Just a day after Queensland Coalition MP Ewen Jones put the case for climate funds to be used to finance a 1.2GW coal fired power station near Townsville, Coalition Senate leader and attorney-general George Brandis revealed why the government thinks this might be a good idea.
“Senator Carr you’re the one who says the science is settled. I don’t. I’m aware that there are a number of views about the two questions of the nature and the causes of climate change. It doesn’t seem to me that the science is settled at all. But I’m not a scientist, and I’m agnostic, really, on that question.”
The remarks were, of course, leapt upon by Federal Labor and the Greens as proof of the hold that the far right and Abbottistas have over the current government. But the real question must be about at what point does ideology and climate denial trump simple maths about jobs and economics.
The new research on the Great Barrier Reef shows that more than 90 per cent of the reef has been affected by bleaching. Worse, some 40 per cent of this is not merely bleached, it has died, putting at risk some of the 70,000 jobs that rely on the tourism market, not to mention the trillions of dollars in biodiversity value.
This, you might suspect, should prompt federal Labor to have a quiet word in the ears of its state counterparts about its approval of the giant Carmichael coal mine. State Labor is also using “jobs” in the coal industry as justification for its support, although the coal-related job numbers are small in comparison, and declining.
“The science is clear – it’s coal or the Reef,” said Senator Larissa Waters, the Greens climate spokesperson.
“The Labor and Liberal parties’ approval of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest coal mine to export through the Reef flies in the face of the science and community expectations,” she said in a statement.
In reference to Brandis’ comments, Waters said it was time for the government to wake up to “the scientific reality that global warming is destroying the Reef and that continuing with Tony Abbott’s woeful climate policies won’t help it.
“The coal industry is dying and leaving workers in the lurch, while in contrast the clean energy industry is taking off and can provide thousands of new jobs without sacrificing our Reef or our very way of life.”
Waters also promoted the Greens’ renewable energy policy target of 90 per cent by 2030 – a policy given added credibility by this week’s release of an analysis from the Institute of Sustainable Futures that found 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 is not just feasible, but will likely result in reduced costs – and more jobs.
But, it seems, mainstream media just ain’t interested. The story got a run in The Guardian, and on RenewEconomy. But as far as we can tell, not a single mention in print in Australia. Not one word. But then, Brandis’ denial of climate science didn’t rate a mention either.