In six weeks’ time, we will see if Malcolm Turnbull is a leader of substance or a snake oil salesman.
You have to admire his courage in deciding to personally attend the climate change talks in Paris but if he tries to push the Greg Hunt propaganda, he will get called out on it. Some 150 of the 200 or so countries attending have submitted their plans to move to a low carbon future and I doubt they will take kindly to spin.
Both the IMF and the World Bank, along with a growing number of world leaders, are calling for a price on carbon but Malcolm promised the Nationals and the right of his party that he wouldn’t do that.
As recently as July, we had two Western Australian Liberal MPs calling for an inquiry into the evidence of human influence on climate change.
“I’m open to being convinced but the data and the evidence that I’ve seen [on climate change] thus far certainly I don’t find compelling,” said Dennis Jensen. “You get the appeal to consensus when the data and the evidence is weak and it’s an appeal to authority rather than examining the data and the evidence.”
Dr Jensen said he was not alone within the party, and that there were “at least” 10 MPs who shared his view that the Government should not sign up to emissions cuts without a parliamentary inquiry.
We have Cory Bernardi whose argument runs along the lines of “Well, the Earth’s climate changes all the time, always has, always will and this happened well before we came along burning fossil fuels. Oh and by the way the world stopped warming since 1998 and I just saw an article the other day saying Chlorofluorocarbons were the real culprit of warming not CO2.”
Senator Fierravanti-Wells reminds us that CO2 is plant food which I assume means she thinks increased levels will be good for agriculture.
And then there’s George Christensen who, when addressing the Heartland Institute last year, said “The weather and climate in Australia has not changed in the last century but a new religious interpretation has arisen since then. When we are in a flood, they tell us ‘too much rain is a sign, more hurricanes is a sign, fewer hurricanes is a sign, the sky is blue – it’s a sign, gravity – it’s a sign’.”
The most strident critic of carbon pricing and the man who worked tirelessly to bring it down, Barnaby Joyce, is being touted as our next leader of the Nationals and Deputy Prime Minister.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said this month that the El Nino was now on course to challenge the 1997-98 event as the strongest on record, and was not expected to peak until late this year.
September was not only the seventh month so far this year to set a new record for heat, it was also the most anomalously hot month in 135 years of data, NOAA said and predictions are that 2015 will easily eclipse heat records in previous years.
Malcolm is going to have to explain why we are approving huge new coal mines and, with China and India both looking to cut coal imports, it is unlikely the ‘lift them out of poverty’ excuse will wash on the international stage.
Will he defend the Direct Action Plan that he previously described as “bullshit” and prohibitively expensive?
In an interview with the Guardian, Turnbull said “If something isn’t working as well as you want, chuck it out. I’m not afraid of people saying, it’s a backdown, or a backflip, an agile government is prepared to abandon policies that don’t work.”
We shall see.