Grattan goes denialist

Reading the reactions to the incoherent report on electricity pricing from the ACCC, I was struck by this quote from Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute, writing in the Oz 

Australians need energy policy that is driven by neither green evangelism for renewables nor a deep-seated fear to protect the role of coal for baseload power.

“Green evangelism” is rhetoric straight out of the denialist camp, associated with the bogus claim that climate change is not science but a religion   The content of the piece bears this out. Wood opposes any form of subsidy for renewables and (by omission) any price on carbon emissions. He advocates a policy that is “the policy is indifferent to the tech­nology mix, whether new-build or the extension of the operating life of an existing, newer coal-fired plant.”

This is centrism at its worst. Faced with a choice between an evidence-based response to climate change and culture-war proposals to actively subsidise the destruction of the global environment, Grattan has gone for the “middle course” of doing nothing whatsoever about climate change.

 

Years too late, the ACCC recognises the failure of the NEM

The latest ACCC report on the National Electricity Market is an incoherent mess, reflecting the breakdown of the neoliberal/market liberal assumptions on which both the ACCC and the NEM are founded. But I can at least endorse this statement

There are many causes of the current problems in the electricity market. At all stages of the supply
chain decisions have been made over many years by many governments that set the NEM on the
wrong course.

As I said in a report to the Electrical Trades Union in 2014

The National Electricity Market was implemented in the context of National Competition Policy and at a time when faith in competitive markets was at its peak. The [resulting’ design flaws  have led, over 20 years, to the failure of the NEM … These failures are not accidental. Rather they can be explained by fundamental and incurable flaws in the NEM model of pricing, regulation and incentives for investment. Marginal adjustments such as those being proposed at present will inevitably prove inadequate.

Back then, as I recall, the idea of that the NEM was a failure was not so popular. Rather, the only obstacle to complete success was said to be the remnants of public ownership in NSW and Queensland.

Regular update

After a gap of several months, I finally got around to writing up an update on my recent activities, only to discover that the Contacts application on MacOS had lost most of my contact list.  Following the advice of helpful readers, I decided to switch to MailChimp to manage my mailing list. If you would like to receive my regular email news, please sign up using the following link

http://eepurl.com/dAv6sX

For those who’d rather read it here at the blog, here’s a link.

Economics in Two Lessons Chapter 16: Environmental policy

Nearly seven years after I started work, here’s the final draft chapter from my book-in-progress, Economics in Two Lessons. Thanks to everyone who commented on the first 15 chapters and encouraged me in the project as a whole.

I’ve had quite a few amusing snarks on Twitter to the effect that 16 chapters and 90 000 words is an awful lot for just two lessons.  That’s true and yet there are even more topics I wanted to cover. In particular, I wrote quite a bit on health and education but have had to omit most of it for space reasons. Still, if anyone wants to point out critical omissions, now’s the time.

Comments, criticism and praise are welcome. I’m also on the lookout for telling graphs, insightful illustrations and apt quotations.

Read More »