Features Australia

Bandwagon overload

Enthusiasm for the Paris Agreement is on the wane

7 March 2020

9:00 AM

7 March 2020

9:00 AM

For those able to exploit it, the global warming bandwagon is the gift that keeps on giving.

Just like the Greens who blame bushfires on Prime Minister Scott Morrison for their own policy dereliction in hazard reduction, the Washington-based International Monetary Fund urges us to accept a ‘climate emergency’ for its obvious shortcomings.

The IMF may still be influential, but its dud predictions have resulted in the world suffering from many mal-informed policy decisions. Indeed, the Financial Times reviewed the IMF’s forecasting record and found over the 27 years to 2018, on average, it had predicted five economies would contract the following year when in practice, an average of 26 contracted. What better scapegoat than an unpredictable climate emergency to explain the  reason for future forecasting failures?

The Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements, which boasts as members more than 50 of the world’s most influential central banks, including Australia’s Reserve Bank, has likewise seized on climate change to explain why its macro-economic analyses may not predict real-world developments. Rather than admit its models and policy recommendations are flawed, it points to the unpredictability of ‘green swan’ events which could trigger the next financial crisis. ‘Climate change is driving the increased frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters’ which may result in a ‘disruptive shift in asset prices (and leave) some economies unviable’.

Good try. But the reality is, after last year’s 71 interest rate cuts by 49 of its members, central banks are out of ammunition. The politically-motivated monetary experiments encouraged by the BIS have resulted in asset inflation, global excess capacity and an explosion in debt. Central banks are now hostage to market volatility from any cause, including weather. But rest easy. The world’s central bankers will be our ‘climate rescuers of last resort’.

To spread the word, BIS representatives mingled with the elite at the recent annual World Economic Forum in Davos, where climate change was a hot topic. Some 1,500 private jets transported many of the attendees. The New York Times tells us that after virtue-signalling all day, ‘In the evenings masters of the universe will hop from say a dinner hosted by George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist, to a wine party sponsored by Anthony Scaramucci, the financier and former Trump administration official, … Marc Benioff, the Salesforce co-founder and co-chief executive will buy-out a nightclub and fly in a pop star.’ If there was an award for hypocrisy, climate change evangelists would win hands down.

Like WEF founder Klaus Schwab. He praised Chinese support for multilateralism and economic globalisation. He spoke in glowing terms of ‘China’s growing role in international affairs’, where it was ‘playing a responsive and responsible role’. Really? For someone like Professor Schwab who drinks the climate change Kool-Aid, it’s hard to reconcile this obsequiousness with Beijing’s plans to construct, before 2030, 300 to 500 coal-fired power plants, an increase of 30 per cent above current levels. Moreover, 17 new coal mines will be added to the 3,000 already operating. Unlike Australia, which takes its multilateral Paris emissions obligations seriously, Beijing has adopted a unilateralist ‘China-first’ policy.

Australia has no new coal-fired generators in prospect and opposition to even one new coal mine remains ferocious. And, although Finance Minister Mathias Cormann assured the WEF ‘The proposition that is circulated by some, that we are not committed to effective action on climate change, is false,’ few seem convinced. They ignore the reality that Australia has spent 11 times the global average on renewable power and invests in renewables at a rate per capita four to five times faster than China, the European Union, Japan and the United States.

But, sooner or later, reality must dawn. Despite valiant efforts by the world’s meteorological agencies to upwardly ‘adjust’ temperature data to mark 2019 as the hottest year on record, satellites say 1998 retains that distinction, (1991 was Australia’s warmest year.) While the BIS claims ‘increased frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters’, extreme weather events in recent decades have been fewer and less intense. Contrary to predictions, there are more polar bears than 40 years ago and there has been no acceleration in sea level rises. The planet is greener and cereal production is at record highs, meaning significantly fewer people live in extreme poverty and hunger today than a decade ago.

So where’s the emergency? There is none. It is simply an artifice intended to speed-up wealth transfer from rich countries to poor. For Greens, journalists, former fire chiefs, central bankers and other climate change evangelists, it also serves as a fallback to excuse bad decisions based on opinion, ideology, defective models and manufactured data.

By playing the good global citizen game, naive Australians are paying the price of multilateralism. It has meant acting on now discredited global macro-economic models which have left the economy over-regulated and over-indebted. When signing the Paris climate agreement it meant turning blind eyes to dodgy data and burdening the nation with some of the world’s most expensive electricity. But it’s never enough. Now Australia’s Labor opposition is promising zero net CO2 emissions by 2050.

Yet Australia remains one of the few countries meeting its Paris goals. Even after two weeks of argument and a blitzkrieg of protests, children’s strikes, science catastrophism, rent-seeker pressure and media propaganda, the best the Madrid climate conference could manage was to repeat the ‘urgent need’ to cut greenhouse-gas emissions further.

Enthusiasm for Paris is clearly waning. Tricky decisions like a green climate fund and an emissions trading scheme were punted to Glasgow later this year. By then, as global economies slow, domestic politics will dominate, making even lip service for bigger cuts harder to come by.

After the effort that has gone into this bandwagon, new wheels are becoming unaffordable.

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