Scott Morrison’s new climate plan is a total fraud. Morrison has finally announced support for the net zero by 2050 target but produced no new funding or policies to get there.
There is literally nothing more than the vague hope that new technologies will appear to fix the problem.
Instead of starting to act now, Morrison is again delaying action until closer to 2050. But what happens in the next ten years is crucial. Many climate scientists are saying that Australia needs to be close to zero emissions by 2030 to have any hope of keeping global heating to 1.5 degrees, the safe limit included in the last major climate agreement at the Paris summit.
The latest UN Emissions Gap report, released this week, found international pledges still have us on track for catastrophic warming of 2.7 degrees. Australia should be doing everything it can to speed up action, not providing more excuses and delays.
Instead every element of Morrison’s “plan” is just more spin and lies. He claims he is spending $20 billion on “low emissions technology”. Half of that is the $10 billion invested through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, set up back in 2013 under the last Labor government. It also includes the money that is going into dodgy offsets, through the Emission Reduction Fund established by Tony Abbott.
And he continues to promote the fantasy of carbon capture and storage technology as a way to bury emissions and allow the continued use of fossil fuels.
The Coalition also says it is going to beat its 2030 target, reaching somewhere between 30 and 35 per cent emissions reduction. But if land use changes, such as the reduction in new land clearing are excluded, emissions actually increased by 1.7 per cent between 2005 and 2018. And most of the climate policies that are doing anything are those of the state governments.
Morrison’s shift on climate is an effort to avoid complete embarrassment at the COP26 climate summit he is attending next week in Glasgow. But it is also a response to increasing pressure for action from inner city Liberal MPs, who fear losing their seats, alongside the Business Council of Australia, which is worried companies will miss out on business opportunities as the rest of the world adopts low emissions technologies.
The Coalition’s hopeless climate policies are a growing liability for the government in the face of broad public support for climate action.
But the fear of job losses in coal dependent communities in Queensland and the Hunter in NSW also remains potent.
Even as he accepted the need for climate action, Morrison continued to spread fear about the threat it poses to jobs and living standards. He was careful to say his focus was “preserving our existing industries”. And he is doing all he can to promote the expansion of fossil fuels, using millions of taxpayer dollars to help open new gas fields at Narrabri in NSW and the Beetaloo basin in the NT, alongside new gas power plants.
Morrison agreed to hand the Nationals an extra Cabinet position and shovel extra money into supporting regional areas, likely in support of coal mining projects like inland rail lines, in return for support for his worthless net zero by 2050 target.
Nationals MPs alongside Morrison will try to repeat their efforts at the last election supporting coal mining, in an effort to win votes at the federal election due by May next year.
But between the handouts to the National Party and the tens of billions of dollars the government is spending on nuclear submarines, it’s clear the money for a serious climate transition is there.
The possibility of thousands of jobs in renewable energy, from solar power to offshore wind, becomes clearer every day, with coal power stations already beginning to close.
The Labor Party is keen to present itself as supportive of climate action but continues to promise very little, fearing another backlash from fossil fuel workers. Instead of announcing the funding for climate action and jobs that are needed, it is simply relying on the market and business investment to drive change.
A climate transition package that guaranteed workers’ jobs and used public investment to build renewable energy, public transport and electrify other heating, transport and manufacturing that use fossil fuels could deliver rapid emissions reductions.
Morrison is among the world’s worst climate criminals. There will be protests all across the country during the COP26 climate summit to call for action. But it is going to take a much stronger climate movement, with unions and the working class at its heart, to win the action we need.
By James Supple