On the subject of...

Global Politics

14
Oct
2018

IPCC Report

My Commentary on Friday 12 October examined the IPCC report and, inter alia, drew attention to the fact that “there have been two periods since the early 20th century when temperatures have been relatively stable despite CO2 concentration levels having increased strongly. This suggests little or no correlation between the two ie prima facie, this means that even though human activity does contribute to CO2 concentrations, they could be having only a minor effect on total temperatures”. I also pointed out that, as only a relatively small proportion of CO2 concentrations appear to stay in the atmosphere, this suggests that other factors are likely to be more causitative contributors to temperature increases. By contrast, the IPCC analysis implies that temperature increases are all due to increases in CO2 concentrations and that this conclusion is science-based.
30
Sep
2018

ABC, Energy Policy, Trump at UN

There is one thing that emerges from the ABC shenigans, viz it establishes a strong case that there is now no need to have a public broadcaster covering the field, even if there was when it was established. The private sector now has many broadcasters and has ready access to “news” about what is happening overseas and to the views of visiting “experts” from overseas. This extends to the rural sector as well as the urban, although the former does not have as wide an access. There is a marvellous opportunity for the government to review the role of public broadcasting
27
Jul
2018

Questioning Continues Regarding Effects on Pricing under NEG

Today’s Australian reports that the views of three groups in the Senate appear to depend on whether and/or by how much the supposed final version of NEG will reduce costs. Pauline Hanson says she is “strongly against” the NEG and wants to pull out of the Paris accord requiring reduced carbon emissions as coal-fired power stations would deliver cheaper power. Senator Leyonhjelm, the Liberal Democrat, said he wanted to see evidence the NEG would dramatically lower power prices before he would back the deal: “they need to fall by at least 50 per cent to restore competitiveness and take pressure off households”. The Centre Alliance’s Rex Patrick said he and Senate colleague Stirling Griff backed the NEG’s goals but their vote would depend on how much the policy brought down power bills: “we would expect on the pricing side for there to be a clear indication of what the savings will be, and that the modelling that generates those savings is released publicly, including all assumptions that were made,” Senator Patrick said (see Some Senate Opposition to NEG).
16
Jul
2018

Frydenberg Gets Help with NEG O’Seas

Today’s AFR reports it had an exclusive interview with the executive director of the International Energy Agency, Faith Birol, about the Turnbull/Frydenberg NEG policy (I have highlighted the major points made). This appears to follow Frydenberg’s private meeting with Birol purporting to explain NEG and a speech to diplomats and energy policy makers at IEA’s Paris HQ. He also claims to have briefed “key” Trump officials and chairs of US energy committees in Washington.
22
Jun
2018

Turnbull’s Questionable Energy Policy

The debate on energy policy between the Coalition and Labor has seen both up to now adopting the same policy of reducing emissions of CO2 but with Labor supporting a much larger reduction. But we now we see an open split within the Coalition, with Abbott warning that a number may cross the floor and vote against the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). In Abbott on NEG he argues that the Turnbull government has conducted a “fundamental failure of process” that has been “stifling the proper debate that we should be able to have inside our party room”. He argues that the government has spent an “enormous amount of time” negotiating with the crossbench, but warned the backbench was being ignored. “I reckon the government needs to spend a bit more time talking to the backbench. “Yes, the crossbench in the Senate is important. Don’t forget the backbench, because you are only in government because you’ve got a backbench that’s prepared to support your legislation”.
16
Jun
2018

Interpreting the Summit

As might be expected with a meeting which lacked definitive agreements, the media (and other commentarists) containmuch speculation today about what has happened and what might now happen. The general reaction seems to be that, while NK has agreed in principle to denuke, that is no different to what his father and grandfather did and it is unlikely that much will be achieved on that side. On the Trump side there are expressions of concern that too much has been conceded unnecessarily.
14
Jun
2018

More on Assessing Summit, ANU Further Exposed

In yesterday’s Commentary I suggested that the immediate media responses to the Summit missed two important points – Kim is no long in a closed shell and Trump has not been given adequate praise for bringing him out. The media has improved today but remains too equivocal about the prospects because very little agreed substance has emerged so far. We are left, therefore, with judgements about whether Kim and Trump will do what they say they will –and to what extent. The most readable assessment has been made by Cameron Stewart, who is posted in the US by The Australian and is well-equipped to assess Trump and other US leaders: nobody is equipped to assess Kim, of course. I am using Stewart’s article to draw attention to the main points of concern below (see Stewart on Summit).
13
Jun
2018

Summit, Debate on West Continues

The media response to the Summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un has been to welcome it but express reservations because there is little of substance to date. According to The Australian, “the intentions are clear but the details are missing”; Greg Sheridan asked whether the summiteers “laboured mightily to bring forth a mouse”; and The Age asked whether it is “a game changer”. But while these are legitimate questions, as are some of the other comments (see North Korea Must not be Allowed to Deceive Again and Trump, Kim Exchange Praise at Singapore Summit), they miss the two most important points.
11
Jun
2018

ANU Disease Spreads; G7 Win for Trump

The refusal of the ANU to accept a course on Western Civilisation has “inspired” support from other academics. By contrast with the Vice Chancellor at the ANU, the VC at Sydney, Michael Spence revealed on June 5 he was considering entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Ramsay Centre to collaborate on a funded course and scholarship program. Dr Spence described the course as “really interesting” and “very, very far from the kind of thing you might imagine”. “It is all primary texts: there is certainly nothing like Harold Bloom in the curriculum,” he said, referring to the prolific but polarising US literary critic.(According to Wikepedia, Bloom has inter alia surveyed the major literary works of Europe and the Americas since the 14th century, focusing on 26 works he considered representative of the Western canon, which is] the body of books, music, and art that is widely accepted –but subject to dispute- as the most important and influential in shaping Western culture).
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