When Australians eventually reach the Pearly Gates they may, whatever their earthly sins, finally receive some redemption for their efforts to save the world from climate change. After decades of persecution for not doing enough they may at last be recognised for doing more than most.
As the rest of the world suffers collective amnesia, Australia faithfully continues its missionary work to achieve its 2030 and 2050 Paris and Glasgow emission reduction delusions.
While China lifts its annual coal output by 300 million tonnes, (two-thirds Australia’s total production), Australia imposes a virtual moratorium on new mines. State bans, together with native title and environmental opposition, have also largely stopped new coal-seam gas drilling and fracking.
No coal plants are under construction in Australia with the largest, Eraring, due to close seven years early. The existing fleet is ageing and, with the end in sight, it is suffering predictable neglect. At the start of winter, one-quarter of Australia’s coal generation was offline. Not so China. It is building 43 new coal-fired power stations. Nor in Europe, where several countries, together with Britain, are bringing retired coal plants back online and are planning new mines.
Japan, always mindful of its national interest, has stalled its withdrawal from fossil fuels.
But, to Australian critics, none of this matters. Who cares if Australians spend four to five times more per capita on renewable energy than China, the EU, Japan and the United States? Or that Australia’s fossil fuel energy mix for 2020 was 76 per cent compared to China’s 84 per cent, the EU’s, 85 per cent (which includes burning wood), Japan’s 88 per cent and America’s 84 per cent?
Confirming Australia’s pariah status, the latest Climate Change Performance rankings published by advocacy group Germanwatch, rank Australia 59th out of 63 nations on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, energy use and climate policy.
The environment charity, Greenfleet, notes that ‘when it emerged that Australia contributed only 1.3 per cent of total global CO2 emissions, many people were led to believe that as a nation, we were already doing enough’. Not so it cautions. Australia’s coal exports accounted for more than a quarter of the nation’s total exports over the last decade and most of our electricity is still powered by fossil fuels. On that basis, Australia contributed about 3.6 per cent to global emissions.
Moreover, that number doesn’t include emissions from other mineral exports or consider the emissions produced as a result of those exports. By taking these into account, and Australia’s population being around 0.33 per cent of the world’s population, instead of being virtuous, Aussies are among the highest emitters on the planet.
Australian bumbling, we learn, has led to it shunning its closest neighbours’ plea for an end to the coal industry and to contributing to the climate change plight of Pacific Islands nations. This is why the Solomon Islands nation has become a virtual Chinese colony.
As new Foreign Minister, Penny Wong now acknowledges, Australia previously ‘disrespected’ the struggle of Pacific nations as they grappled with the consequences of climate change.
But, what struggle is she referring to? The reality is that in the 30 years since 1990, a period characterised by consistent satellite observation, tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific has been decreasing. Moreover, rather than facing existential threats from rising sea levels, the latest satellite imaging shows 80 per cent of Pacific Islands, are growing or stable.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese sides with the nation’s critics and hopes some day, ‘Australia will once again be a trusted global partner on climate action’.
Is it intellectual cowardice or crass ignorance which drives Australia’s political class on its suicidal mission? It’s certainly not the science.
At least the leftist Potsdam Institute’s Professor Ottmar Edenhofer has the courage to say out loud what is becoming more obvious by the day. ‘One has to free oneself,’ he says, ‘from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. Instead, climate change policy is about how we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth’.
Assuming he was talking about redistribution from the rich to the poor, the reality is, it’s going the other way. Renewable energy rent-seekers, particularly Big Wind, have colluded with climate activists to bully governments into paying them massive subsidies and to levy imposts on electricity consumers.
Energy expert, Dr Alan Moran, observes ‘government no longer publicises the extent of these, but they come to about $7 billion a year. This gives wind and solar double the price which coal receives and it is this that is driving coal out of the market’.
Until now, the average Australian has felt removed from the complexities of energy and climate change politics. For those who can afford the capital outlay, subsidised roof solar panels have provided an incentive to support renewables. For others, rising electricity prices have been philosophically absorbed, offset, in part, by rising wages and declining interest rates. Most have broadly accepted climate change propaganda and left the esoteric scientific arguments for the elite to sort out.
Russia’s actions in Ukraine have changed all that. The West’s ageing coal fleet and dependence on renewables was always an accident waiting to happen. So when supply shortages hit a world ripe for inflation courtesy of years of reckless fiscal and monetary policies, household budgets were hit hard with the poor suffering most. Many will become jobless and in winter have to choose between heating their homes or buying groceries.
Globally, Australians are among the first to experience this, but its governments stubbornly refuse to change tack. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews believes, ‘It’s wrong to be doing anything else other than forging ahead’ and, new Energy Minister, Chris Bowen agrees. For him, nuclear power is an expensive ‘joke’. Batteries and band-aids are better and cheaper.
Still, shivering Aussies should take comfort that when their time comes, their fruitless sacrifices to save the planet may at least be acknowledged by St. Peter.
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