My Daily Advertiser Op Ed column for Tuesday 25 February 2020

by ray goodlass

McCormack rejects climate summit calls for urgent action

A strong call for governments to set short-term zero emissions target to avoid catastrophic warming was dismissed by Michael McCormack last week.

Mr McCormack spoke stridently against the prospect of the government agreeing to a goal of net zero emissions by 2050 when he spoke to ABC TV’s ‘The Insiders’.

Sounding like he’d borrowed from President Trump’s tweets he said, “I think if you go down that path, what you’re going to do is send factories and industries offshore, send manufacturing jobs offshore.”

“That’s not the Australian way. Regional Australia is more than doing its fair share as far as making sure that we have lower emissions.”

When asked if he accepted warnings from the IPCC that the emissions target was needed to limit global warming, McCormack said the “IPCC is not governing Australia”.

This brought to mind the recent Climate Emergency Summit, held in Melbourne, which released a declaration saying the warming world was a clear threat to Australian society and civilisation.

“The climate is already dangerous. The Earth is unacceptably too hot now,” the declaration said.

It warned that even the Paris agreement emissions reduction targets would put the world on a path to 3.5C warming by 2100, and 4C to 5C warming “when long-term climate-system feedbacks were factored in”.

“National security analysts warn that 3C may result in “outright social chaos”, and 4C is considered incompatible with the maintenance of human civilisation.

The declaration called on governments to commit to rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero, to drawing down carbon concentrations already in the atmosphere, and to integrating adaptation and resilience measures into restructured national and global economies.

The declaration said Australia’s political leaders were especially culpable, guilty of short-term political expediency, which had left Australians acutely exposed to the impacts of climate change.

“The first duty of a government is to protect the people, their well-being and livelihoods. Instead, Australian governments have left the community largely unprepared for the disasters now unfolding, and for the extensive changes required to maintain a cohesive society as climate change impacts escalate.”

Australia was the world’s fourth largest carbon polluter, exports included, and one of the countries most exposed to climate change, the declaration said.

“It makes no sense to build our economy on fossil fuel resources, practices and technologies which are unsustainable, particularly when Australia has some of the best clean energy resources and opportunities in the world.”

Back to where I began. Mr McCormack’s strident denialism about the need to combat climate change is in large part due to the need to ward off attacks from the coal loving duo of Barnaby Joyce and Matt Canavan, who are hovering around for another go at installing the member for New England as the Nationals’ leader.

They champion coal mines and will not stop advocating new coal fired power stations.

Mr Canavan’s replacement as Resources minister, Keith Pitt is not only demanding new coal fired power stations, but wants nuclear fueled ones as well.

But what really irks about all this rhetoric is the rampant hypocrisy involved. They know that there is no future in coal. Investors won‘t invest and insurers won’t insure. So how about a bit of honesty and some real efforts to future proof the lives of those currently dependent on coal? It’s time they stopped conning their constituents.

Rather than looking backwards and digging their heals in, they’d be better following the lead of Greens leader Adam Bandt, who has pointed to a new future in mining for the minerals needed for a carbon free future.

Mr Bandt is also very aware of the concerns of those still working with coal. He said Australia “owes a debt” to the coal workers who “helped power the Australian economy and contributed to our success.

“We have an obligation to see that no one is left behind. Government needs to take the reins and oversee transition so we grow jobs and industry in areas where coal mines and power stations exist at the moment.

“I want a manufacturing renaissance in Australia, for Australia to be an energy superpower and to process the minerals here which we need for a renewable economy” Mr Bandt concluded.