A Breakthrough on CChange Policy?
It would be premature to claim a breakthrough in the Morrison government’s climate change policy. But a potential starting point may have been made with its decision to count carried-over emissions credits from under the first and second Kyoto agreements to help meet the 2030 target of a 26% reduction in carbon emissions set by Turnbull in Paris. What this seems to mean is that energy section emissions will now have to fall by only 17 per cent, while transport and agriculture emissions are actually forecast to continue rising until at least 2030.
In total, Australia’s carbon emissions in 2030 would be only 7% lower than in 2005 but this would be in accord with the 26% lower target. That will still require further reductions in emissions between now and 2030 but much less than if the 26% reduction was followed. If Morrison sticks with this “new” policy, the Coalition would be in a much better position to contrast its policy with the 45% reduction adopted by Labor for 2030.
In particular, it will give the Coalition scope to argue that its policy will have a relatively small adverse affect on the economy/international competitiveness compared with Labor’s policy. Although Labor has not said it will not use credits, Labor spokesman Butler commented that “It is clear the Liberals are burying their heads in the sand and ignoring the vast majority of Australians who are crying out for desperate action on climate change”. This suggests it will stick with its 45% reduction policy (see Morrison Uses Carbon Credits to Meet Target).
Of course, it would be much better if Morrison were to indicate that Australia will now not make any further emissions reductions, which it appears to have done in regard to transport and agriculture. There is an implicit acknowledgement here that those industries should not suffer any adverse economic effects. So, why not go the whole hog?
OZ Attitude on CC Also Seems More Flexible
Today’s Australian also seems to adopted a more flexible approach to CC policy. It does this in three ways.
- First, it has published more letters which mostly question the science (sic) used to justify emissions reduction policies (see OZ Letters Complain on CChange “Science”). These included my letter as follows
A Failure to Explain Climate-change Link with CO2
Letter Published in The Australian on 22 December (Ed Deletions in Square Brackets)
You correctly point out that “Australia should not accept measures that would damage our economy for nugatory gains in climate mitigation” and that “too often there is a yawning gap between climate rhetoric and reality” (Editorial 21/12). [Too often too the rhetoric originates from the UN Chief you quote].
The missing reality is the failure of some climate scientists and politicians to examine whether the predicted effects of climate changes actually happen. [Yet ]since the year 2000, temporary increases aside, global temperatures have been relatively stable despite the strong increase in carbon emissions staying in the atmosphere. Temperatures also remained stable in the post WW2 period to the late 1970s in the face of increasing emissions. Where is the explanation of the apparent lack of a correlation between increases in carbon emissions and temperatures, which the rhetoricians claim?
This unanswered question suggests the [danger] threat from usage of fossil fuels has lost credibility and policies aimed at reducing emissions should be re-examined . Australian governments should not continue policies to reduce emissions unless climate scientists can explain the periods of relative price stability in the face of increasing emissions. As Doug Hurst wrote yesterday, “the best Christmas present we could give ourselves would be to accept reality and cancel our futile and wasteful renewables policies”.
Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic
- Second, it supports the adoption by Morrison of past carbon credits as part of its policy of reducing emissions by 26% by 2030. This is an acknowledgement by The Australian that it does not see the need for Australia to adopt such a large reduction adopted under Turnbull. Even the Fairfax press seems to accept that it is legitimate to adopt “UN accounting rules … which are effectively turning it into a 15 per cent cut on 2005 levels” (The Age, 22/12).
- Third, The Australian’s editorial says “it is reasonable to argue that by meeting its Paris commitments Australia is doing too much. It is entirely unreasonable to suggest we are not doing enough. Those who argue that global warming is a looming crisis — if they are interested in science and facts — can only conclude the crisis is escalating despite our costly efforts. Yet they argue to double down on this futility”. This again adopts a more flexible approach towards how to treat Climate Change policy in a world where it is increasingly evident that many other countries are not taking the dangerous threat seriously (see OZ Supports Use of Credits to Meet Targets).
The foregoing, together with other developments mentioned in my earlier Commentary, provides more hope that CC policies are moving in the right direction.