Energy can be cheap, it can be reliable and it can be sustainable.

With current technology, you can wish for three but you can only have two.

That reality has been argued by the ACCC in speeches and reports, especially last year when energy prices replaced petrol as our favourite whinge. A summary of the ACCC position outlined at the National Press Club last year is here.

The beauty of the ACCC is it has no axe to grind. The ACCC is technology neutral. It only wants what’s best for you – the consumer.

Ketan Joshi, a writer at the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) disputes the ACCC’s equation:

He can disagree, but at the moment, that’s the reality.

The Essential Poll

Using research from October from Essential (a left-wing research outlet), Joshi argued the case on The Drum that there is high demand for climate action across the political spectrum, albeit to understandable degrees of confidence. The Greens are more eager, which should surprise no one; One Nation not so confident about climate change being ‘real’.

This plays into the recent Liberal slaughter in Victoria, that the Liberals aren’t taking climate change seriously and that if they only agree to climate action voters would flock to them … maybe we’ve learned to love higher prices because that’s what it means.

Of course, asking about ‘climate action’ is to question attitudes towards motherhood.

Of course people want to ‘save the planet’.

Of course people want energy that doesn’t pollute.

Of course people want energy to be cheap … and reliable … and sustainable.

We are behaving like children; we can’t have it all.

This is what voters were asked:

Q. As far as you know, do you think Australia is doing enough, not enough or too much to address climate change?

  Total   Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens Vote other   Aug 2015 Mar 2016 Aug 2016 Dec 2016 Sep 2017
Doing enough 23% 16% 36% 5% 24% 24% 21% 22% 22% 20%
Not doing enough 56% 69% 45% 88% 45% 53% 57% 52% 49% 56%
Doing too much 7% 3% 9% 2% 21% 7% 8% 8% 11% 8%
Don’t know 13% 12% 10% 5% 9% 16% 13% 18% 18% 16%

56% (no change since September last year) think Australia is not doing enough to address climate change and 23% (up 3%) think Australia is doing enough.

Those most likely to think Australia is not doing enough were aged 18-44 (61%) and university educated (65%).

Liberal National voters were split but were more likely to think the Government was not doing enough (45%).

Source: Essential.

The real question

Wanting climate action is not the question we need to answer.

The real question is this: what are you prepared to pay for climate action?

In all that Joshi said, he didn’t address what people are willing to pay.

When the rubber hits the road, how far are they prepared to dip their own hand in their own pocket?

Australians squeal like stuck pigs when petrol rises 5 cents a litre, or 10 cents before a long weekend (no offence). That represents maybe an additional $5-10 per tank. Compare that with the cost of climate action and it’s chickenfeed.

In 2007 Kevin Rudd told us that climate action would cost about “$1 per person per year“. That’s chicken feed, but it’s mainly BS.

When we find out the true cost of climate action, these numbers will change … and so will the commitment to climate action … as Tony Abbott proved.

The problem is that we are being lied to about the true cost. That’s why we haven’t had the climate action people say they want because when it comes to paying for global warming, Australians get cold feet.


Feature image: Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash.