Australia succeeded in coming bottom of the class of 57 countries on climate policy, achieving a score of 0.0, ahead of the USA on 2.8 and Turkey on 4.8 in a race to the bottom. That is out of 100, where Portugal got 98.7 and Finland 98.
Internationally we are seen as ‘an increasingly regressive force’, so a negative score would have been appropriate.
Apart from promoting the expansion of fossil fuels:
Experts note that the new government is an increasingly regressive force in negotiations and has been criticised for its lack of ambition by several Pacific Island nations in the context of this year’s Pacific Island Forum. The dismissal of recent IPCC reports, the government not attending the UN Climate Action Summit in September, and the withdrawal from funding the Green Climate Fund (GCF) underpin the overall very low performance in the Climate Policy category.
That was from the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index, prepared by a group of think tanks comprising the NewClimate Institute, the Climate Action Network and Germanwatch. They looked at national climate action across the weighted categories of emissions (40%), renewable energy (20%), energy use (20%) and policy (20%).
Overall Australia came sixth last, ahead of Iran, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Here’s the list:
Australia has succeeded in reducing its standing on climate change action by refusing to increase its Paris commitments and brazenly using carry-over credits from the Kyoto Protocol. Greg Jericho did a hatchet job on this stunt in The Coalition isn’t being honest about the climate crisis. But neither is Labor*. He has an excellent graph on the Coalition’s record on emissions:
Frank Jotzo in Here In Madrid, The View Of Australia’s Tricky Tactics Is Not Pretty reminds us that Australia was given special exemption in the Kyoto negotiations to include land use in what became known as the “Australia clause”. We were also granted permission to increase emissions by 8% when most developed countries reduced emissions.
The peak in LULUCF (Land use, land-use change, and forestry) in 2005 coincides with Peter Beattie introducing punitive vegetation management laws in Queensland.
Without LULUCF Australia’s emissions rose from about 420 Mt to 540 Mt during the Kyoto period, or about 28%. So the “carryover credits” were basically fictional, a con.
This article in RenewEconomy shows a table projecting emissions from 2019 to 2030:
From 2005 to 2030 the total drops from 611 to 511, a reduction of 100 Mt. However, 99 of that comes from LULUCF.
Substantively we are doing nothing.
About 100 countries at UN climate talks are challenging Australia’s use of carryover credits.
Bill Hare, the chief executive of Climate Analytics in Berlin and a long-time adviser to developing countries at climate talks, said using carryover credits was opposed by three major negotiating blocs – the alliance of small island states, the least developed countries group and the independent alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean – as well as Canada, Switzerland and Norway.
The sad fact is that decisions at the UN talks are based on consensus, so Australia can simply veto against any motion banning the use of carryover credits. It will do so at the expense of its already appalling reputation. However, trade negotiations are another matter. France has already nominated emissions as a factor at play in negotiations between Australia and the EU on a trade deal.
If you listen to the first segment of the latest ABC RN Religion and Ethics Report (0.40 to 6.00) Andrew West interviews the Reverend James Bhagwan from Fiji, a Pentacostal and General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches. Bhagwan was attending the UN climate talks in Madrid.
He said 80% of the Christians in the Pacific Islands area were Pentacostals. They judged fellow Pentacostals by their deeds and in those terms Scott Morrison, a Pentacostal, had been found wanting. Bhagwan explains using the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. In climate terms the Pacific area was like the man beaten and bleeding on the side of the road. Morrison was like the Pharisee who walked on by.
He objected to Morrison using Pacific language to claim to be a good neighbour. He suggested Morrison would need to repent and seek forgiveness, like the prodigal son, in order to have “right relations” with his neighbours.
Greta Thunberg in her speech to the UN meeting in Madrid said:
- “The politics needed [for effective climate action] does not exist today despite what you might hear from world leaders. And I still believe that the biggest danger is not inaction. The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening when in fact almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR.”
If you read the text, she had more than Australia in mind, but it fits us perfectly.
Meanwhile Angus Taylor and Morrison continually repeat their claim the Australia is taking strong action on climate. Taylor said the the solutions lie in technology.
Strange that Taylor and Morrison are now spruiking 50% renewable energy by 2030, which from Labor during the election was seen as economy wrecking.
Michele Grattan reports that Morrison’s spin is not stretching far enough to cover people’s concerns in her Friday piece Climate winds blowing on Morrison from Liberal party’s left. So some further largely cosmetic manouvres are in the pipeline.
*On Jericho’s incorrect and intellectually lazy assertion that Labor is being dishonest about the climate crisis, I hope to look at the real-world dilemma Australia faces with the coal export industry. Jericho has joined the ranks of people who expect political actors to be angry and shouty if the are to be taken seriously. Why would you expect a party to announce fully-formed policies three years out form the next election?
Labor has said multiple times that there will be no retreat, that they will follow the science, that climate change action is core business for the Party. On multiple occasions they have criticised the Coalition’s lack of an effective climate policy, as in Labor blasts government’s ’truly inadequate’ climate policies following scientists’ recommendation.
Did it occur to Jericho that the conference he was flying to was part of Labor reviewing its policies, that one of the guest speakers was Jeremy Rifkin, who advises China and Germany on how to governmemts can transact in the world that is to come, who written a library of books, including the hydrogen eceonony (in 2002) and the Green New Deal, or is he too perpetrating journalism that is looking for eyeballs? At least Michelle Grattan understands that Albanese can’t go on a listening tour in Central Queensland while telling them through a foghorn how they should live and what they should think, making the speech that Richard Flanagan has helpfully written for him.