Although Ronald Reagan was second-grade actor and a third-grade American president, he was a first-grade creator of quotes.
He once said "Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book".
Last week I was reminded of that statement when Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Energy Minister and Minister for Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, informed us about their plans for a gas-led way out of the Covid-19 economic crisis.
Never mind last summer's bushfires. Don't worry about the fact that a re-run of this disaster is currently reducing parts of California to ashes.
Dismiss the desperate calls of the scientific community for an immediate reduction of the use of fossil fuels if we want to have any chance of slowing the accelerating rate of global heating.
While we as humans are staring down the barrel of our own extinction, Taylor and Morrison insist on reinforcing the status quo. Australia is to stay a top user and exporter of fossil fuels, and therefore of climate change. Whatever the cost.
Angus Taylor told the energy industry that the government would build a new 1GW gas-fired power station with our money unless industry can meet his plan for more reliable power. Even conservative observers are flabbergasted.
The government's plan is socialism, camouflaged in pinstripes and designer ties.
No investor with any credibility and with responsibility to shareholders would spend money on a power source whose days are already numbered, not just because it will soon be a toxic asset, as toxic as coal, but because it is simply too expensive a power source compared to renewables such as solar and wind, combined with mass battery storage.
At the National Press Club Angus Taylor eventually presented the government's road map to recovery from the coronavirus recession.
It does not leave much room for hope for anyone concerned about climate change and job creation.
18 billion of your dollars are to be invested in five technologies: hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, soil carbon, "low-carbon" steel and aluminium production, as well as storage options.
After fluffy words like "transformation" are stripped away, two points became clear: there is hardly any attempt to fundamentally reduce emissions (pumping CO2 deep into leaky storage rock does not count as reduction), and gas will still play a major role, if not the new leading role, in Australia's energy future.
And why not? In the eyes of a government, pumped-up by the fossil fuel industry with millions of donor-dollars, gas is the new coal. Only cleaner, they say, and therefore more acceptable, they hope.
After all, a new natural gas power plant would probably emit around half of the carbon dioxide (CO2) than a coal powered station.
But gas still contributes to the apocalyptic heating of our planet in a major way.
During the extraction process it is even worse than coal, due to methane leakage.
This gas is a real killer, literally, of our atmosphere: it is about 120 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat.
For a country already in danger of missing our laughable 2030 Paris target, because of the recent boom in gas production, pumping more money - your money - into this destructive fuel is simply "crazy", as Malcolm Turnbull called it.
The former PM said It was a "fantasy" to believe that an expensive fuel like gas will lead to cheaper energy, because it costs too much to extract.
This road map will lead to even higher energy costs and even more pollution. And of course to massive profits for resources companies - many of them under foreign control.
I would argue this is not what people want. Yes, they do want cheaper power, but they do not want their children to pay for it with their future.
Yes, they want our money to be spent on the expansion of technologies, but on those already proven to be winners and that do not cost us the Earth.
Hundreds of thousands of Australians are already speaking with their wallet. We just love renewable energy! Just look over the roofs of your town.
Like Goulburn, where a project started by The Goulburn Group (TGG) 10 years ago has initiated a boom in the uptake of rooftop solar.
Local businesses and tradies are flourishing. Young people are being trained and they have jobs - long term, quality, sustainable jobs. They can start their own family, in their hometown.
A new community solar farm is about to break ground. Wind energy also has been a boost for jobs and businesses in our region - from suppliers to motels to retailers. All this not because but despite the consistent opposition of the local member of parliament, Angus Taylor.
Morrison and Taylor have positioned themselves on the wrong side of history. I am looking forward to reading their books.
Urs Walterlin is founder and patron of 'The Goulburn Group (TGG), a community action organisation with a focus on sustainable economic development.
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