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“The lights will stay on:” Coalition and Credlin slammed for misinformation on renewables

The Clean Energy Council has taken the unusual step of issuing a media release calling out the Murdoch-owned Sky News for spreading “misinformation” about Australia’s shift away from coal and towards renewable energy.

The CEC said it was responding to concerns raised about an episode of Credlin, last week, in which resources minister Keith Pitt and the show’s host, former Liberal Party advisor Peta Credlin, discussed the Australian Greens’ push for a post-election ban on new fossil fuel projects.

As RenewEconomy reported last week, this refers to Greens leader Adam Bandt saying that the party would seek a “temporary moratorium” on new coal, oil and gas projects as part of any balance of power negotiations around climate policy following the election.

Bandt’s comments were quickly seized upon by the Coalition and used to whip up a pre-election scare campaign around the tens of thousands of fossil fuel industry jobs, and tens of billions of dollars, that would go up in smoke if a “Labor-Greens Alliance” should win the election.

Building on this theme, Pitt told Credlin last Tuesday: “We’ve got people like Mr Bandt and the Greens in a Labor Alliance that want to shut [coal projects] down and if you’re out in the regions in a place like Moranbah that relies on coal… how do we keep the lights on?”

In the interview, Credlin singled out the CEC for its campaign for Australia to target a 100% renewable grid by 2030, saying it would lead to a scenario where “China will get rich, we’ll get poor, how do you keep the lights on… What do you make of it all?”

Pitt’s response: “Oh well that great movie quote, ‘tell ’em they’re dreamin.’ I mean, 70% of our supply comes from coal and gas right now.

“That that is how the electricity in this country is generated and the concept that you could abandon that in the next eight years is not only fraught with danger, it’s mad.

“You have to be able to keep the lights on we’ve got to keep the industry competitive, we need to make sure those assets last as long as possible. That is the safest way to continue the supply that all of those industries need, and that’s without getting down to mum and dad wanting to keep their freedom.”

For those counting, that’s three solid references to ‘keeping the lights on’ and one reference each to ‘mum and dad’ and ‘freedom,’ whatever that might mean.

The CEC was not having a bit of it, however, noting the three million “mums and dads” around Australia that had freely installed rooftop solar and already well understood the benefits of renewable energy.

“Misinformation like what went to air on Tuesday evening is tone deaf to the level of understanding that Australians have about the opportunity for clean energy in our country,” the CEC said in a statement.

“The Clean Energy Council has indeed challenged Australia’s political leaders to commit to meeting the country’s domestic electricity demand with clean energy by 2030.

“However, despite Ms Credlin’s assertions … it is Australia that will benefit from this rapid transition to clean energy through billions of dollars in private sector investment that will create thousands of jobs, bring economic activity to regional communities and lower power prices for consumers.

“Over the last three financial years, investment in large-scale renewable energy projects has delivered around $16 billion into the economy. It’s the tip of the iceberg.

“The lights will stay on, too. Late last year, the entire state of South Australia was powered by large-scale solar farms, wind farms and rooftop solar for six and a half days.

“The Australian Energy Market Operator CEO Daniel Westerman sees a future where, by 2025, the grid can run on 100 per cent renewable energy at any moment in any day,” the CEC statement continued.

“It’s time that Australia’s federal political leaders be honest with communities and take a proactive approach to the clean energy transition. Australian communities deserve a coordinated strategy to better manage the transition to a clean energy system and unlock the enormous potential at hand.”

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Sophie VorrathSophie Vorrath

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2022-02-13 21:47:37

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