The failed attempts by various media to identify a major difference in climate change policies between Australia and the US has had one virtue – it has stirred wider interest in the issue. Remarkably, it has led The Age letters editor to accepting a letter from me, albeit after discussion with the editor and much editing by her (see below). Still, I think the main message comes across.
The Australian’s editorial – “President Obama’s barren record on climate policy” – has also ridiculed what it describes as “media fulminating” and pointed out that Obama has little to show for his fulminations. Regrettably, while recognising that cheaper gas in the US is the principal influence in reducing usage of coal, The Australian has not identified the proposal to reduce coal usage as part of Obama’s “barren story”. The editorial has also reverted to its support for reducing emissions with a carbon pricing system, albeit not by leading the way internationally. This missed the opportunity to support an independent inquiry into the dangerous warming nonsense.
It is also rather surprising that, according to political correspondent Crowe accompanying Abbott, he appears to have gone out of his way to publicly praise Obama as having “extraordinary personal gifts” (see article below). This may be seen as appropriately diplomatic but, particularly given Obama’s recent strange decisions, it seems to have gone a bit far.
That apart, first reports of the Abbott/Obama meeting suggest that differences in climate change policies do not appear to have featured: doubtless those predicting serious problems will apologise!
The more important immediate point arising since the meeting relates to security issues. The deteriorating situation in Iraq has reportedly led Obama to offer assistance (but not so far troops) to Iraq and to Abbott indicating a preparedness to consider a request from the US, including it appears in contributing troops if that occurs. As the insurgents are clearly extremist Islamists, there is a strong case for intervention by the US and, given our relationship there, by Australia too. A take-over of Iraq by such extremists would be a set-back for the democratic institutions established there after the US intervention (albeit far from working perfectly) and would have serious adverse implications in other parts of the Middle East.