In a piece in the Spectator Flat White, I address the unpalatable choices Australia faces if Biden is, indeed, President-elect.
Biden’s “Climate 21 policies” focus on net zero emissions and, supported by a two trillion-dollar spending program, drive all his policy agenda.
In forcing greenhouse gas emission reductions, a Biden Administration would resume the path that Obama embarked upon. A President Biden, working through the Paris Agreement, would see a US-EU axis adopting more radical abatement measures.
To reduce loss of industry, this would need to redefine world trading rules so that imports carry the same baggage that the US/EU impose on their own producers. Biden showed a willingness to use such pressures with his threat to tax Brazil’s imports if its government refuses a $20 billion offer to stop Amazonian “deforestation”. Boris Johnson, judging by the latest UK abatement proposals, would concur.
Many in Australia (Greens, most ALP, half the Coalition) would support such policies and their associated disciplines but an outcome would be a loss of energy intensive industries and a contraction of many others processing agricultural and mineral products.
Australia’s current greenhouse abatement policies already impose a $13 billion a year burden in taxes and higher electricity costs. Energy Minister Angus Taylor claims that by 2030, a net zero by 2050 policy means a 43 per cent cut in emissions rather than the 26-28 per cent in place (the ALP went to the last election with a 45 per cent reduction).
But new options may be presenting themselves with Australia joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade deal with China, Japan, India and Indonesia – countries that place a low priority on climate change matters.
Australia’s trade links are now Asia-oriented but a close association with the UK and US has defined Australian foreign relations for two centuries.
Biden’s win may set the stage for a global re-alignment in which Australia finds itself divorced from Europe and North America, with implications for national defence. and international posturing The alternative is an intensification of the domestic anti-carbon energy policies that are crushing the nation’s industrial capabilities. Bleak choices!