Bowen not Learning from International Lessons: Australia’s Energy Crossroads
Is Australia on the brink of repeating the energy policy mistakes made by Germany? Chris Bowen, the energy and climate czar for the Albanese government, touts the green and renewable revolution as Australia’s “golden ticket” to becoming an industrial powerhouse. However, is he turning a blind eye to the failed examples, particularly Germany, and the economic, industrial, and national security consequences that ensued?
Unlike Germany, not everyone is ideologically fixed in their approach to addressing the energy challenges of the 21st century. Even Australia, despite its efforts such as the Inflation Reduction Act, seems open to alternative solutions. As the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) approaches, several leading nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are advocating for the nuclear option to reduce carbon footprints and ensure reliable, clean energy for sustained economic and industrial growth amidst heightened geopolitical competition.
A Bloomberg article by John Ainger, Rachel Morison, and Akshat Rathi reveals that the US plans to lead a push at COP28 to triple global installed nuclear power capacity by 2050. This marks a significant shift in the perception of nuclear energy in climate negotiations. The US, joined by the UK, France, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Japan, Romania, and the United Arab Emirates, aims to triple baseload nuclear power generation globally by the middle of the century.
Support for this approach extends to influential voices like John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, who emphasizes that nuclear energy is a crucial component of a clean energy solution. The American Nuclear Society underscores the need for nuclear-inclusive lending policies to facilitate a large-scale build-out of nuclear energy, promoting sustainability.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) emphasizes that nuclear power has played a significant role in avoiding carbon dioxide emissions, providing clean energy, and contributing to energy security. It can also help decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors, such as transportation and industry, and play a vital role in achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Despite the growing international consensus and approval from experts, Australia’s energy czar seems resistant to learn from the experiences of other nations. This reluctance, critics argue, could condemn Australians to unreliable power, high electricity prices, and vulnerability to Beijing’s growing manufacturing influence.
As the world undergoes a shift towards multipolarity, the Indo-Pacific region becomes a hotbed of competition, with emerging powers like China, India, and others vying for dominance. In this environment, Australia must seek every competitive edge to thrive. To capitalize on the opportunities in the Indo-Pacific, Australia needs to adopt a long-term strategy that goes beyond traditional policy perspectives and addresses the challenges and opportunities presented in the region.
As events unfold, the crucial question remains: when will Australia conduct a more detailed analysis and formulate a comprehensive response to the challenges and opportunities it faces? In an era of increasing great power competition, can Australia afford to remain a secondary power, or should it embrace a larger, more independent role? The answers to these questions will shape Australia’s future in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.