Australian climate change policy – and its contribution to global climate action – looks set to take another Giant Leap Backwards this week, with reports emerging that the Liberal Party’s regional committee will call for an examination of the science behind the theory of anthropogenic global warming at a conference this weekend.
The ABC reports that the Liberal Federal Regional and Rural Committee plans to move a motion at the conference calling for a parliamentary inquiry to “examine the scientific evidence that underpins the man-made global warming theory and investigate the reasons for the failure of computer models, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and prominent individuals to predict, among other things, the pause in global warming this century”.
Worryingly, the motion will also recommend that “in light of the uncertainty around this issue, Australia does not sign any binding agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year”.
The recommendation offers a stark contrast to reports this week that the Abbott government was weighing tougher emissions reduction targets for the post-2020 period, in an effort to restore Australia to the international mainstream on climate policy in time for that same December Paris meeting.
The motion, if it is moved, would cap off a bad few weeks for progressive political thinking in Australia; kicked off by the Prime Minister’s astonishing anti-wind musings and frank assessment of his party’s views on the Renewable Energy Target.
The establishment, today, of a legally binding RET could pass as a positive – in terms of generating investment certainty for the beleaguered renewables industry – but only if you ignore the fact that it makes Australia the first developed country to downsize its target, adding to its honour of being the first to dismantle a carbon price.
As reported here today, the new bill will cut new investment in renewables by around $5 billion, just as the world accelerates its investment in wind farms, with more than $US3.7 trillion to be spent on solar alone in the next two decades, and $US8 trillion overall, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The legislation also allows native wood waste to be burned and included in the target, and introduces a “wind commissioner” to deal with the complaints against turbines being aired and expounded upon in the current Senate Inquiry into wind farms.
In its efforts to answer questions about the possible health effects of wind turbine noise on nearby residents, the Inquiry has succeeded mainly in outing the numerous conscientious objectors to wind energy – and their outlandish views on the subject – that populate the cross-benches as well as the Coalition ranks.
This, and the Abbott government’s stubborn refusal to take climate change seriously, look more and more embarrassing and isolated against the vast global majority; with the exception, of course, of the US ultra-conservative Republicans, whose collective scetpicism of climate science was recently labelled a “national embarrassment”.
“One of the embarrassments that goes on in this country today is that we have a major political party called the Republican Party that is rejecting what the overwhelming majority of scientists are saying,” Independent Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, said on the weekend.
“That is, of course, climate change is real and caused by human activity,” said Sanders, a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. “That’s an issue we’re going to talk about a whole lot.” Indeed.