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.