2
Jul
2017

Abbott Advocates Different Policies & More Problems with Turnbull’s Climate Policy

Abbott’s Continued Advocacy of Policy Changes

My Commentary last Thursday repeated earlier suggestions that the only way to reverse the Coalition’s 47/53 TPP polling is to replace Turnbull. This has become more possible now that Abbott has continued to advocate the adoption of policies more in line with the stated objectives of the Liberal Party.  It is reported in today’s Herald Sun that he will also be talking tomorrow in the Deakin electorate currently held by Michael Sukkar, who is presently an Assistant Treasurer in the Turnbull government (see Abbott to Make Another Talk). Significantly, this is a marginal seat and, as it will go to Labor if existing polling is not reversed, Sukkar has doubtless realised the need to present a different Liberal party to his electorate. Separately, the Herald Sun has run an interview with Turnbull in which he said that he would quit politics if he loses being PM.

Abbott has not said he would himself move to replace Turnbull but he is giving other possible candidates the opportunity to use the kind of policies he is advocating to stand against Turnbull when the existing Parliamentary recess finishes in about 5 weeks.  At present, any such candidate faces the situation that political commentators in the media favour Turnbull against an Abbott challenge. This can be seen from the attitude taken in the attached article by the political editor of the Herald Sun/Daily Telegraph on Abbott’s decision to make another presentation.  An even stronger, indeed extreme, anti-Abbott position has been taken by political correspondent David Crowe in The Australian and by chief political correspondent Phillip Coorey in the AFR.

However, those papers’ editorials are more balanced (see, for example, the Aus Editorial on Coalition) and The Australian also runs some more sympathetic individual commentators. Nor is the Canberra media “club” well regarded outside. For existing Coalition MPs there is now no escaping  the likelihood that the Coalition will lose the election if Turnbull stays.

Energy Policy   

An additional opportunity now exists for a possible challenger to Turnbull to use the latest development in assessments of climate policy.

In Thursday’s Commentary I drew attention to Henry Ergas’s references to flaws in the Finkel report (incl errors and overstatements of the advantages of renewable) and to an analysis by Dr Michael Crawford indicating that the large increase in electricity prices over the last decade (reversing the fall in the previous 40 years when coal was the principal source of power) mainly reflected the increased use of renewable. These two analyses indicate that Turnbull’s support of the Finkel report is way off beam and open to be challenged.  So far, Abbott’s proposed changes in energy policy have been limited to stopping any expansion in renewable usage (now about 15% cf Finkel’s 42% by 2030) and building a big coal-fired power station.

But an analysis in the Weekend Australian provides an additional opportunity to question the case for government intervention to reduce emissions of C02 from usage of fossil fuels and, in particular, Australia’s target of a 26-28% reduction by 2030. That target was, of course, set during the period Abbott was PM. But it is entirely voluntary and there is no penalty in failing to meet it. Abbott and/or his supporters could not be blamed from changing minds if the case for government intervention is further diminished or eliminated altogether.

The analysis by The Australian’s official Environment Editor, Graham Lloyd, suggests that it is greatly diminished. He points out that, while a paper written by well-known warmists Santer, Mann, and England (but published in a reputable journal), is justified in claiming  that  “internal variability could explain differences between modelled and observed tropospheric temperature trends in the last two decades of the 20th century”,  it does not explain “the divergence for the past two decades of this century, the time of the pause” (see Lloyd on Climate Modelling). What Lloyd means is that, while there may be acceptable explanations of the reasons for the changes in temperatures from about 1980 to 2000, the paper effectively admits that it has no acceptable explanation for the “pause” in temperatures since then. Yet this pause period occurred at a time when emissions of C02 were increasing and casts further doubt on the dangerous warming thesis.

Lloyd also notes that, despite this serious analytical deficiency, the authors of the paper do not alter their view that there will be warming in the future if emissions continue to increase. My interpretation is that “we got it wrong this time but it doesn’t mean that our dangerous warming thesis is wrong. That remains a threat we have to deal with”!

Climate expert Bill Kininmonth has also analysed the paper and concludes that “the authors are blinkered in their analysis – they still believe they can regulate the climate by turning the CO2 knob (see further below). Kininmonth says “we are witnessing a new line of obfuscation” and points out that “internal variability was an inconsequential factor” in explaining temperatures in the last two decades of the 20th century. He suggests that “global temperatures are changing for reasons in addition to CO2 increases and indeed the natural variability is likely more important than CO2”. And “this means that the future is no longer predictable”. If it can’t be, there is no rationale for government policies supposedly designed to control future temperatures.

Physicist Tom Quirk has also pointed out that “before 1977 we were thought to be entering a new ice age but the Great Pacific Climate Shift moved us all into a warming period with warmer water in the North Pacific Ocean. This ocean change is also found in the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2. These ocean changes are not yet predictable and so cannot be modelled. The best description of those doing the calculations is the old Polish statement from Soviet times – the future is certain, only the past is unpredictable”.

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