2
Dec
2018

US Wins at G20; Morrison Meets Trump; Germany Fails To Successfully Employ Renewables; Stone on Immigration

US Wins at G20 and Morrison Performs Well

Although there has been a “final statement” by leaders attending the meeting of the G20 in Argentina, the text does not seem available on the web and nor does the communique. However, some media are reporting on what was agreed. The outcome on trade was expected to reveal something on the what has been described as a dispute between the US and China (but which has implications for all trading nations). It appears that the US did succeed at G20 in obtaining agreement that the present arrangements need to be changed. The words reported as being used in the communiqué are as follows

“International trade and investment are important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development,” the communique says. “We recognise the contribution that the multilateral trading system has made to that end. The system is currently falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement.”(see G20 Meeting According to the Guardian)

The US also appears to have successfully downplayed the notion that globalised agreements on policy issues are the way to go.According to the Guardian report, in particular “speaking off the record, a senior US official told reporters the US “specifically preserved and explained our position for why we’re withdrawing from the job-killing Paris agreement”. The official claimed to have seen signs of “the coalition fraying” among some signatories to the Paris deal, “like Turkey, like Saudi Arabia, like Russia”. Separately, it is reported that all except the US agreed on retaining Paris, although some only agreed reluctantly (the next IPCC meeting starts in Poland tomorrow). Note also the downplaying of the role of the IMF.

Historically, international meetings such as the G20 (which started with meetings every six months but these are now only yearly) have in practice had little effect on policy decisions made by individual countries, particularly by the US. Under Trump’s Presidency the US will be even more “nationalist” in its influence (particularly through his White House adviser, John Bolton) and, even with the establishment of China as a more influential nation internationally, there is no sign of “globalisation” of policies.

However, the meetings do provide an opportunity for smaller countries such as Australia to meet with the larger countries and let their leaders know of any bilateral support or opposition. Morrison took advantage of this in his 25 minute meeting with Trump, which occurred because Trump cancelled his sideline meeting with Putin because of Russia’s attack on the Ukraine navy. While it appears that Morrison failed to use the opportunity to explain why Turnbull ceased to be PM, he seems to have indicated support for the US on trade and on its policy on Iran and terrorism generally. According to Weekend Australian, “the Trump administration views Mr Morrison as a hardliner on border protection and has looked favourably on the Prime Minister’s pushback against Iran and his review considering shifting Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem”.

Trump certainly gave Morrison a big tick (see Morrison’s Meeting with Trump) and he should now use that to his advantage in Parliament and in enunciating Liberal policies. But as The Australian’s political editor points out, he can’t do it all himself. Rather, “Morrison needs to broaden that argument into a strategy based on policies that have been worked through with his colleagues and give his fractured followers something to focus on apart from each other” (see Shanahan on Morrison). As I argued in my Commentary last Thursday, Morrison needs to indicate that Turnbull’s (losing) policies have been changed and, in particular, his energy policy must ensure that electricity prices will fall substantially not through the so-called big stick approach but through a competitive market.

Energy Policy

On Energy Policy, there are recent developments which reinforce  the views of skeptics on policies reducing CO2 emissions. These include

  • An assessment by a German analyst that “More and more people are about to realize, that supplying the world with stable energy from sun and wind only, will be impossible. Germany took on the challenge to show the world how to build a society based on green energy. They have now hit the wall. Germany has not reduced CO2 emissions over the last 10 years despite huge investments in green energy production capacity” (see Interesting Comment on Renewable Energy);
  • An assessment by a local physicist of the composition of C02 suggests that  not only are ocean sources and plant sources independent but only some 27% of fossil fuel emissions remain in the atmosphere;
  • An analysis by Swedish sea level expert Nils-Axel Morner indicates that, contrary to IPCC reports, the rate of increase in sea levels has not increased.
  • Increased analysis showing mistakes in official temperature measurements which falsely show a faster increase in temperatures and a failure to acknowledge that the cause of increases is importantly due the natural causes.

The Morrison government could reduce the sympathetic beliefs by sections of the public, including last week’s street rallies by 10 year old children, that temperature and other weather changes are due mainly to human-caused production of fossil fuels. That would require a publication of a comprehensive report authored mainly by skeptics and should help the government justify the modification of existing targets of emissions and renewable.

Stone on Immigration

I have previously drawn attention to arguments advanced by Stone for a substantive reduction in immigration rates and for not signing up to the UN playing a role in advising on immigration policy. He has now published an article in Spectator complimenting Morrison on the government’s decision that Australia will join the US, Israel, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria in refusing to sign the UN’s ‘Global Compact on Migration’. At the same time he asks why the UN proposal to provide advice on refugees has been signed by Australia and why Morrison’s announcement to consider a reduction of only 30,000 from the immigration target of 190,000 (see Stone on Immigration). He points out that “Australia not only has a large and exceptionally costly refugee and other humanitarian resettlement program, but also makes contributions to countries (e.g., Jordan) where refugees are encamped, and in many cases to their countries of origin (most notably, Afghanistan)”.

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