Where to with climate change policy?

BrisbaneIt seems Malcolm Turnbull will add climate change to the growing collection of policy areas, including funding for schools and hospitals, where he will essentially kick the can down the road to after the election. The third phase of The Climate Change Authority’s Special Review is due by 30 June 2016. That report will “recommend what action Australia should take to implement outcomes flowing from the Paris climate conference in a final report by 30 June 2016.”

Obviously the Turnbull government will not formulate a response before a July 2 election.

While I was away overseas last year, CCA chair Bernie Fraser resigned. He was admirably tight-lipped about his reasons, but clearly he was out of synch with the Abbott government.

Abbott had intended to scrap the CCA, viewing it as a Labor-Greens partisan body. However, he was forced to keep it at least until the next election in a deal with Clive Palmer’s PUP in exchange for getting rid of the carbon tax. Yet a question hung over the body because four members who had left soon after the election were not replaced.

In October last year five new board members were appointed, including Wendy Craik as chair. Widely respected, she was deputy chancellor of the University of South Australia, and had also served on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Productivity Commission and the Murray Darling Basin Commission. Her first stint in public life was as head of the National Farmers Federation.

The other new board members were:

  • Kate Carnell, the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a former Liberal chief minister of the ACT
  • Danny Price, an economist and managing director of Frontier Economics, who has advised the government on its Direct Action policies that replaced the carbon price scrapped in July 2014
  • John Sharp, a former Nationals politician and federal transport minister in John Howard’s government before stepping down after questions raised over his use of ministerial travel expenses
  • Stuart Allinson, the chief executive of Bid Energy.

The other Board members are Professors John Quiggin, David Karoly and Clive Hamilton, Chief Scientist Alan Finkel ex officio, and Andrew Macintosh, Associate Director of the ANU Centre for Climate Law & Policy.

Certainly there has been an attempt at ‘balance’, but not with people who understand climate science, and it’s not immediately clear what John Sharp would have to contribute at all.

The appointments were approved by Abbott and confirmed by Turnbull in one of his first actions as PM. The five-year term of the new appointees is hopeful.

Richard Dennis in this article raised the question as to whether Turnbull will distinguish himself from Abbott in climate change policy. It seems not, at least not before the election.

Alan Stokes in the SMH thinks the election is really between Turnbull and Abbott. Only only one will survive. Stokes thinks

    it’s been 20 per cent change and 80 per cent continuity – including the appalling dog whistling and hounding of minorities, along with the absence of a clear, cohesive and unified narrative on tax and the economy.

It has been reported that the National’s support for Turnbull was conditional on no change to climate policy.

If electors vote for that other bloke Bill Shorten PM, he has a Climate Change Action Plan.

It includes:

  • Net zero emissions by 2050
  • 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030
  • An emissions reduction target of 45 per cent by 2030 as the basis to consult with business, community groups and stakeholders.
  • An Emissions Trading Scheme.

Labor will:

    establish a series of incentives in the economy that drive innovation – encouraging new technologies, and ensuring that our economy charts the most efficient pathway to decarbonisation.

They cite:

    wide support in Australia with the Australian Climate Roundtable – a group comprising the Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Council of Social Service, The Climate Institute and the Australian Conservation Foundation – pledging support for a net zero emissions economy by the middle of the century.

There is no indication that there will be new compensation for the effects of an ETS. Abbott of course retained the compensation as a tax cut when he pulled the plug on the tax, making his budget balance significantly worse.

No hope is held out for reaching a 1.5⁰C temperature increase, effectively sacrificing the Great Barrier Reef and some of our island neighbours.

There is more, but those are the main points.

With Turnbull we have stumbling on with largely discredited policies inherited from Abbott, a promise to look at whatever the CCA serves up after the election, in a caucus environment which is hostile to realistic action on climate change.

3 thoughts on “Where to with climate change policy?”

  1. Prime Minister Turnbull and Environment Minister Greg Hunt, will ratify the UNFCCC COP 21 Paris Agreement in UN NY April 18-22 to “STOP” global mean temperature rising 2 degrees when no global physical protocol “how” has been tabled. Worse, under PM Turnbull the Australian anthropogenic drought desert regions have increased more than 2 degrees. His Murray Darling Basin plan has rubber stamped the further draining of the catchment water adding to increase temperature and exhausted food bowl. The UN and World leaders also report the Planet has little soil left to grow food, or to sequester the mass CO2 build-up!
    Australia’s mining manufacturing virtually stopped, drought deserts expand unabated, and within 5 years the UN will declare Australia, a drought nation! Without a national perpetual base business to be tabled before the next National Election our young cannot plan on perpetual income to buy homes /health. Without total reparation of The MDB and expanding drought-deserts, our rural Families and depending communities supporting services and duty of care will fail very, very, soon.

    Some simple Climate Change lesson for the PM, Deputy PM, Environment Minister and Chair of the MDB report, (1) in ancient times before man following mass volcanic eruptions causing and mass pollution, drought & deserts, Mother Nature grew the 2-4% of vegetation to sequester CO2 to grow sustainable carbon and nutrient rich soil. (2) then other vegetation re-grew exciting rainfall to upper catchments and critical ground /aquifer flows. What took Mother Nature 1,000 of years, Australian’s can do by 2020-25. (long proven model below).
    The UN NY sign-off designed by nations MPs without any form of expertise last December is to convince there voting citizen “they are worthy of re-election”. Earth and Her serious predicament cannot wait for some magic switch to stop climate change. Mother Nature demonstrated by may mass volcanic events how to restore to our Business/home “Earth”!

    So by heading to UN NY to ratify COP21 qualifies the above MPs have no environmental understanding and their sole intent is to say to Voter “see, we are doing something”.
    The UN & CSIRO report 83% of all business is related to water and soil so, forget the magic UN 2degree “vision of a switch”, tell the voters “Australia is to become Farmers Herders again, and feed a soil short hungry world, all funded by UNFCCC CO2 100 year offset trading. The income will pay out our expanding global debt, educate our young in good health! If we all work as we did to build Australia, lets plan on tax reduction as we are all shareholders in Australia Inc. April 22 no NY, but, the MPs will have shovels starting to re-build our historical base business. Ask your MP and Senate where they will be April 22.
    Vote at the election for whom ever is to restore a life for the historians of tomorrow.
    PS I am declining my UN invitation to support rubber stamping in NY April 22. I helped write Kyoto Protocol and am foreign Expert to PRC to teach lowering 8Bn Tonnes CO2 pa. Without Prejudice Robert Vincin

  2. Its pretty clear that his primary focus, John D, is saving his own wealth.

    I wonder if he gets a mention in the Panama Papers?

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