When what you are doing is not achieving the desired goal, do you stick with it because that’s what you said you were going to do?
Data from the Australian Department of the Environment reveal that whether or not you liked the carbon tax, it absolutely worked to slash carbon emissions. And in the first quarter without the tax, emissions jumped for the first time since prior to the global financial crisis.
Greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector (which accounts for about a third of total emissions, the largest single share) in the quarter from July to September dropped by about 7.5 percent after the carbon tax was imposed, and jumped 4.7 percent after it was repealed.
It’s especially important to note that the jump came in the context of an overall decline in electricity consumption, as Australian climate economist Frank Jotzo explained to the Sydney Morning Herald:
“Frank Jotzo, an associate professor at the Australian National University’s Crawford School, said electricity demand was falling in the economy, so any rise in emissions from the sector showed how supply was reverting to dirtier energy sources.
“You had a step down in the emission intensity in power stations from the carbon price — and now you have a step back up,” Professor Jotzo said.
…[Jotzo] estimated fossil fuel power plants with 4.4 gigawatts of capacity had been taken offline during the carbon tax years. About one third of that total, or 1.5 gigawatts, had since been switched back on.”
After taking office in 2013, the Abbott government chose not to send a minister to the climate change talks in Warsaw in November.
Julie Bishop, who has remit over the international climate change negotiations in the Abbott government, instead attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations.
A spokesman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the “international negotiations are a matter for the Foreign Minister. Minister Hunt indicated a month ago at the Sustainable Business Australia forum that he will be fully engaged in repealing the carbon tax during the first two weeks of Parliament.” Obviously climate change is not part of our Environment Minister’s brief.
When 125 heads of state met in September 2014 in New York to discuss international action on climate change, Tony Abbott chose not to go even though he was attending a UN Security Council meeting in New York the next day. Julie Bishop attended instead.
Next Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry is opening a meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Washington. The forum is meant to bring together ministerial representatives from 17 major countries in a bid to accelerate work on a climate deal.
Once again, Australia is facing questions in diplomatic circles for not sending a minister or its chief climate change negotiator.
If the Abbott government truly believed that their direct action plan will be successful in reaching our emissions reduction targets then why aren’t they at these conferences sharing their ideas? Why aren’t they interested in collaboration with other countries?
In the absence of any concrete information from Australia, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, including China and the US, have delivered a list of queries questioning the credibility of Australia’s climate change targets and “direct action” policy, demanding answers from the Abbott government.
Among major carbon emitters, the United States, the European Union and Russia have already put their positions on the table for the Paris talks later this year, with the US vowing a reduction of 26-28 per cent in its emissions of greenhouse gases by 2025 compared to 2005 levels. It seems inevitable that sanctions will be placed against countries who refuse to pull their weight.
There is a growing voice among scientists urging that the world must turn by mid-century into a zero-carbon society or we are risking disaster for humanity, with unmanageable sea-level rise, heat waves, droughts and floods.
In the Netherlands, the Urgenda Foundation is suing the Dutch government for knowingly endangering its citizens by failing to prevent dangerous climate change.
In the face of this diplomatic pressure and increasing global concern and co-operation, the Abbott government decided to spend $4 million on a think tank created by the “sceptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg at UWA.
Last week a spokesman for Education Minister Christopher Pyne said: “The government is contributing around a third of the total cost of the centre based on a proposal put forward by the University of Western Australia and Dr Lomborg’s organisation.”
Unfortunately for Pyne, this lie has been exposed by the University who state that “UWA was approached by the federal government” and that “it does not plan to spend any money on the centre and that it believes government funding will largely cover its cost.”
Dr Lomborg has links to some of the government’s most senior figures.
In November, Trade Minister Andrew Robb had a meeting with Dr Lomborg and later tweeted a picture of them together. “Had a good chat with Bjorn Lomborg about the power of trade in eliminating poverty,” Mr Robb tweeted.
In March, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop appointed him to a reference group advising on Australia’s foreign aid programs.
Tony Abbott quoted Dr Lomborg in his 2009 book, Battlelines, to explain why it doesn’t make sense “to impose certain and substantial costs on the economy now in order to avoid unknown and perhaps even benign changes in the future”.
Former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery said it was “extraordinary” that the government had abolished the Climate Commission “which was composed of Australia’s best climate scientists, economists and energy experts” on the basis of lack of funding only to find the money to “import a politically-motivated think tank to work in the same space.”
“Mr Lomborg’s views have no credibility in the scientific community,” Professor Flannery wrote.
“His message hasn’t varied at all in the last decade and he still believes we shouldn’t take any steps to mitigate climate change. When someone is unwilling to adapt their view on the basis of new science or information, it’s usually a sign those views are politically motivated.”
Once again, rather than accepting that they have made a bad decision, the Abbott government have given millions to a mate to tell them what they want to hear.
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