There is no topic in journalism and media where assertions are less inclined to be interrogated and tested against facts and reality than green-left posturing on global warming and climate policies. Journalists tend to be green-left, crave the approval of their peers and fear few things more than the social ostracisation that might come from appearing sceptical about emissions reduction policies or, even worse, being accused of being right of centre.
Green-left Project gets it wrong on German power
The result is coverage of climate issues where journalists accept climate activist slogans as fact, fail to interrogate claims made by left-of-centre politicians and demonstrate unfailing incuriosity about scientific complexities and the estimated costs and benefits of emissions reductions policies. The so-called progressive media groups and their journalists (in particular the ABC, Nine newspapers and much of the Canberra press gallery) have had a horrible decade where they have been wrong, misleading and out of step with reality on border protection issues, climate policy preferences, economic policies and the electoral dynamics flowing from all of these. Yet they learn nothing.
As I have demonstrated time and again, they have deliberately promulgated falsehoods relating to this season’s deadly bushfires in order to pretend that something new is afoot and feed into a politically charged climate debate. Readily available historical facts are ignored in favour of false and misleading claims and emotive assessments.
There is stiff competition, especially from the public broadcasters, to provide the most woke and deceptive take on these issues. But no television program is more relentlessly woke, driven by feelpinions and committed to fake news than Channel 10’s The Project.
In recent months it has campaigned strongly against Scott Morrison and has been caught out misrepresenting an exchange between the Prime Minister and a bushfire volunteer, hiding the Greens campaigning credentials of another Morrison bushfire critic and portraying an abusive Morrison bushfire critic as a martyr who had been dumped by the NSW Rural Fire Service when, in fact, he had not been.
The Project’s political coverage provides Twitter-level standards of partisanship and accuracy. Last week host Waleed Aly filed a report from Germany, portraying Europe’s largest economy as a renewable energy and climate action nirvana, contrasting it to Australia’s climate inaction dystopia, or some such.
Germany was portrayed as a “global success story” that had “shut down black coal mining and is about to do the same with brown coal”. It was implementing a “just transition” to “shift from fossil-based energy to renewable energy while protecting workers and the economy.”
Sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it? Let’s inject some relevant facts into the discussion.
Let’s start with this claim Germany is “about to” shut down brown-coal mining — in fact its aim is to close it down by 2038. On that basis Aly is “about to” turn 60 years old (to be scrupulously fair, he did mention the target date later in his report).
While Germany has stopped mining black coal, it still imports the stuff and burns it. A Deutsche Bank report on German energy imports notes that coal imports in 2018 were 39 per cent higher than 2000 levels because while mining has been phased out “the use of coal for electricity production has declined much more slowly.” Why didn’t The Project mention that?
Which brings us to other energy imports; oil remains Germany’s largest, but it is challenged now by natural gas which is increasingly being used for home heating and electricity generation. The country’s electricity supplies are also supplemented by imported nuclear energy.
This, of course, is one of the major differences and advantages for a nation like Germany surrounded by near neighbours, unlike our island continent. European nations integrate their electricity grids so that power can be exported or imported as required, bolstering energy security and meaning they don’t have to be as self-reliant as Australia.
Overall Germany relies on imported fuel (coal and gas) for 70 per cent of electricity supplies and while this has enabled it to be a net electricity exporter, its renewable energy transition means it will soon become a net importer. That is a significant change in its economic environment.
Its renewables push has focused on wind and solar but also includes biomass (burning wood waste and the like). Forbes.com has assessed its renewables performance this way: “Despite much hype, Germany still generates just 35% of its electricity from renewables. And if biomass burning, often dirtier than coal, is excluded, wind, water and solar electricity in Germany accounted for just 27% of electricity generation in 2018.”
Australia is due to provide 23 per cent of its electricity from renewables this year and expert reports suggest that target will be exceeded in coming years. One Australian National University study is so bullish about investment trends that it suggests this figure could reach 50 per cent within five years.
What about emissions reduction performance? We know Australia met and exceeded its Kyoto targets and is committed to Paris targets. Germany, on the other hand, according to a McKinsey study of its energy transition, won’t meet its 2020 targets. “If the pace of emission reduction from the past decade continues, Germany will hit its 2020 targets eight years late, and will only meet those for 2030 in 2046,” says the report.
And supply is emerging as a major problem. “The German power grid repeatedly faced critical situations in June of (2019): significant shortfalls in available power were detected on three separate days,” said McKinsey, explaining the situation will worsen. “The phase-out of nuclear power until the end of 2022, and the planned reduction of coal-fired generation, will gradually shut down further secured capacity.”
OK, on this scorecard, rather than being shown up by Germany, Australia is doing almost as well on renewables, better on emissions reduction, and perhaps about the same on energy security. What about price?
“Today the electricity price for households is still about 45 per cent above the European average,” says the McKinsey report on Germany’s transition. International data site, Globalpetrolprices.com, shows German electricity prices are the highest of the major world economies at 34c a kilowatt hour. This is 41 per cent higher than Australia at 24c, and 126 per cent higher than the US at 15c.
Yet according to Aly and The Project, Germany is showing the way. Furthermore, he said, “the main thing that gets in the way of us achieving something similar is just political culture.”
Presumably this means that if our political culture improved we would increase our electricity costs by 41 per cent and miss our emissions reductions targets too. As dysfunctional as our politics can appear, it could be excused for not aspiring to match the intellectual depth and integrity of The Project.