This is a continuation of the commentary on the maiden speech by the member for Flynn, Colin Boyce1. The reason I have divided this into two parts is because to not do so would have made the item a bit too long. In the first part, I concentrated on his climate denialism and showed how that part of his speech contained numerous lies2. Here I deal with some of the other, slightly more peripheral, lies.
Boyce starts off with stating that the climate conference in Glasgow largely agreeing to get to “net zero carbon emissions by 2050”, but then Russia invaded Ukraine and it was this which “exposed energy policy and national security in many [European Union] countries as desperately lacking. He selects Germany as his exemplar, and blames their renewable energy and emissions policy for exposing their national security1. How Boyce could interpret what is happening this way is mind boggling. He is either knowingly telling porkies (i.e. lying, again) or is too stupid to realise what is happening.
Natural gas makes up about 27% of Germany’s overall energy mix, and before Russia invaded Ukraine, just over half (55%) of that gas was imported from Russia. Since Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February and in reaction to sanctions imposed by the west, the export of Russian gas has been cut back. As a consequence, the German government has scrambled to source gas from elsewhere. By the end of June, Germany only relied on Russian gas for about 25% of its gas. That remaining quarter makes Germany particularly vulnerable as it is required to heat private homes and to power industry3. So, it is not renewables which have caused the problem in Germany, it is reliance on Russian gas. Indeed, if Germany had a higher proportion of electricity generated from renewables, it would not be as dependent on Russian gas imports.
As part of this gas scramble, Germany and several of its neighbours are turning on their coal-fired power plants in order to conserve precious reserves of natural gas for the winter. This is a temporary, if necessary measure after the Russian gas cutbacks. Germany has not “overturned its decision to phase out coal-fired power stations and nuclear power plants” as Boyce states. Germany still plans to phase out coal completely by 2038 at the latest. Indeed, this crisis will give added impetus to climate policy and will lead to a redoubling of efforts to deploy renewables4.
Germany’s remaining three nuclear power plants supply 11% of the nation’s electricity and these were due to be shut down by the end of the year, and are already winding down. There is no way to reverse the decommissioning process over the next 18 months, due to the time it takes to order, deliver and install equipment as well as enrich the required uranium5. Again, Boyce is telling porkies.
Boyce also refers to the old furphy “renewables … simply cannot supply … baseload power” in his diatribe against renewables. This supposed need for coal ‘baseload’ power has been demonstrated time and again to be a myth put about by the anti-renewable crowd6,7. Another porky from Boyce.
Boyce also uses the Trump-style blame-shifting technique of ‘people are saying…’ when he says “Recent media reports say that Europe is abandoning net zero.” This is not so. Emissions may rise this year and next because of the need to use more coal and liquefied natural gas to replace that from Russia, but legislation is being put in place to make steeper cuts later this decade to compensate8. Another porky from Boyce.
Next Boyce notes there is a proposal to build a green hydrogen industry in Gladstone and that “hydrogen is promoted as a saviour”. However, he then notes that the gas is extremely dangerous and lists some disasters in part caused by hydrogen explosions. These included “the zeppelin” [it was in fact the Hindenburg] disaster of 19379, the Challenger space shuttle disaster of 198610, and the 2011 Fukushima disaster11. However, in a slight self-own, Boyce includes the explosion at the Callide C4 coal-fired generator as one of the disasters12.
Boyce further attempts to convince other gullible people that the amount of power to produce green hydrogen (from electrolysis of water) is a massive problem. However, while it is relatively expensive, the number of projects around the world is expanding rapidly. The electrolysis plants are tending to be built with their own renewable power supply13. He uses the ‘worst case scenario’ of requiring the renewable energy for electrolysis to be generated by wind turbines, which he states have a ‘footprint’ of 25 hectares. Given that one wind turbine produces about 3 Megawatts of electricity14, For the same amount of electricity to be produced by a solar PV plant, that plant would only cover about 6-9 hectares15. This is Boyce again telling porkies.
Boyce also suggests that electrolysis of fresh water would need large quantities of that commodity, and that using sea water would require more energy again for desalination, and that the pumping of the resulting brine into the ocean would be devastating to the Great Barrier Reef. This is one of Boyce’s most appalling lies. He is unconcerned about global warming leading to the demise of the Great Barrier Reef, which is largely doomed, according to the Australian Academy of Science. Even if the 1.5 degrees C hoped for by the Paris Agreement is achieved, the Great Barrier Reef will largely cease to exist as we know it; at best only 30% of it will remain. If warming gets to 2.0 degrees C, it is likely only 1% of the reef will remain16.
Boyce’s second ultimate Iie is when he says that such new technology (including hydrogen) would require huge amounts of government subsidies and he suggests that there are “many issues that have not been satisfactorily addressed—aged care, child care, health care, the cost of living, social housing, housing affordability and so on”1. For a member of a party that was part of the most corrupt, fortunately former, government to say something like this is simply disgusting. That government shovelled out public money to its mates and donors, and did nothing about the problems listed by Boyce.
It used to be a serious transgression for a member or senator to mislead parliament. Now it seems that it is quite acceptable to repeat one lie after another. Many people in Australia have started to realise that global warming is an existential threat to much of the biosphere, and that has in part led to the election of the climate change independents (the Teals) in seats which the Liberal Party would normally expect to hold without much trouble. While liars like Boyce spout their drivel in and outside parliament, it will be of medium to long term benefit to the nation as it will lead to the demise of the Liberal Party.