Peter O’Brien on the Paris Agreement

During the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years there were many issues that ruffled my feathers.  But one stood out.  One issue had me on edge most of the time.  That issue was illegal immigrants.  It was a constant irritant to my mental well-being.  The thought of the resumption of the trade – almost inevitable under a Shorten government – is the major factor giving me pause to vote against the current version of the Liberal Party.  I had no such qualms in relation to the execrable Turnbull version.

Now it’s a different issue.  This time it’s ‘climate change’ or, as we should always remember to call it, the Unproven Theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (UTCAGW).  For me, it lurks in the background of, and distorts, almost any public policy consideration.  And we all know the instrumental role it has played in the destruction of five Prime Ministers.

Let me give you an example of this distortion.  It was probably the principled and articulate Andrew  Hastie – more power to him – more than any other MP who crystallized opposition among government MPs to the late unlamented NEG.  He took the view that legislating the Government’s Paris target of 26% as part of the NEG was a step too far and would ‘relinquish our sovereignty to the UN’ or words to that effect.  That principled and easy-to-understand excuse gave wavering MPs a fig leaf to oppose what they must have known in their hearts was a dog’s breakfast.  So thanks to Andrew Hastie.

However, in truth, Hastie’s logic is challengeable.  If the Government truly believed that reducing our CO2 emissions was a worthwhile effort to save the planet, rather than just a virtue signalling exercise to keep local Green activists off their back, then what choice did they have, in order to achieve such reductions, but to legislate in some way?  Or did they expect to say to industry and consumers “C’mon chaps.  Take one for the planet and cut your emissions.  You know you can do it”.

Cutting emissions necessarily involves a cost to users otherwise it would have happened by now, so good luck with that approach.

Recently, Judith Sloan wrote in The Australian :

The renewable energy sector claims the emissions cut of 26 per cent that is our Paris Agreement commitment will be met by the early 2020s.

The renewable sector may well make that claim and it may, indeed, turn out that the electricity sector achieves a 26% reduction by 2020.  I’ll believe it when I see it.  However the claim that this is meeting our Paris commitment is completely false.

Richard Alston, of all people, also repeated this line on a Sky News interview the other night.  And, the otherwise incisive, Chris Kenny also consistently conflates 26% reduction in the electricity sector with our Paris commitment, even stating in his Kenny On Sunday program that, ‘the Paris Agreement is neither here nor there’.

As Catallaxy readers will, hopefully, know the 26% target relates to the whole economy not just to the electricity sector, which comprises on 30% of our emissions.

So the Paris agreement is not ‘neither here nor there’.  It may not be front and centre in the energy policy of the Morrison government but it’s still lurking in the background, ready to give an incoming Labor government (which will happen, if not next year, then as soon as three years later) a springboard to launch, let me coin my own acronym, a Catastrophic Economic Destruction (CED) offensive against all sectors including electricity, agriculture and transport.  It is disingenuous of the Government to shove Paris onto the backburner and pretend that if we get electricity emissions down then that’s Paris done and dusted.  And it is dereliction on the part of columnists to, wittingly or unwittingly, co-operate in this illusion.

It should be an easy task for a ‘Liberal’ government to craft a narrative that exposes the costs that Labor’s insane 45% target would impose on the economy.  Well it would, except that this Government doesn’t itself know how much their own 26% target will cost.  Nor what benefit in terms of temperature reduction it will achieve. No-one has done any cost-benefit analysis of this whole proposition.  It makes Turnbull’s $444 million gift to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation look like good governance.

If we take a long term view – and it will have to be very long term as far as the Morrison government, let alone Shorten Labor, is concerned – budget repair is the most critical task facing us.  So why am I fixated on UTCAGW?  Because budget repair starts with the lowest hanging fruit and, if argued convincingly, UTCAGW is it.  Evidence has shown that very few people will even agree to a voluntary $2 carbon offset when they fly.  So how much more receptive will they be when it is made clear to them that 26% emissions reduction in the electricity sector is just the start of the pain.

To be honest it is hard to escape the conclusion that for many of the Liberals, the Paris Agreement is, in fact, no more than electoral virtue signalling.  Even the new Energy Minister Angus Taylor, said to be a UTCAGW sceptic, has today tacitly endorsed the notion of ‘climate change’ as a ‘happening thing’

In his speech, the new Liberal minister declares himself a “lover of the environment” and says he has seen the impact of climate change at his family’s farm in southern NSW.

That is disappointingly mealy-mouthed.  Many sceptics acknowledge the reality of natural climate change as opposed to contrived ‘climate change’.  I suspect Taylor believes that human CO2 emissions have little or nothing to do with what is happening on his family’s farm.  If that is so, why couldn’t he say so?

The Paris Agreement is a ticking time bomb.  If the Government wants to fight Labor, rather than accommodate them and their fellow travellers, as well as commence the task (oops I almost said ‘fightback’) of budget repair, the first step must be to repudiate the Paris Agreement – itself a first step to, gradually I accept, winding back the whole UTCAGW madness.  Without that step any sensible narrative is doomed from the start.

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25 Responses to Peter O’Brien on the Paris Agreement

  1. jupes

    Remember when the main principle of government was to govern in the national interest?

    The government signed and ratified an agreement that punishes Australia by forcing us to cut our puny CO2 emissions while allowing the two biggest emitters of CO2 to increase theirs.

    How is this even remotely in the national interest?

  2. A Lurker

    The Coalition are either a bunch of witless virtue-signalling cowards, or they are willfully complicit in the destruction of our economy, our society, and our way of life.

    Either answer makes them unfit to govern.
    I pray that the Good Lord drops a sizable meteorite on Parliament House, Canberra.

  3. jupes

    In his speech, the new Liberal minister declares himself a “lover of the environment” and says he has seen the impact of climate change at his family’s farm in southern NSW.

    Any minister who presides over policy that is hurting Australia is a traitor. They should be punished as such.

  4. stackja

    Walk away from Paris. Donald has.

  5. Le Chiffre

    The deceit by omission which renders Australia’s CO2 cuts unnecessary is that the Australian continent and ocean territory actually absorbs nine times more CO2 than it emits !

  6. Speedbox

    As I understand it, Australia’s CO2 emissions are measured on a production rather than a consumption basis.

    Further, and if my understanding is correct, our coal mining activities result in the assignment of the resultant CO2 from the burning of that coal, elsewhere in the world, to Australia. If that’s true, then why is it our problem? Surely the Chinese, Indians and others who buy and burn our coal are responsible for their own emissions and taking steps (if any) they deem appropriate to mitigate those emissions.

    (happy to be corrected if my understanding above is inaccurate).

    Separately, and as pointed out above, the electricity sector is only 30% of our ‘commitment’ to the overall compliance with the Paris agreement. FMD. This is going to be bloody expensive not to mention destructive to our economy. What’s next? Slaughter 10% of the national herd of cattle and sheep? Impose penalties and targets on our transport sector? (watch transportation costs go parabolic!). Those two acts alone would cause extraordinary inflation/wage demands.

    And for what? To support a highly questionable theory that a trace element in our atmosphere is actually harming the broader environment.

    the Australian continent and ocean territory actually absorbs nine times more CO2 than it emits

    Yeah, I was always under the impression that Australia was, in reality, a CO2 sink. Again, more dishonesty from those who will bankrupt us.

  7. I take issue with the term “Unproven Theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (UTCAGW)”.
    First of all, there is no such thing as ‘scientific proof”. Science is a process which is used to DISPROVE an invalid hypothesis.
    Secondly, the nonsense that is CAGW is not and never was a ‘theory”. At best it simply a hare-brained hypothesis.
    Only one observation is necessary to disprove such hypotheses. In the case of hypothetical ‘global warming’ the observation that surface air temperature has been in decline since the Holocene optimum about 8 milenia ago is sufficient. There is no evidence to support such a preposterous hypothesis. Zip, Zero, Nada.
    “Climate change” is a nonsensical phrase. Climate by its very definition is regional. While any region’s climate varies slightly from one thirty year period to the next, there are no regions which have experienced a sustained change in the last hundred years or more, apart from those situation where inappropriate land use is the culprit.
    The solution to this current politically correct nonsense is to call it out for what it is: the greatest betrayal of the well-being of the human race since time began.

  8. David Brewer

    I wish I wish.

    But it’s no good “disavowing” Paris. Whatever Morrison does, it will still be there to be revived by Shorten after the election. And attacking it now only makes Shorten’s election more likely, as he can pose as a defender of the environment. Regrettably I think Morrison is right to just keep saying “yeah, yeah, sure, sure”, while quietly dismantling as much of the renewables craziness as he can.

  9. RobK

    Good post, but….
    “Unproven Theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (UTCAGW).  
    I prefer to use the term “Anthropogenic CO2 conjecture”(ACOC).
    In this context the term “theory” is grossly unsuitable and the term hypothesis implies that it is the subject of testing, which clearly isn’t the intention. (“Unproven theory” doesn’t really make sense).

  10. AH

    There is nothing wrong with leaving it up to individuals and businesses to cut their emissions.

    Those that care can cut their emissions be 50%, 80% even 100%. They can even subsidise their friends and family to cut their emissions, or donate to a large fund that can pay for poor people to cut their emissions nationwide.

    Instead of lobbying the government to enforce emissions reductions, those that care can lobby their friends, family and people in their community directly. They can purchase television commercials telling everyone how important it is to follow in their example. They can go door to door like Jehovah’s Witnesses and talk to people about climate change and make their recommendations.

  11. Speedbox

    I agree that language is important so we need to continue to tell Mossison et al that the “Unproven Theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (UTCAGW)” or the “Anthropogenic CO2 conjecture” (ACOC) is utter bullocks and we are deeply hostile towards it. Whatever name is is known by.

    Sadly, I suspect that DB is correct. It is all just marking time until Shortarse gets in and then we are truly buggered.

  12. Megan

    I pray that the Good Lord drops a sizable meteorite on Parliament House, Canberra

    I am adding this to my prayer list as of tonight.

  13. BoyfromTottenham

    AH said: ‘There is nothing wrong with leaving it up to individuals and businesses to cut their emissions’. The problem is AH that the Paris Agreement applies to the government of each country not the individuals and businesses, so our various commitments under the Paris agreement can’t be ‘left to individuals and businesses’, except by exiting the Agreement and then telling individuals and business that they can voluntarily ‘cut their emissions as much as they want’. I sincerely hope that our ‘next generation’ government has the gonads to do the sensible thing and follow Trump, but I’m not holding my (CO2 filled) breath on that.

  14. Iggie

    How to cut our emissions.
    More subsidized renewables + carbon tax = higher electricity prices, less manufacturing, lower electricity use = lower emissions.
    Easy peasy. .

  15. Hydra

    It would be a lot easier to meet the emission reduction targets if companies had cheap electricity with which to innovate.

  16. Rossini

    Stupid Forken Liberals wouldn’t know how to win the next election.
    Unless they walk ………..RUN…. from the Paris agreement …..I hope they are decimated at the next elections
    and never return.
    Forken idiots

  17. Empire 5:5

    David Brewer
    #2805582, posted on August 30, 2018 at 3:51 pm
    I wish I wish.

    But it’s no good “disavowing” Paris. Whatever Morrison does, it will still be there to be revived by Shorten after the election. And attacking it now only makes Shorten’s election more likely, as he can pose as a defender of the environment. Regrettably I think Morrison is right to just keep saying “yeah, yeah, sure, sure”, while quietly dismantling as much of the renewables craziness as he can.

    Capitulation is never a winning strategy.

    Political expediency founded on lies is the road to defeat.

    Thermogeddonism is dead. We are witnessing the period between the shot and final expiration in all its B-grade schlock glory.

    Trump digs coal. Enjoy the show.

  18. Skuter

    Maybe, just maybe, instead of squealing for ‘bipartisanship’ and ‘certainty’, the whole energy industry needs to admit that they backed the wrong horse and accept the consequences of that.

  19. struth

    If the UN are only enforcing the west to cut emissions and letting China and the likes of India go absolutely nuts building coal fired power stations, then you know for a fact they don’t believe in man made Climate change for a second, and see no threat to the world whatsoever.
    Paris agreement is only part of a sustained attack on westrrn nations by global socialist UN.
    We are not obliged or beholden to what a trator signed us up to without asking us.
    International obligation. …….fuck’n spare me.

  20. Faye

    Easy, take away the subsidies, grants, etc from all of the CAGW pushers and renewables shysters and watch them disappear.

  21. Gerry

    “Cutting emissions necessarily involves a cost to users otherwise it would have happened by now, so good luck with that approach.”

    The US is reaching its targets with fracking essentially. No costs to taxpayers.

  22. Kneel

    “The US is reaching its targets with fracking essentially. No costs to taxpayers.”

    If we replaced existing coal-fired power stations with HELE coal-fired stations, bingo! Immediate 30% emissions reductions in the electricity sector. Boom! Done. And you can keep your reliable power, to paraphrase the previous US president.

    “…take away the subsidies, grants, etc from all of the CAGW pushers and renewables shysters and watch them disappear.”

    Just so.

  23. Tom Atkinson

    There is an urgent need for extensive education of the public on this issue. The education would be to impart the idea that CAGW is only a theory, has not been proven, and any efforts to halt or slow it down will cost the country dearly – and have already cost.
    The government should be prepared to spend a few million dollars on the campaign. TV ads, print media, youTube and Facebook. Some ads short and sharp, others giving more details.
    One little problem of such a campaign, however, is that it would call into question the competence of most of the recent governments wrt their approaches to the issue!

  24. the new Liberal minister declares himself a “lover of the environment” and says he has seen the impact of climate change at his family’s farm in southern NSW.

    Many farmers are genuinely concerned about cyclical changes they have noticed on their properties – particularly those whose families have farmed for several generations. Some – reflecting the wider community’s confusion – are unsure if such changes are simply climate variability – or connected to the effect of our species on this “open system” that is our planet.

    I suspect, from the scepticism of Taylor dating back to 2013, that he probably subscribes to climate variability.

    Nonetheless, lest the road ahead be strewn with Coalition corpses, we are unlikely to see an immediate withdrawal from the Paris Accord. This is not to say that Taylor will not devise a policy that simply ignores the dictates of the bureaucratic supra nationals.

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