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 Climate change politics as fickle as the weather

15.05.19.  Chris Mitchell writing in The Australian says the politics of climate change is changing quickly. But in what direction is the question. The ABC has been running what they call a, “Vote Compass.” A friendly name that intimates a path to safety, direction to a warm hearth and bowl of beef and barley broth  simmering on the hob. We all know that the ABC has no bias so it must be true, on the eve of a TV and radio (not print or online) ban of political advertising, that, “More than 80 per cent of Australians want the Government to take more action on climate change, up 20 percentage points since 2013.” That should have the uninformed jumping aboard Bill Shorten’s bullshit bus to national ruin.
Chris Mitchell: The politics of climate change is moving quickly and in different ­directions in different countries, presenting serious media and politicians with even more challenges in the coming decade.Source: News CorpClimate politics as changeable as global weatherLast Saturday week The Australian’s editor-at-large Paul Kelly argued that the election of a Shorten government would redefine the politics of climate change as voters accepted Labor’s assertion that Australia needs tougher ­action to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions than that offered by the Coalition and effectively rules out being constrained by policy costings. Kelly likened the situation here to protests in Britain by people wanting a commitment to carbon neutrality and cited the influence of Swedish 16-year-old savant Greta Thunberg.
Yet the push for carbon neutrality is not going as uniformly well as Labor leader Bill Shorten or Greens leader Richard Di Natale would have you believe. As this column has pointed out for three years, China and India, No 1 and No 3 respectively of the top global emitters, have not committed to start to reduce carbon intensity, let alone total CO2 output, until 2030.
Activists and left-wing media outlets never like admitting the one major emitter to have success in reducing emissions, though still short of the Paris commitments it is withdrawing from, is the US. It has achieved this on the back of fracking for natural gas.
Gas was expected to be the transition fuel to renewables here when former Labor PM Julia Gillard signed her deal with the Greens in 2010. Just as Greens’ maximilism destroyed Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading system, advocates after 2010 immediately pushed for a faster transition to renewables.
With no gas reservation policy to guarantee domestic prices, ­renewables that had been expected to phase in across 40 years ramped up faster than the grid could cope with and created instability and price pressure. Back in 2010, the idea had been that ­renewables would not dominate until 2050, when large-scale, grid-size battery storage technology had matured.
What Labor, the Greens and some media companies appear to have missed is that the same pressures that have created havoc in our power industry are now splitting EU and Canadian attitudes to renewables.
EU plans for total carbon neutrality are in trouble east of France. Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, long a leader in renewables, is facing a possible economic slowdown and historically high energy prices in its heavy manufacturing sector, just as energy conservatives have argued it would. While Britain, France and The Netherlands remain committed to the idea of zero carbon and want it sooner if possible, Italy, Poland and Hun­gary are falling in behind Germany in urging a more cautious approach. No EU country is as yet meeting its Paris commitments in full.
Several European countries, especially Poland and Hun­gary, are a long way behind their targeted reductions and Europe’s rate of renewables growth is ­slowing. Wind and solar photovoltaic ­installation rates have declined and total ­renewable installation in Europe last year was only at half the 2010 level.
Populist parties of the Right, ­especially in France but also in Finland and The Netherlands, are building electoral support for nationalist programs aimed at resisting the EU on centrally imposed climate policies. While these parties were once driven by anti-immigration sentiment, they are increasingly mobilising behind opposition to Brussels over planned carbon ­dioxide reductions. France’s protesting yellow shirts are violently opposing plans to increase fuel taxes. Wait until France’s farmers hear about Greens proposals to hit the meat, game and poultry industries, given agriculture is next on the activists’ list after electricity.
Even renewables as they are in Europe are not what many in the media may think. As business columnist Terry McCrann pointed out in The Weekend Australian on May 4, ­Europe is pulling what many would think is a renewables swiftie. The biggest renewables power generator across the EU is biomass, effectively firewood. Despite being a heavy emitter of CO2, biomass emissions are not counted in Europe’s carbon accounting.
The theory says carbon dioxide will eventually be reduced by growing new biomass, but this does not seem to fit alarmist scenarios calling for carbon neutrality immediately. Biomass was 60 per cent of renewables generation across ­Europe in 2016. And Europe, a long-time ­opponent of fracking, is doubling imports of US gas created by fracking.
Add to the European picture the votes in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario for conservatives opposing carbon taxes. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick are also facing federal carbon taxes because their governments have refused to ­implement their own.
However quasi-religious the rhetoric of the ALP or parts of the Coalition in committing to action on climate change, there is no point in a country with 1.3 per cent of global emissions destroying its economy when major emitters are increasing global CO2 output.
Politicians need to resist policies that hurt their own poor, and journalists should resist bullying calls for reporting conformity by parts of the scientific, political and business community, many with a vested interest in renewables.
Environment writers could start by reading the submission to the US congress on February 6 by eminent climate scientist ­Judith Curry. Curry, hated by climate alarmists, bells the cat on media lies about extreme weather events. She points out that even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change rejects the idea that any individual weather ­incident can be linked to CO2 ­increases and cites data showing droughts and heatwaves in the US are not as ­severe as they were in the 1930s dust bowl era. She says more work needs to be done to understand the role of geology and the sun in global temperatures and ridicules the notion that CO2 can be used like a dial to change global temperature.
She urges the US to be cautious: “Drastic reductions … will not ­reduce global CO2 concentrations if emissions in the developing world, particularly China and India, continue to increase. If we believe the climate model simulations, we would not expect to see any changes in extreme ­weather/climate events until the late 21st century.”
Like Copenhagen Consensus director Bjorn Lomborg, published in this paper for 15 years, Curry ­rejects environmental spiritualism in favour of rational approaches that will not damage society. She urges greater adaptation strategies to deal with possible emerging weather changes and discusses ­social and planning changes to ­increase “resilience, anti-fragility and thrivability”.
Politicians who think commitments to action at any cost will win them votes need to be careful. While the Coalition has torn itself to pieces on climate change for a decade, Labor’s position is not without risk, as Germany and France show in different ways. Labor, the party of the worker, needs to be mindful of possible damage it could do by appealing to rich Greens and young voters at the expense of the older poor.
And journalists, before reporting ridiculous scientific claims, should look at a piece published in The Wall Street Journal last June 21 under the headline, ­“Thirty years on, how well do ­global warming predictions stack up?” The answer? Every scientific doom forecast has been proven wrong.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • DT 15/05/2019, 7:37 am

    Yes, but don’t worry now about man made global warming caused by carbon dioxide (not “carbon”), mass extinction of species is underway because of the very low 410 ppm for CO2 now in the atmosphere, not much above plant starvation level.

    And after all a new cooling cycle is underway.

  • Penguinite 15/05/2019, 8:46 am

    It’s probably the next Ice Age that will save the world from total extinction. Sure, we’ll lose a few inhabitants on the way through, but ultimately, the planet will survive all the better for the clean-out. Hopefully this time we’ll have the good sense to record, for posterity, our mistakes and avoid repeating them. The Greens haven’t yet realised that CO2 is good for “Greening” the planet and are hell bent on self destruction. I hope!

    • Bwana Neusi 15/05/2019, 4:44 pm

      Even the Green’s ambition of reducing global population from seven billion to one billion won’t materialise with the global winter, because food supply will only reduce by about forty percent (shorter growing period etc)
      What will happen is the “Climate change” will take on a whole new meaning.

      • Neville 16/05/2019, 1:17 am

        Ah yes, BN, but you’ll find that the longish cold spell coming will STILL be due to “global warming”!! Just wait and see how “they” twist it all round, to suit their global plans.

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