In November 2015 in the lead up to the Paris climate summit, then Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced that Australia had already achieved a 5 per cent reduction in emissions based on 2000 levels.
“We have closed the gap and go to Paris officially subzero and on track to beat our 2020 target,” Mr Hunt said. “This still remains a conservative forecast, and I am hopeful that future updates will show an even greater surplus.”
After missing the September 2016 Quarterly update, the Department of Environment and Energy released the December Quarter figures on Friday which tend to indicate that Greg Hunt is a liar.
Total emissions for Australia for the year to December 2016 (including Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry) are estimated to be 543.3 Mt CO2-e. This figure is 2.0 per cent below emissions in 2000 (554.4 Mt CO2-e).
Aside from 5% being a totally inadequate target, if it has taken us 16 years to reduce emissions by 2%, what are the chances of reducing them by a further 3% by 2020?
One thing you can certainly rely on is that the government will fudge the figures.
Josh Frydenberg tweeted “Emissions data released today …. NB: electricity sector emissions decreased by 1.3% in Dec Qtr.”
What he doesn’t mention is that “For the year to December 2016, emissions increased 1.4 per cent on the previous year.”
In fact, emissions have been going up steadily ever since the Coalition formed government in 2013.
It is also apparent that the government is knowingly trying to hide, or at least obfuscate, this information.
Departmental correspondence obtained under FOI confirmed advice that the data be released “from March 31” and that the team was “preparing for release of the full set of accounts late on Friday 26 May”. But that did not happen. They waited until a Friday afternoon in the winter recess.
They deliberately decided there would be no Departmental press release and instead, provided a list of “possible talking points” (read here’s a number or two you can quote but don’t tell them the overall picture).
When Malcolm Turnbull staged his coup, he promised to “respect the intelligence of the Australian people.”
“We need to be truly consultative with colleagues, members of Parliament, senators and the wider public. We need an open government, an open government that recognises that there is an enormous sum of wisdom both within our colleagues in this building and, of course, further afield.
Remember this, the only way, the only way we can ensure that we remain a high wage, generous social welfare net, first world society is if we have outstanding economic leadership.”
Like so many of Turnbull’s fine words, his actions belie them.
By conflating citizenship with national security and conferring power without oversight on the Immigration Minister, the Turnbull government has artificially created fear and division.
By imposing the religious beliefs of the few on the many, the government is advocating discrimination against people on the basis of their sexuality.
By pursuing those on welfare whilst ignoring corporate tax avoidance and overly generous tax concessions for investors, the government is asking those who are most in need to subsidise those who have the most.
By undermining unions, they have taken away the workers’ collective bargaining power leading to stagnant wages, insecure employment and unsafe workplaces.
By lumbering us with FttN broadband, the government has condemned us to obscurity in the digital world.
By failing to pursue foreign bribery allegations, and by their willingness to deal with corrupt regimes and even people smugglers, the government has given approval for bribery, fraud, and corruption.
By lying about our emissions, promoting fossil fuels, and blaming renewable energy for blackouts and rising electricity prices, they are abrogating our responsibility to avoid calamitous climate change.
Respect our intelligence?
Or manipulate the truth, restrict information, treat us like mugs, the treasury like your personal war chest, and the power of government as a tool by which to bestow position, favour and profit upon the chosen.
The voice of greed speaks louder than the voice of need and ambition is a willing listener.