John Howard: Greens Are ‘Real Extremists’
Former Australian prime minister John Howard has branded the Greens the “real extremists” of Australian politics and urged the LNP to challenge One Nation on economic policies. Mr Howard said it would be problematic for the LNP to win the election and he backed the party’s preference arrangements for the Greens and One Nation. “I think the LNP are absolutely right to put the Greens last,” Mr Howard said.“In my view the Greens are the real extremists of Australian politics, whether it’s in Queensland, NSW or anywhere. My starting proposition would be you’d put the Greens last. But why did Howard describe Greens are extremists? Well, in my view that can only be because the party has stood strong and waged a campaign to stop Adani coal mine. Someone need to remind Howard that pollution from coal-fired power plants has a huge impact on human health. A recent report estimates that coal-fired power plants currently in operation cause more than 100,000 premature deaths every year in the world. And more coal-fired plants like Adani are planned. If Howard was to make a quick call to Queensland health department, he will see that less than funds allocated for health is less than an eighth of the sum required just to treat the illnesses caused by coal pollution in the state.Howard knows very well coal is a very dirty fuel because it is essentially carbon. It releases carbon dioxide when burned, along with many other dangerous pollutants. It means Adani plant will represents decades of commitment to infrastructure supporting the burning fossil fuels and to continuing greenhouse gas emissions.Beyond coal, Queensland’s potential involving renewable energy is substantial both in variety and quantity. The potential of renewable energy such as wind, solar, ocean and biomass in Queensland is quite adequate.It’s impossible to put a figure on the cost of a human life, whether adult or child. But a Queenslander suffering from diseases like lung cancer, strokes, heart conditions, chronic respiratory ailments and acute respiratory infection not only faces an early death.
It is common sense that he or she cannot work or support a family. The assumption that coal is a good investment does not add up and even Howard is well aware of that. Taking into account the health costs, which will run for the lifetime of the power plant, the price of Adani plant for coal power is shown to be a fiction that the Green Party in Queensland and Federally has exposed. It is a fiction because it ignores the long term health costs, the cost of environmental impacts such as water pollution, and the expected costs of dealing with the impact of climate change caused by CO2 emissions from coal plants like the proposed Adani plant. Take all of that into account and the true cost of coal is double, well above even the most expensive renewable energy offshore wind. And more than half of that is the cost of the health impacts. Investors across Australia and even Queensland sense that the energy market is changing, with a major shift in investment towards low-carbon energy. Queensland needs to be part of this shift, away from coal with its devastating environmental, health and economic costs, and toward renewable energy by stopping Adani planned coal plant.A major problem with Adani coal plant is that its full costs are not reflected in its market price and thus while Queensland may seemingly purchase and burn coal cheaply, in reality it will be paying a much higher cost in the long term. The impacts on the environment and human health are not captured in the price of coal. Those who benefit from the seemingly cheap electricity do not pay for these externalities directly, but the public eventually has to pay in the form of medical bills, environmental cleanups, etc. Money or pricing is a powerful tool to promote the use and development of renewable energy to meet its potential. An excellent way for Queensland government to encourage proper behavior is to offer incentives for renewable energy development. Climate change is a major problem for Queensland and for Australia. Therefore Australia cannot expect to avoid dangerous climate change unless it makes a significant contribution to mitigation by cutting emissions which the Green Party has fought for relentlessly which helps explain Howard’s remarks.