencies as the price to getting compensation or an industry transition scheme. Melbourne Uni at the moment are scoping very deep geothermal under there – given who is involved (technically) I have high confidence that it’s there. On the other hand, perhaps CCS could get up in that time. East Gippsland is subsiding due to gas and water extraction – it needs pumping up!

    All of these options would be feasible if carbon was priced anywhere close to its external damage costs. Free permits for those who are already imposing significant costs on future generations, I find morally repugnant. This is like wrapping portable classrooms with asbestos in order to cut the cost of disposal plus save money on heating costs and only counting the benefits.

  41. Give them compensation – but with the condition that the money they receive MUST be spent building renewable plants.

  42. Stephen Gloor (Ender), converting coal-bed methane into electricity is appealing for the simple reason Australia will never run out of the stuff.

  43. Jack Strocchi #41 “Don’t you just love the post-modern ALP: talks a good game Left but always tacks Right at the death.”

    They don’t even talk a ‘good game Left’ anymore. How is the ALP different from the Liberals, essentially? Why would any thinking person need to vote Liberal now that the ALP has pretty much taken over the role? Not that I’m sorry because it helps the Greens but between the demise of the Liberal party – unless they re-invent themselves – and the ascendancy of the Greens there could be many years of very ineffective opposition. Then again, the emergence of highly ethical independants means the Greens could form a coalition government with them.

  44. @Ikonoclast
    “Carbonsink, if politics was the only variable I would agree with you. However, matters will have changed so radically by 2020 that current politics will obsolete.” I really wished I shared your optimism Ikonocalst

  45. @nanks

    If ‘the politics’ hasn’t changed by 2020 then its all over red rover. By then we need to be on to the far bigger problem – Engineering, Logistic, Economics. The utter complexity of massive real world scale.

    So step 1. Change the polititcs. How? Get out there and do it. In what direction? Get the maximum number of people involved. People lead, politicians follow. Don’t believe me? People want apathy, staying at home with your mates eating pizza and watching videos on you wide screen whatever. They want that, the ‘Leaders’ deliver. What we want, they give us. To save the world? Want something different! How do we get ‘the people’ to want something different. Scare the pants off them!. None of this ‘we have to give people hope’ rubbish. Hope is passive – cross your fingers and hope. What we need is active hope. And fear is a great source of that.

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