I don’t often agree with Greg Sheridan but when he described Scott Morrison’s announcement that Australia was sending weapons to Ukraine as “performative symbolism,” he was right on the money.
We transferred a few million dollars to the people who do have weapons – a token gesture that Morrison wants acknowledged by the Ukrainian President in an address to our parliament. After all, he addressed other countries, why not take time out from the war to thank us too.
But as they furiously point over there, Australia reels from the cumulative onslaught of drought, fire, flood, heatwave, cyclone, storm surge and new diseases.
Nothing underlines the “performative symbolism” of the Morrison government more than their pretence at taking action on climate change.
In response to criticism from the UN secretary general, government MPs were quick to show their true colours.
Matt Canavan said the UN should “read the room” and accused it of being “asleep” as “Europe has got itself into an absolute vulnerable mess because they failed to develop their own fossil fuels.”
“It is clear now that what we need to do is restore natural resource production to the free world … For the UN here – they are not only so hopeless on Ukraine … Now they’re actively undermining our peace and security, and we should totally ignore them.”
Paul Fletcher told ABC News Breakfast the “chattering classes of the UN can say what they want” while Australia was “delivering outcomes” like a 20% emissions reduction since 2005. That was a “better performance” than the US, Canada, and New Zealand, Fletcher said.
That claim requires so much cherry-picking that it is beyond credible.
Excluding LULUCF or changing the starting year to 1990, when the data begins, puts Australia well behind the pack. The claim also doesn’t acknowledge the effect of the pandemic and compares recent data from Australia to pre-pandemic data from other countries.
Comparable emissions reduction data from 2005 to 2019:
- The UK: -34 per cent
- France: -19 per cent
- Germany: -20 per cent
- Italy: -32 per cent
- Australia: -15 per cent
Pep Canadell, chief research scientist at the CSIRO Climate Science Centre and the executive director of the Global Carbon Project, told Fact Check the sudden drop of around 5 per cent between 2019 and 2020 was the result of “a pandemic problem that has nothing to do with structural changes of energy, or economic system.”
The government has told us that they are committed to a fossil-fuel led recovery in Australia and continued expansion of mines and exports and support for the industry.
Any pretence otherwise is, as Mr Sheridan put it, performative symbolism.
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