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  • John McDonnell

Scott Morrison’s carbon plan is world’s best practice


Scott Morrison’s plan to get to zero emissions by 2050 using technology not taxes has been subjected to sustained attack from all quarters.


On last Thursday’s ABC QandA, he was pilloried for a lack of leadership and a failure to enforce targets on a reluctant National party. His failure to secure a 2030 target greater than the current 26-28 per cent was lambasted by NSW treasurer, Matt Kean, on ABC Insiders on Sunday.


Commentators in the media have said that Australia will be a pariah at the Glasgow climate conference because of its weak targets. However, a quick look at the facts indicates this may not be true.


The first thing to note is that many of the major emitters of CO2 are not bothering to turn up at Glasgow at head of government level and will likely not sign on to any target. The no-showers include China, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, South Africa and New Zealand.

Secondly, it has been argued that Australia will come under pressure from its AUKUS partners, the United States and the United Kingdom, to up its commitment. But while the leaders of these countries, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson are climate policy enthusiasts, neither can secure a mandate for their climate targets.


President Biden can’t get his ‘Clean Energy Bill’ through Congress. It is being blocked by Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia. In a parallel with Australia, Senator Manchin

represents a big coal community that will be destroyed by the implementation of carbon cuts.


In the UK the government is poised to publish its long-awaited net zero strategy on Monday, setting out how the UK will meet its targets to cut CO2 emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 and reach net zero by 2050. This will also include the heat and buildings strategy for insulating draughty homes and phasing out gas boilers, along with a massive expansion of offshore wind, and building electric vehicle charging networks.


Failure to put forward a viable and well-funded blueprint for reaching net zero would destroy the UK’s credibility at a crucial time, campaigners have said, just weeks before the UN Cop26 climate talks, which begin in Glasgow at the end of this month.


But the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who controls the purse strings, is understood to be strongly opposed to devoting new cash to the climate effort. He was notably silent on the climate, net zero strategy and Cop26 in his speech to the Tory party conference earlier this month.


The UK Treasury is also due to publish on Monday its own net zero findings, in the form of a review that is expected to set out the costs of reaching net zero. The UK Treasury net zero review is controversial among green experts, because they say, it will not take account of the many benefits of cutting emissions, including green jobs, lower energy bills and health improvements from cutting air pollution, as well as reducing the impacts of extreme weather


On the other hand, the review does what the Australian Nationals are demanding should be done in Australia: it shows who will bear the immediate cost of emission reductions. It is speculated that the review will show that there will be a fall in the standard of living and a substantial increase in taxes as the result of the implementation of the UK carbon policy. In addition, government sources believe there will be a need for substantial government investment in renewable energy because private investment will not be forthcoming.


At the moment western countries are putting a lot of faith in renewables whereas Asia Pacific countries are continuing to use fossil fuels pending development of other technologies.


China is opening more coal fired power stations but working on the development of thorium breeder reactors, which are clean, low radiation and produce 2,500,000 times the power of coal for the same unit of input. They last longer and are cheaper than renewables.

If successful, China will be able to supply all the energy needs of Asia which will end Australia’s role as an energy exporter.


In the circumstances, Australia’s energy plan, which is cautious but capable of achieving zero emissions by 2050, while adapting to innovations in technology, looks like a winner.

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