Whoever wins the next election is going to face a monumental task to reduce our emissions in order to tackle the existential threat posed by climate change.
In one way, it would serve Scott Morrison right to have to face the consequences of his lies. But the country cannot afford someone who thinks prayer is the answer to the drought.
Our Prime Minister, the man charged with making the decisions on how to keep us safe, is a bald-faced liar.
When Barrie Cassidy asked ProMo on what he had based his claim that we would meet our Paris emissions target “in a canter”, we were subjected to the greatest load of waffle.
“..one swallow doesn’t make a summer, and I know that plenty of people will leap on that and say that you need to do X and Y and use those numbers for that purpose, but it means that we’re going to meet Kyoto 2 and we’ll smash that number. We smashed Kyoto 1.”
Aside from the fact that Kyoto 1 allowed us to actually increase our emissions by 8%, and that the only way we might meet Kyoto 2 is by fancy accounting practices, ProMo is deliberately and knowingly falsifying the information his own departments are giving him.
According to the report on Australia’s emissions projections produced by the Department of the Environment and Energy in December last year, “Total emissions in 2030 are projected to be 570 Mt CO2-e, which is 5 per cent below 2005 levels.”
Hang on. Weren’t we supposed to be cantering past a 26% reduction?
Far from increasing our modest 2030 target, as most of the rest of the developed world is doing, the report further states that “emissions in 2030 are projected to grow by 3.5 per cent above 2020 levels.”
Huh? How is a projected growth in emissions being sold as us meeting our commitments to reduce them?
Every five years, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) produces a national report on the status of Australia’s forests. This is extremely important as the vast majority of our claimed reductions are coming from the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector (an emissions reduction of 114.9% since 1990 supposedly).
According to the 2013 State of the Forests report, “The best available source of such data is currently satellite imagery interpreted for Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory,” yet the latest National Greenhouse Gas Inventory report says “Processed satellite images are not yet available to support the calculation of emissions estimates for 2017 and 2018.”
But that hasn’t stopped them from claiming even more reductions.
In 2016, a group of leading ecologists voiced their alarm at new data which showed the clearing of 296,000 hectares of forest in 2013-14. This was three times higher than in 2008-09, kicking Australia up the list as one of the world’s forest-clearing pariahs. Then Queensland’s Department of Science report on land cover change, published in September 2017 showed a staggering 395,000ha of clearing for 2015-16: a 133 per cent increase on 2014-15.
Alarmingly, land clearing in the Great Barrier Reef catchment in the year to June 2017 was at its second highest level in 10 years. 152,000 hectares were cleared in the catchment last year, marginally less than the amount cleared in 2015/16.
That takes the total land cleared in the catchment in the last five years to 770,000 hectares — an area about three times as large as the ACT
When asked about these figures, Environment Minister Melissa Price said it was mainly a state issue and that net land sector emissions had declined since 2004/05, ignoring the fact that, in May, the Federal government approved the bulldozing of nearly 2,000 hectares of forest on Cape York’s Kingvale Station despite warnings that the clearing would add to the sediment load running onto the Great Barrier Reef.
“This declining trend reflects lower emissions from forest clearing and native forest harvesting, and more sequestration in regrowing forests,” Ms Price said in a statement. “We know climate change is a big issue for the Reef and this is why we have invested more than $400 million to help protect the reef through the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.”
Except the GBRF have specifically stated that they will have nothing to say, let alone do, about climate change.
When asked whether the foundation would be willing to lobby governments for policies to reduce emissions, land clearing and stopping coalmines, head of the GBRF Ms Marsden said: “It’s absolutely not in our strategic view at the moment.” Their goal is “boosting the Reef’s resilience so it can bounce back from and survive challenges like a changing climate and water quality issues.”
Ms Price has also heralded a return to Direct Action, once again ignoring the fact that just one year of clearing has removed more trees than the bulk of 20 million trees painstakingly planted, at a cost of A$50 million.
As Greg Jericho points out, including LULUCF figures in our emissions reduction targets is “disgraceful” because we used years when there was very high land-clearing as our base years and are allowed to “bank improvements merely due to us being less bad now than we were, not because we have actually improved our emissions.”
What is even more disgraceful is the lies being told.