Cancun can-do is a con

The Fin published an op ed of mine this morning under this snappy headline.

It addresses the fantasies of Ross Garnaut, the beneficiary of ALP patronage and tireless booster of the party’s credentials.  In an earlier piece, Garnaut had argued that the climate change meeting in Cancun, the least ambitious of a dozen or more such confabs, was successful in bringing about lower greenhouse gas emission levels.

Here is my piece

Ross Garnaut says that carbon dioxide emissions are on track to meet targets set at the 2010 Cancun international climate change meeting.  Whether or not this is true it is irrelevant.

Unlike the 2007 Bali climate change meeting, where Kevin Rudd basked in international adulation by signing Australia up to the doomedKyoto agreement, Cancun imposed minimalist disciplines. Friends of the Earth described it as, “a weak and ineffective agreement (which) gives us a small and fragile lifeline.”

Recognising the essentiality of fossil fuel use, developing countries at Cancun simply committed to greenhouse gas emission levels based on business-as-usual. China is central to this.  Soon after 2030,China’s dominance of world manufacturing will bring greenhouse gas emissions in excess of those of the US and EU combined.

But China is taking no steps to mitigate emissions.  Its Cancun targets are expressed in terms of CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, the aim being to reduce its 2020 emission intensity by 40-45 per cent compared with 2005.  Meeting that goal will only take China to Australia’s current level of emissions per unit of GDP.

China’s emission reductions owe nothing to income-sapping carbon tax and mandatory renewable policies – in 2020 wind and solar will contribute only 0.3 per cent to electricity supply.  Commercial decisions are the sole deliverers of lower carbon emissions per unit of GDP.  These include closure of outdated plant and rapid expansion of new more efficient plant, a bi-product of which is lower emission levels.   In addition, China, unlike Australia, has no moratorium on new hydro capacity and nuclear power.  Zero carbon emitting nuclear power under the Five Year Plan will increase its share of electricity from one per cent in 2010 to 6 per cent by 2020.  Although coal’s market share will decline, it will still account for over two thirds of electricity supply and its generating capacity will double.

Developed countries are also avoiding new emission abatement measures.  While their politicians enjoy the accolades of the green commentariat, cold reality usually dominates policy actions.  Thus, Canada’s Kyoto commitment was to reduce emissions by six per cent below their 2000 levels by 2012, but with emissions tracking at 30 per cent above this, Canada simply abandoned the pledge.  Last month, Japan became the latest country to drop its greenhouse reduction targets, which involved a 25 per cent reduction in emissions.

Europe, the epicentre of climate orthodoxy, is now re-examining its greenhouse gas abatement policies.  These are aggravating the region’s economic demise.  They are hurtling it towards Angela Merkel’s nightmare where Europe becomes merely “an interesting place to visit”.

Like Europe’s emission policies, those in Australia are also causing economic damage.  We have a carbon tax, which at $23 more than doubles the wholesale electricity price and is fivefold the EU’s carbon tax.  Australia shares with the EU crippling requirements for the use of wind generated electricity which costs over twice as much as electricity from coal.  The costs these measures do not effect emissions at the global level, but do cause relocation of industry and lower income levels.

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14 Responses to Cancun can-do is a con

  1. Alan-

    It turns out that Cancun and Rio this past summer were more for show and an excuse to party than a real working session. The real work and the truly fascinating policy briefs were created for the Planet under Pressure conference that took place last March in London.

    It is where I first read about the Belmont Forum and the Future Earth Alliance both of which Australia is also involved in. The Earth System Science Partnership dissolved as of December 31, 2012 and FEA took over. They were looking for an interim Director too last time I looked. is based on confessions laid out in a book from the early 90s on using CAGW to change education, politics, economics, science, pretty much everything. It quotes Anthony Giddens that even if global warming does not turn out to be true, hyping it has the desired effects of fostering change.

    Then Ulrich Beck, a German, is quoted as saying it is all an excuse for the Metamorphosis of the State in Western countries.

    I would say it is working. The Chinese know all this and are not playing. As far as they are concerned the West is moving towards their system of a state directed economy benefiting political insiders and cronies.

  2. Token

    It turns out that Cancun and Rio this past summer were more for show and an excuse to party than a real working session.

    No surprises.

    The machinery for this scam are all in place. Now they are collecting the cash and enjoying the perks.

  3. Token

    The Chinese know all this and are not playing. As far as they are concerned the West is moving towards their system of a state directed economy benefiting political insiders and cronies

    The CCCP are not stupid. This organisations has more billionares as its members than any other group on the planet.

    They won’t be able to stay in power for as long on possible if they operated based upon dreamy Western aspirations and unicorn fart power.

  4. Tony

    $23 doubles the wholesale electricity price – this implies wholesale electricity prices have been $23/MWh prior to the carbon price. Did you fail maths or are you just loose with the truth.

    This type of hyperbole doesnt help.

  5. Sleetmute

    Great stat on China, Alan. Apologists always go on about what China is doing to reduce its emissions intensity. And you were being generous by referring to GDP in PPP terms. In USD terms China is much ‘worse’.

  6. alan moran

    Doubling may be hyperbole but here are the current prices per MWh ($1/tonne carbon tax equates to $1/MWh coal based elecricity).

    NSW1 $51.45
    QLD1 $52.51
    SA1 $51.1
    VIC1 $47.99

    Though the current prices are abnormally low, you may be confusing wholesale and retail prices in thinking the numbers are exaggerated

  7. Sleetmute

    Tony, for the 2011/12 fin year, average wholesale prices were $30/MWh in NSW, $29 in Qld, $30 in SA and $27 in Vic. Admittedly, peak demand was quite low in that year but still, Alan’s point is far from hyperbole. Perhaps you should do some research before insulting people.

  8. “I would say it is working. The Chinese know all this and are not playing. As far as they are concerned the West is moving towards their system of a state directed economy benefiting political insiders and cronies.”

    We’re trying to out-corrupt China; a considerable challenge. But if we (they) try hard enough, they (we) will get there eventually.

    If Abbott doesn’t considerably dismantle the rampant, institutionalised cronyism, he will be a monumental failure. Merely delaying the complete corruption of Australia for 3 or 6 years is not good enough. On this count Howard failed, sorry to say.

  9. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    cold reality usually dominates policy actions

    Except in Australia, where a uni-dimensional warmist reality exists as a completely parallel policy universe. We are girt by more than just sea.

  10. johanna

    I sometimes think the US has a death wish.

    They borrow money from China to buy – solar panels from China! Then they raise the price of electricity to accommodate solar subsidies, and industry and consumers get slugged again (over and above their taxes to keep the loans rolling over).

    We would be not far behind had not the Howard government left the economy in good shape and the public sector in the black.

    The Chinese have done a lot towards fostering a booming economy, but they sure have had a lot of help from lemmings in the West.

  11. Jim Rose

    alan, In 2010 at Copenhagen’s final private negotiations, Obama, Brown, Sarko and Merkel sat down with He Yafei, the Chinese vice-minister of foreign affairs. Wen Jiabao refused to attend most of the negotiating sessions.

    Given the choice of walking out and sitting down with a vice-minister, they choose humiliation.

    one response of Obama was: “It would be nice to negotiate with somebody who can make political decisions”

    There is a tape of this meeting on der spiegel linked at

  12. brc

    johanna- but Howard erected all the pieces for Labor to put a carbon tax in place. He was all for the RET and talked about implementing an ETS in the midst of all the warmy frenzy of 2006/7.

    There is no way that Labor could have put in a carbon tax without the Australian Greenhouse office. And all the Kyoto rubbish was already in place, including the restrictions on clearing land (which is all that carbon credits are, in one form).

    Howard put in place at lot of the things that Labor went on to finish. On that score, I’m less of a believer that Abbott will really reform anything.

  13. johanna

    brc – I agree. Both sides of politics all over the world caught the CAGW virus around 2007, its peak.

  14. jupes

    I don’t want to hear about China.

    The good news is that Australia has banned incandescant light bulbs so global warming is crawling back under the rock it came from.

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