Abbott’s London Address & Turnbull Back-Track

Environment Policy Week

My Commentary yesterday accurately predicted that the scheduled AFR Energy Summit and Abbott’s address in London would spark active discussion on energy policy, which necessarily involves environmental policy too. The address at the AFR Summit by Environment Minister Frydenberg indicates that the Turnbull government seems to have made a start at determining what its policy will be, although even after the many statements that “it’s coming” it seems it will not be finalised until the end of the year.

This continues the uncertainty  which has existed since the Finkel report was commissioned by Turnbull (through COAG) in October 2016 and published in June this year. Now, it seems, the Finkel recommendation for a Clean Energy Target may not be accepted as the subsidisation of renewable (and a renewable target?) may cease. That is (potentially) good news, but what about the other elements in the policy, such as reducing the emissions target announced in Paris?

This reminds one of Turnbull’s earlier ducking around on tax policy. The decision not to announce a comprehensive policy before the end of the year adds weight to the need for the Liberal Party to replace Turnbull as leader if it is to give itself any chance in the election. Further delay would likely see more voter support for the Bernardi Australian Conservatives and One Nation.

Abbott’s London Address

The widely foreshadowed address by Tony Abbott to a sceptical Think-Tank in London received what might be described as a “mixed” reception viz no mention in the Fairfax Press and some in News Limited, including commentary by Andrew Bolt (but only published digitally last evening) and the publication by The Australian of an edited version and an editorial. The lunchtime news by the ABC quoted Shorten’s comment that Turnbull is too weak to rebut Abbott.

I have not attached The Australian’s edited version of Abbott because  the full text is well worth reading in full and is made available here. Here I simply draw attention to some of the more important points in the full text which have long been known within sceptical circles but which have generally been ignored or downplayed in official political and bureaucratic circles and in many academic ones. Now we have a leading Australian politician setting out in public many of the “overlooked” points which should be seriously considered and taken into account when determining energy policy.

  • ”Palaeontology indicates that over millions of years there have been warmer periods and cooler periods that don’t correlate with carbon dioxide concentrations”;
  • ”Prudence and respect for the planet would suggest taking care not lightly to increase carbon dioxide emissions; but the evidence suggests that other factors … are at least as important for climate change as this trace gas … Certainly, no big change has accompanied the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration over the past century from roughly 300 to roughly 400 parts per million or from 0.03 to 0.04 per cent”;
  • ”Contrary to the breathless assertions that climate change is behind every weather event, in Australia, the floods are not bigger, the bushfires are not worse, the droughts are not deeper or longer, and the cyclones are not more severe than they were in the 1800s… More than 100 years of photography at Manly Beach in my electorate does not suggest that sea levels have risen despite frequent reports from climate alarmists that this is imminent”;
  • ”It may be that … the world might start to warm rapidly but so far reality has stubbornly refused to conform to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s computer modelling. Even the high-priests of climate change now seem to concede that there was a pause in warming between the 1990s and 2014”… unadjusted data suggests that the 1930s were actually the warmest decade in the United States and that temperatures in Australia have only increased by 0.3 degrees over the past century, not the 1 degree usually claimed”;
  • ”The growing evidence that records have been adjusted, that the impact of urban heat islands has been downplayed, and that data sets have been slanted in order to fit the theory of dangerous anthropogenic global warming does not make it false; but it should produce much caution about basing drastic action upon it”;
  • ” …higher concentrations of carbon dioxide … are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields…a gradual lift in global temperatures…  might even be beneficial…it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm”;
  • ”In the medium term, there must be – first – no subsidies, none, for new intermittent power (and a freeze on the RET should be no problem if renewables are as economic as the boosters claim); second, given the nervousness of private investors, there must be a government-built coal-fired power station to overcome political risk; third, the gas bans must go; and fourth, the ban on nuclear power must go too in case a dry country ever needs base load power with zero emissions.
  • ”The government is now suggesting that there might not be a new Clean Energy Target after all. There must not be – and we still need to deal with what’s yet to come under the existing target.
  • ”That’s the reality no one has wanted to face for a long time: that we couldn’t reduce emissions without also hurting the economy; that’s the inconvenient truth that can now no longer be avoided”
  • ”The only rational choice is to put … Australia’s standard of living first; to get emissions down but only as far as we can without putting prices up. After two decades’ experience of the very modest reality of climate change but the increasingly dire consequences of the policy to deal with it, anything else would be a dereliction of duty as well as a political death wish”.

Properly handled, the adoption of the foregoing and other perceptive statements by Abbott provide a potentially election winning agenda.

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