Features Australia

Emissions reduction targets stink

The Paris agreement is all hot air

21 November 2020

9:00 AM

21 November 2020

9:00 AM

The anti-democratic sentiments of the climate change cult have been exposed again. According to them, the results of an election in the United States should change the Australian government’s policy on climate change.

Despite allegations of interstate voting, ballot harvesting and even dead people voting, to my knowledge there has been no allegation yet that any Australian voted in the US election.

So why would Australia’s policy change based on votes by people who don’t live here?

We did have a recent Australian election where climate change action featured prominently. The Guardian proclaimed that last year’s vote was the ‘climate election’. Just before the last federal election, Bill Shorten said that he would ‘send a message to the world, when it comes to climate change: Australia is back in the fight.’

Mr Shorten’s siren call in favour of climate change action was rejected by the Australian people just two days later.

Now apparently a presidential election in the United States can overturn the will of the Australian people. That is even though Joe Biden did not campaign as prominently on climate change as Bill Shorten did.

In the presidential debates, Mr Biden said he supported fracking despite earlier statements. And, the Republicans look like they have kept control of the Senate and made significant, unexpected gains in the House of Representatives. There is a stronger argument that the US election demonstrated huge support for the continuing development of America’s fossil fuels.

Not that that should change what we do anyway. We should make decisions on carbon dioxide emissions in our national interest. The problem with calls to reduce our carbon emissions is that it would have no impact on the climate alone and there is almost no way that other countries will cut their emissions over time.

Now we are being asked to commit to have ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050. This would only make sense if we could be confident that other countries will cut their emissions at the same time.

A good way of estimating what others will do in the future is what they have done in the past. Since 2005 New Zealand has cut its carbon emissions by just 3 per cent (despite having promised to cut them by 5 per cent by 2020). Over the same time, emissions in Canada have not changed, Chinese emissions have gone up by 70 per cent and Indian emissions by 60 per cent.

But don’t worry; some of these countries have said they will reduce them to zero (in net terms) by 2050! How likely is it that these countries will stick to their new promises given how they’ve reneged on their old promises?

In the US there will be seven presidential elections between now and 2050. The only way you could believe that the Democrats will win the next seven of these is if you really do believe they have control of Venezuelan automatic voting machines. And that is even before you consider the gridlocked state of the US Congress.

Things are worse when you look at the world’s largest emitter of carbon emissions, China. The Paris agreement makes no requirements on China to make any change to its carbon emissions before 2030 and only vague commitments after that. China is building over 100 coal-fired power stations. China will not give up its access to reliable and accessible energy and China is by far the largest coal producer in the world.

More importantly, however, the Paris agreement contains no inspection or enforcement regime. So when we reduce our emissions we just have to trust that other countries are doing the same. How has trusting other countries worked out for us lately?

Five years ago we signed a trade agreement with China that they have not adhered to. China has used every excuse to not accept our beef, coal, barley or timber. If we can’t trust China to comply with a trade agreement signed just five years ago, how can we trust them to cut their carbon emissions over decades?

Australia is one of the few countries that is meeting its carbon emission reduction commitments. The thanks we get from non-complying countries is to be berated for not committing to new targets 30 years away.

At the same time, we damage our own manufacturing industries as other countries steal our jobs while they do nothing to reduce their own emissions. Over the past decade Australian manufacturing output has fallen, in real terms, for the first time on record.

It is time we stop the stealing of Australian manufacturing jobs. We should pull out of the Paris agreement and pause any further efforts to reduce our own carbon emissions until other countries start to act and not just talk. Why should we continue to penalise our own businesses and workers while other countries get off scot-free?

Almost one in five Australian workers remain in a job that is subsidised through JobKeeper. Our priority now must be to keep these people in work as the government subsidies are removed over the coming year.

We will not create millions of jobs by increasing our energy prices, by imposing handicaps on Australian businesses that overseas businesses don’t have to bear or by ignoring manufacturing.

The way to create jobs is to make stuff again in Australia. And that will only happen if we put aside trying to change the temperature of the globe in favour of just investing in our natural advantages of the world’s cheapest and cleanest coal. That is what the Australian people voted for last year and we should listen to them first.

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