On Thursday the government released its Technology Investment Roadmap. According to Minister for Energy and Emission Reductions Angus Taylor, this will be the cornerstone of Australia's long-term emissions reduction strategy.
It highlights a range of technologies that are certainly very important to reducing emissions to contain dangerous global warming, but everyone already knows what they are.
In fact, the government, back in 2017, released a report with a very similar name called the Low Emission Technology Roadmap.
That government report from three years ago set out that the government needed to put in place funding and policies that would progress all the same technologies that this recently released roadmap says are important.
The only thing that appears to be new in this roadmap are a few extra bubble charts and chevron diagrams, which management consultants are so fond of using to dress up other people's ideas as their own.
After ploughing through the 70 pages of the new roadmap you're left with one big and rather obvious unanswered question: Why is the government agency which has primary responsibility for progressing most to these technologies about to run out of funding?
Pick a technology highlighted as a priority in the roadmap and chances are that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has been the main driver of Australian efforts to advance it.
Hydrogen, battery energy storage, advanced solar photovoltaics, solar thermal for industrial heat, pumped hydro, enhanced grid and energy management technology to cope with the variability of wind and solar, bioenergy - all of them have relied on ARENA as their main source of government funding.
Instead it should have released a statement with just two sentences:
One: "The Morrison government commits to renew ARENA's original funding of $2.5 billion by providing a further $2.5 billion over the next five years."
Two: "To ensure the agency's independence from political interference, this funding will be enshrined in the ARENA legislation and its board members will no longer be appointed by the minister alone but rather a group of industry and community organisations with a substantial interest in ARENA's objectives."
Why does the "Technology Roadmap" completely neglect to address the future of the agency in charge of progressing most of the priority technologies?
I don't know. But I wonder whether it has something to do with the fact that there are two technologies in the roadmap which ARENA is barred from funding - the capture and storage of carbon pollution from fossil fuels, and nuclear power.
No doubt the culture warriors on the left and the right will all get their knickers in a knot over whether these technologies are worthy of government assistance. But this is a complete distraction to the issue of ARENA's future.
The government is completely free to set up another agency or use an existing one to progress carbon capture and storage or nuclear technologies, if it thinks this is important. But the fact that ARENA is unable to support these technologies is no reason for why it can't be funded to support all the other technologies the government has prioritised in its roadmap.
If the government is really serious about progressing technologies to reduce emissions, then they need to show us ARENA's money.
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