Media / politics / public policy

the Adani-infused Australian energy mess

Australian energy landscape is getting ever more interesting. This week Malcolm Turnbull’s government announced the national energy guarantee (Neg) scheme. The plan has been questioned since the day of its release by the opposition as well as the media. Today both the Labor and Greens said that the Neg is more likely to intensify the emissions and move Australia away from the Paris Agreement, rather than work towards it by reducing the carbon emissions generated by the energy industry.

It is quite sad to think about the excitement and hope when the Agreement was officially coming to life almost exactly a year ago. It is quite sad to think that the coal-addicted Australian government is still in the same place as it was a year ago. But the Neg is not the only carbon-friendly scheme looming over the Australian energy landscape. There is also the infamous Adani Carmichael mine, construction of which is to start sometime next week.

As the media report, majority of the public oppose the Adani mine, and what’s really interesting is that even among the One Nation voters “more oppose the mine going ahead (44.9%) than support it (37.7%).” This alone should give anybody some food for thought.

Despite the nationwide protests and rallies held in big and small cities across Australia in the beginning of October, the project is still likely to go ahead. Why is the Australian government ignoring its own country’s voice when its raising concerns about the financial, social and environmental aspects of the project?

I still find it hard to understand why the Australian government would be willing to go ahead with a coal mine that is likely to be obsolete too soon to make any significant profits (at least for Australia), would create only a 1,400 jobs while destroying the Great Barrier Reef and in turn the tourism industry in Northern Queensland (and potentially as many jobs as it will provide, or more), and also will put Australia on a pedestal for the environmentally backward-thinking countries led by the coal-lobbied elite on par with the USA.

The only reason I can think of is that Adani must be really good at promising a safe refuge on Mars when Australia is turned into one big desert after the temperatures rise even more thanks to the about to be built largest coal mine the world – the Adani Carmichael mine.

Another interesting aspect is that Adani Group is an Indian family business, which also has ambitions to be the single biggest generator of solar energy in India. Even if you know about their bad environmental record in their home country, you might still wonder – why would they want to invest in coal if it seems like they should know that it is a thing of the past?

The answer could be in the promised $1 billion federal loan to build the plant and the recently reported tax havens the Adani business is using for its operations. If the project goes ahead, it could not only mean that the Indian energy mogul will get a $1 billion subsidy, but also that even if the coal plant is not producing any profits after it starts running, the company can perform one of its well-rehearsed tricks and earn by lending funds to their own mine (just like they did with Linc Energy when dealing with the Carmichael mine). Some say Adani family could even earn up to extra $3 billion from the deal at the expense of its shareholders.

I understand that every business wants to have profits and that’s fair. But what I don’t understand is how businesses (as well as politicians who are supposed to be representing their voters’ best interests) sacrifice long-term existence and well-being for short-term (personal) gain. I guess the most well-off who most often wield the power to make such decisions are always going to somehow figure it out and secure their own future (what are the tax havens and Mars for, after all).

Adani Screenshot

This is the ad that pops up after searching for Adani on Google. I would say that the ad is not wrong at all – with the help of Australian politicians and taxpayers, Adani is building a happy nation indeed. However, it is worth asking whether it is the Australian one we are talking about.

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