By Joe Montero
Scott Morrison has gone to Glasgow with a policy hastily stitched last week with his own Liberal Party and National Party coalition partners. It’s not much of a policy, full of vague promises and misleading statistics. details of the so-called plan have not been released. There is no implementation path.
Copt 26 begins in earnest today, and somewhere in this United Nations conference, the Prime Minister will tell the world that Australia is full speed ahead. No one will be fooled. Every nation is promising net zero somewhere around the middle of the century. It means little. The truth is in the detail.
A plan but with no detail and no modelling
Video from The Guardian
For all the talk about net zero by 2060, the intention is to keep to merely 26-28 percent by 2030, and the emphasis is a return to carbon capture, rather than decreasing output.
Serious reductions are needed within the next decade. Not delaying exercises. If this doesn’t take place, the planet is in for serious climate warming. Enough to cause severe damage to the ecology, devastate economies, and bring about major conflict. We are talking about the Earth getting more than 2 degrees centigrade hotter.
As one of the major exporters of fossil fuels, Australia has a responsibility to play a significant role, and must shift from dependency of this export and restructure the economy on a sustainable foundation. This involves switching to clean energy. It is also much more than this. Rejigging the whole economy with new technology and priorities, and decision making processes.
A transformation on this scale is akin to an industrial revolution. This means livelihoods must be protected, and this translates into providing decent jobs, not allowing manipulation to create more in casualised work, and lifting the income of currently below the poverty line. A comprehensive national plan is the only way to bring this about, and such a plan cannot exist, without large scale government intervention into the economy.
Allowing control to fall into the hands of already proven inadequate politicians and bureaucrats won’t do. An expansion of government intervention must be accompanied by a democratisation of the economy. The participation of all must be brought into every enterprise and across the economy, thereby engaging ownership and support for change.
There must be a clear path towards meeting these goals. The Morrison plan offers none of this. Smoke and mirrors are used the fact and take the form of pretending a need to patch the conflict between city and country and that other Australia can’t do more until other countries are doing more.
Firstly, the division between city and country is exaggerated. It’s really about the fossil fuel industry and its connection with the Liberal and National parties verses the rest of Australia. Secondly, most other nations are doing far more than Australia.
Bringing down carbon emissions to net zero requires nations to act. Add to this the necessity for international cooperation and action. COP 26 is supposed to further both along. Scott Morrison should be there to championing international unity and action. He won’t be.
All nations are not equal In the real world. They have different capacities to deal with climate change. Developed nations have the most. Developing nations have the least. It means that the developed nations must help the others by allowing a breathing space and providing material support. if they don’t, international cooperation will not be possible.
Establishing a fund to help developing nations to build sustainable energy production and economies is critical to success. Funding should be given and not be a loan for nations that do not have the capacity to pay it back. Creating a new debt crisis would be counterproductive. Developed countries must contribute to this fund according to capacity and need.
Scott Morrison has so far had nothing to say about this.
Whether other nations act or don’t act on this in Glasgow will be seen in the coming days. The indications are that they will not go past fine sounding resolutions and fail to produce a collective plan, because the governments of most developed nations are not ready to contribute the money needed and remain wedded to market based solutions.
Failure on this count will mean continuation of efforts to push the burden onto poorer nations and doing the least possible at home.
Scott Morrison is perfectly at home with this and even seeks to make Australia stand out as doing the least.
The China question is unavoidable. Although the second and fastest growing economy in the world, China has a fifth of the world’s population and remains a developing nation in certain respects. Bringing change here is a monumental task. The Chinese government asks for this to be considered.
Current policy is to reach net zero emissions by 2060. There is more to it than this. China has come up with and is applying a practical plan that will see major reductions before most other nations.
On a per capita basis, China’s emissions are half that of the United States and even less than Australia’s. Furthermore, the western developed nations are responsible for 92 percent of the rise climate warming gasses in the atmosphere since 2015.
In a plan submitted to the United Nations, China has laid out its intention to level off by 2030 and reduce its carbon intensity, that is, the ratio of emissions as a proportion of gross Domestic product (GDP) by 65 percent within the same time period, compared with 2005. Coal consumption will be phased down between 2025 and 3030, and overseas coal mining will no longer be financed. Contrast this with 87 percent of current global coal power now being financed by the Unites States, Great Britain, and Japan.
China is the world’s leader in renewable energy, with a capacity greater than Europe, the United States and Great Britain combined. China’s forest coverage has already been increased from 12 percent the landmass to 23 percent. This is the best way to capture carbon. China leads the world in electric cars, trains, and accounts for around 99 percent of the world’s electric buses.
The nation’s State Council Information Office released a “White Paper on Responding to Climate Change: China’s Policies and Actions,“ on 27 October 2021. It called for a fund to help poorer nations. This will be brought up in Glasgow, where Chinese President Xi Jinping will be making an address by video link. He has already called for “the development of an ecological civilization.”
China is mentioned because this is a nation going further than merely making promises. Compare this to the leaders of other nations making fine sounding promises empty of real content. It is also because there will be an effort to blame China for everything. And guess who is a likely candidate for this role? Scott Morrison.
The blame China tactic is to take attention away from those nations failing to act. It must not succeed. In Australia, we have a shared responsibility to make sure our nation does its fair share to make a difference.