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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

How Coalition ‘squandered’ climate decade, and is still lying about science

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The federal coalition government has spent the better part of the ‘critical decade’ for climate change action doing everything in its power not to act, a new report has found, including deliberately misleading the public on the science, and on Australia’s emissions trajectory.

In what is shaping up as a very bad week for the Coalition’s climate credentials, the Climate Council said the Liberal National Party’s tenure – from prime ministers Abbott to Morrison – had been characterised by slashing funding to climate science, cutting climate programs, rejecting expert advice, making false and misleading claims, and consistently covering up poor performance.

‘The government’s lack of climate change action is the defining leadership failure of the past decade,’ the report says.

‘We have not tackled climate change, the consequences are with us, and we must work very quickly to prevent catastrophic consequences.’

The report, which gives the government an ‘F’ for effort and execution, is particularly scathing about the Coalition’s consistent fudging of national greenhouse gas data – namely, its claim that Australia’s emissions are falling when they have actually risen for four years running.

‘Australia is unlikely to meet its 2030 emissions reduction target according to the government’s own department. Regardless, senior ministers continue to falsely claim that emissions are going down and targets will be met,’ the report says.

And in the first leaders’ debate of the election campaign, held in Perth on Monday night, Morrison continued undeterred with that very message, claiming the government had met the Kyoto 2020 emission targets and now had a ‘climate surplus’ on track to meeting its Paris goals.

But, as a group of 28 climate scientists, academics and former heads of energy companies went out of their way to remind the government in March, neither of these claims is strictly true.

Australia is not on track to meet its 2030 emissions reduction target, and even if it was, the target itself is woefully inadequate for what science says must be done to avert dangerous climate change.

On Kyoto, they reminded us, Australia used ‘dodgy credits’ obtained through a trick of accounting – and the Coalition intends to do this again, in order to meet the 2030 Paris target without actually having to reduce emissions.

But perhaps the most important message of the Climate Council report is that this kind of climate policy sleight of hand has become second nature to Coalition ministers, even if voters are no longer falling for it.

It was on display during the debate, when Morrison magically turned the focus from his own party’s glaring lack of policy, to the cost of climate action under Labor – not the cost of inaction, mind you, but the cost of action.

‘He’s not telling you what the cost of change is,’ Morrison said of his adversary Bill Shorten on Monday night. ‘Voting has started, people deserve to know what the cost of change is.’

But as the Climate Council report notes, voters might be equally interested in a totting-up of the costs – both environmental and economic – of the Coalition’s decade of inaction.

‘The federal government has squandered its tenure and that will cost us dearly,’ it says. 
’Australia has missed many opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition our economy in the cheapest, most gradual and effective ways possible.

‘We must now address the accelerating consequences of climate change and we are unprepared.’

The Climate Council’s scathing assessment follows Monday’s report card from the Australian Conservation Foundation, which gave the Coalition a score of just 4/100 for its climate policies.

‘Australians are already being hurt by climate damage and they want to be represented by politicians who take the issue seriously and will act with urgency,’ said ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

‘The Coalition’s signature climate policy – the emissions reduction fund – has not curbed Australia’s climate pollution. For the Coalition to again offer this ineffective policy as its main plan to tackle climate change shows a disregard for farmers, survivors of natural disasters fuelled by global warming and the next generation of Australians.’

But it’s not just climate groups who are growing tired of the LNP’s endless climate obfuscation. Business and industry are sick of it, too, as Australian boards are increasingly held to higher climate standards than its top political leaders.

‘The report released today by The Climate Council tells the sorry tale of Australia’s climate inaction, for which the blame is to be shared across the political spectrum,’ said the CEO of Meridian Energy Australia and Powershop Australia, Ed McManus, in comments to RE.

‘What we need now is action.

McManus argues that the failed Coalition combined climate and energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), would be a good place to start.

‘Whilst not perfect … (it) allows the market to function and it is the closest thing we have to a bi-partisan position that will provide the certainty we so desperately need in energy policy in this country,’ he said.

‘We implore all sides of government to get behind the NEG – again – and to make it a reality in the 46th Parliament.’

John Connor, who as we reported here is returning to Australia from Fiji to head up the Carbon Markets Institute, says regulators, central banks and business people are now geared to a sense of responsibility and risk management, even if government isn’t.

‘There is a sense of frustration and an acknowledgment that something has to happen,’ he told RE.

‘Ninety-two per cent of business recognise that what we’ve got is not adequate. We know we need to integrate climate and energy policy even if what that looks like is always up for debate.’

As for voters, if they don’t see the Coalition’s climate negligence for what it is in time for this coming election, they will surely understand the gravity of it in retrospect.

  • ‘As Australians experience escalating consequences into the future they will likely view this period of missed opportunities and failed leadership with deep dismay,’ the Climate Council report says.

‘Australia’s next government must adopt credible climate policy and a transparent and accurate approach to reporting and tracking Australia’s climate performance to ensure the public can appropriately evaluate its performance.’


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9 COMMENTS

  1. Climate change is normal… climates change …and the government are the last people you should trust on this… does anyone remember back in 1989 when the government told us that due to global warming the world would be drowning in rising sea levels by the year 2000? … what about in 1967 when they warned us we were heading for an ice age? ….. Never believe ANYthing the Government tells you

  2. What Stefanie …so Labor ….and the Greens do Have Credentials ??? … much talk about what Australia can do about Global warming!! What about individuals ? are they taking action? which countries have meet the Paris Agreement targets?? Canada have not …and nor have France .. ETC
    …but good old Australia has ..anyone would think we are the major polluters of the world .?? All this propaganda…NO ..Definitely not …..its amazing how people are prepared to rubbish Australian governments for the inaction taken on Global warming..what a load of crap…..1.3 percent of Global emissions in total ..of the planet….end of story !! ….now once again , what …are the Major Polluters of the planet doing about Global warming..and that being ..India…China , Malaysia…America……ETC need i Remind ..those countries have NOT signed on to the Paris Agreement …and have no intention of doing so …infact they are Ramping up the use of Coal to supply cheap power to their Nations ..until 2030 ..

    Because when the wind stops blowing !! And the Sun stops shinning …the power , and the heater stops…now want to make my position Quite clear …i to want Renewables , if its viable to provide a reliable power source..and affordable!! we only use 15 percent of coal in Australia the remainder 85 percent is exported, surely this is sustainable to provide cheap power? mixed in with renewables.. We as a country used to have some of the cheapest power costs in the world ..now one of the dearest…WHY?? … labor will be no different..!!! Infact a interview with Bill Shorten recently..was asked even If Australia was to go 100 percent Renewables what difference would this make to global warming? His answer nothing at all …but he followed up with, we need to be seen to be doing something on Global warming… … please can we have more conversations …and protest the fact that the Major Polluters of the planet are doing very little ..and Australia is pulling their weight and HOW …

  3. I do not ‘go gentle’ on Shorten’s nonsense or the LNP – I do
    believe that Australia needs to do what we [the public] have
    been doing while our government’s sat in its house-of-cards
    & didn’t have the guts to admit to & take on Climate Change
    regardless of what the rest of the globe was doing. Example:
    If the guy next door is kicking his dog rest assured I won’t be
    kicking mine. We can do at least 70% of what’s needed to
    get a hold on to climate problems – there’s no damn need
    for this country to wait & see what the rest of the world’s
    doing.

    • Thanks for the reply Stefanie !!! Regarding the climate change propaganda, could you , or any Scientists please provide the following information which really should be available to anyone requesting it..lets face it …its an emergency…catastrophic right !!

      A .. POST THE DATE..when the climate science data was subjected to the of rigors of the scientific method and the result ??

      B ..list all of the dire climate change predictions that have come true ????

      C… what is the ideal level of CO2 for planet earth ???

      In other words prove that climate change is a existential threat to humanity ???

      Not even the IPCC links climate change to extreme weather events!!

      Lets take one example for climate change predictions and prognostications the one and only

      Mr Tim Flannery.. Government employed…as a expert regarding Global warming…. loved by , and endorsed by the ABC …also the GREENS…now his outlandish predictions were not only an embarrassment for himself, but also the very people that had faith in him ….NOT ONE OF HIS PREDICTIONS has come true..? Name one prediction in the past 50 years by scientists that has ?
      Now if there’s concrete evidence that supports the propaganda…iam ALL IN …with 100 percent support ..
      Still waiting !!!

  4. Sorry, Stephanie, the logic don’t follow, you might not kick the dog but the dog has still been kicked. If Green climate change policy was thorough we would stop imports from China, the US and India, certainly at least solar panels made in China and Japan. Of course that would put an end to our exports as well. Sure, we need a global commitment the argument goes, thus meetings in Paris, Poland, Kyoto, Geneva, Rio … millions of plane trips for politicians, bureaucrats, staff and ngo’s. So who really is kicking the dog the most? I’m just sat here with a wine and the radio.

  5. The last time the world sought a global response to something it ended in fascism and communism, both as bad as each other, and then the UN with it its endless bureaucratise, now the extreme Left teaching its children how to read a pamphlet. School in my day I learnt basics, which have done me pretty well; I wasn’t brought up to understand complex science involving a dozen disciplines and their putative synergy by reading a brochure. Free brochure free brochue. The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.

  6. Of course stopping imports from the US would mean no more mobiles or Internet, which would be a good thing. Maybe our kids could do more of the sums at the back of the book, maybe learn some problem solving. Because there’s lots of problems, they mount each time climate change is parroted like a line from Revelations. Now I need oil.

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