Craig Kelly says he wants wind and solar funding to be redirected to research into ‘technological breakthroughs’ because existing renewables had ‘little effect’.
The Liberal chairman of the Coalition’s environment policy committee, Craig Kelly, has questioned solar and wind power subsidies and would like a cost-benefit analysis of future emission reductions policy, due to be reviewed next year.
Kelly was named chairman of the environment and energy committee at the party room meeting on Monday, making him responsible for coordinating backbench feedback to the government on climate and energy policy.
He said he was proud to be a climate sceptic rather than “wallow in groupthink, to be a sheep, or a lemming”.
Kelly described himself as in the “Bjorn Lomborg” camp, suggesting wind and solar funding should be channelled into “further research” because those current renewables like wind and solar power had “diminishing returns”.
Kelly said such changing the funding directions could create less emissions reductions in the short term but would have greater gains in the longer term.
“I’m in Bjorn Lomborg camp, you have to put resources into a technological breakthroughs because [wind and solar] is on periphery and having so little effect,” Kelly said.
His comments came on the day the governor general outlined the Turnbull government’s three-year strategy when opening the parliament. In the speech written by the prime minister’s office, Cosgrove lauded the Solar Communities program, which provides funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Kelly took to his Facebook page to quote Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, saying “the interest of [subsidy receivers] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public”.
“I want to keep the debate going to see what is the best policy and what the costs are,” he told Guardian Australia. “There should be a cost-benefit analysis on these policies because one thing that greatly concerns me is the amount of people having their electricity cut off, because they can’t afford the bills.”
Kelly said while he accepted that there had been temperature changes that had occurred since the mid 1700s and 1800s, there was no consensus around its causes.
“The question is how much is CO2 induced and how much is natural?” Kelly said.
“There is no consensus on that science, that warming is 100% result of CO2 but I accept part of it is CO2 induced.”
Kelly said on energy policy it was important for people to accept the importance of low-cost energy – given the more people had to spend on electricity, the less they had to spend on the economy.
“If we let prices creep up, we are going price ourselves out of the market,” he said. “By subsidising the cost of solar, that puts upward pressure on electricity prices and by setting targets for certain emissions, that puts upward pressure on prices.”
Kelly said in considering the price of power, the option of nuclear power should be considered, though “the case has not been made out for nuclear power in Australia and I doubt that it actually will”.
Kelly has previously argued the British officer Watkin Tench’s statements about Sydney summers in 1790-91 showed heat was extreme hundreds of years ago. But on Tuesday he said his article was a bit “tongue in cheek” to show up people who suggest one hot day was proof of global warming.
“Read the history, read how careful these guys were with measurements and how things were happening, there is anecdotal evidence of mass deaths of bats and birds,” Kelly said.
He said while the rate of warming in the past 20 years had not been in line with predictions by the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change predictions, he did not think the planet was cooling – in the past 150 years.
“No I don’t accept the argument that the planet is cooling, it has been warming for 150 years but it depends on how far you go back in time,” he said.