Because it’s Australia day Jan 26th and Chinese New Year on Jan 28th/29th we thought it would be interesting to compare the two countries with regards to climate change and energy policy and how short term thinking is impacting upon them.
If you want to see climate change in action look no further than Australia. Droughts, depleted soils and bush fires have affected the nation to the extent that 92% of the population claim to already be impacted by the effects of global warming.
Australia’s own coal fired power stations are coming to the end of their life and, as with so many other countries around the world, seems to be slow to fill the gap. Considering that there is a huge solar resource and plenty of empty space, it would seem prudent to invest in solar PV and concentrating solar power – now. The latter gets around the obvious problem of the sun not shining at night. The sun’s heat has been used in the day to heat up salts, storing the energy which is then used to heat water making steam to turn electric turbines.
Australia has coal to sell. Most of it they want to export to developing nations. If this coal is to be burned, then in accordance with the Paris agreement, it will have to be burned so as not to emit any greenhouse gases. Current “clean coal” technology claims to reduce emissions by 50% but if this technology is invested in now then the infrastructure is in place for another 40 years, driving the further need to burn coal. These power stations could be built using carbon capture and storage. However this is hugely expensive in terms of money and energy.
Yes there are mining jobs at stake but surely it is better to transition those jobs to clean technologies as was happening in the UK and is happening in China?
China has other problems. Theirs is not climate change (yet), but pollution. The massive expansion of the country’s industry has been powered by coal. The consequence of which is that many areas (and large swathes of the population) are blighted by damaging levels of air pollution. The coal is mined from within the country, the health and safety statistics are a real cause for concern, many lives have been lost in Chinese mines to keep the supply going. Since 2014 however there has been a turn around and China’s coal use has not increased. This comes alongside a huge investment in renewables. Admittedly coal will still be a large part of the energy mix, but the recognition that they need to do things differently is heartening.
So the moral of this story is – plan, think ahead, don’t be short termist. This applies to any business, anywhere. A short term need to make money today with no regard for the environmental damage caused, that is paid for by society at large, in the long term will not benefit anyone.
If you would like assistance in investigating how you could run your business in a more environmentally friendly way, give us a call on 01746 552423 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All you have to lose are operational costs!