The Kritic

‘Media Watch’ Category

King coal dethroned

Looks like it’s time to abdicate. – Source William Wallace Denslow

King coal still reigns” was the headline emblazoned across a full page article in The Weekend Australian on the 28-29 April 2012, by Environment Editor Graham Lloyd. The article’s subtitle was, “The world is in the grip of a fossil fuel boom that shows no sign of fading”.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The latest data on global investment in new power production shows the dramatic decline in fossil fuel investment, and an astonishing increase in renewables investment.

In 2004, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the International Energy Agency, investment in renewables was $52 billion, with $250 billion invested in fossil fuels. By 2008 the peak in fossil fuel investment had arrived: it dropped to $140 billion, while renewables overtook it with $155 billion in investment.

By 2010 the amounts were $90 billion in fossil fuels and $211 billion in renewables, and by 2011 only 14% or $40 billion of investment was in fossil fuels while 86% or $260 billion was in renewables.

King coal has in fact been dethroned. It will take a while for the global power system to phase out old power stations and be dominated by renewables, but the transition is proceeding much faster than imagined by most institutions, as well as media like The Australian. The International Energy Agency predicted in 2008 that the world would build 64 GW of coal generation in 2010, but when the dust settled on projects built in 2010, only 14 GW of coal was actually built.

Graham Lloyd’s article says that, despite the good intentions, renewable energy projects are struggling to get finance, yet he gives no data to support this.

Bloomberg reported that the 2011 investment in renewables was made up of 59% solar (the price of solar photovoltaic cells fell 50% over this period, leading to a 36% growth in their purchase), 33% wind and 8% smart energy systems, such as smart grids that enable renewables to be more easily accommodated.

But surely this is not happening in Australia, where king coal must still be in control of the market? Bloomberg found the data is clear here as well: in 2011 coal attracted just 17% of value of completed electricity generation projects, gas attracted 36%, and renewables 47%* (of this 41% was wind and solar was 6%).

The emerging economies of China and India have become the dominant source of this global renewables investment. In 2004, Bloomberg New Energy Finance showed that the developing world contributed just one-fifth of renewables investment, but by 2010 the developing world contributed more than half the growing total of renewables.

Australia is not leading the charge on the adoption of clean energy, but it is certainly part of a global movement that will be seen in history as one of the great shifts in economic change. Perhaps King Coal is highly aware of this dramatic fall in its dominance in the power market place.
The role of Murdoch’s media empire in talking up Old King Coal seems to be one of the “fiddlers three”, trying desperately to help keep the king merry as his kingdom collapses.

This article was authored by Peter Newman, Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University and co-authored by Ray Wills, CEO of the Sustainable Energy Association.

*ED: This initially read 41% and has since been corrected.



This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Let me start by offering my condolences to Peter Kurmann’s family. Mr Kurmann was a father, husband, son and sibling in his family. I am sure he was many other things to his friends and his community.

For those of you that are unaware; Mr Kurmann died as the result of an apparent shark attack accident on March 31, 2012 at Stratham Beach south of Perth, Western Australia.

Mr Kurmann is the unfortunate nucleus of the latest media sensationalism. It’s not a new one, it is the same old attention seeking, scaremongering antic that goes on every time there is an incident with a shark.

I regularly scan Google News for headlines I may be interested in. The top story is usually accompanied by an array of photos and links to the various news reporters websites. This time was no exception. When I first noticed the breaking story there were two photos of sharks and one of Mr Kurmann. As the rest of the media outlets caught on the number of lead in photos increased. The proportion of shark photos increased and the style of shot became more dramatic.

These dramatic images were for only one reason;
To terrify the public.


Shark Sensationalism
(Click on image for larger screenshot)

I think the ultimate award for sensationalism AND Bad Form goes to Adelaide Now… With their heading “Terror as shark takes man” and the appalling collage of images that they used at the head of their article.

Adelaide Now… story header image collage
(Click on image for full insitu screenshot)

Thumbs DownAdelaide Now…(@adelaidenow), its Editors as well as Yasmine Phillips, Ashlee Mullany and what appears to be Joe Spagnolo need to rethink their policy on the use of such a distasteful graphic. I for one feel there should be an apology posted by this website, its Editors and the staff involved.