We Australians are more confused than ever about climate policy, according to a new poll – and who can blame us? Clive Palmer’s latest announcement has confused everyone, but don’t be fooled: Palmer’s policies, like those of the major parties, won’t achieve much.
Ever since his election last September, Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been on a crusade to abolish all existing climate policies (which were already completely inadequate to deal with the climate crisis). He’s already abolished a long list of small programs, obstructed progress at climate talks, and tasked a denier with reviewing (read: scrapping) the Renewable Energy Target (RET). From 7 July, the first sitting day of the new Senate, his government will advance legislation to repeal the carbon tax (scheduled to soon become an emissions trading scheme or ETS), Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), and Climate Change Authority (CCA). Abbott proposes to replace these with a voluntary Emissions Reduction Fund. Labor and the Greens are trying to defend the policies they negotiated during the former government, meaning Abbott must persuade six of eight crossbench Senators to pass his repeal bills. Palmer controls a pivotal four Senators.
It’s hard to take seriously any climate policy from Palmer, as his aim to build Australia’s largest coal mine is a massive conflict of interests. He has accused the Greens of being funded by the CIA; he waited until just before an election to pay his carbon tax bill; and three months ago he misleadingly claimed nature emits more CO2 than humans. He now claims to have been enlightened by meeting Al Gore. Who knows what he will say or do tomorrow?
Having expressed a bewildering succession of contradictory positions on the repeal bills, Palmer waited until the last week of the outgoing Senate to show his hand. He did so in a grandiose press conference peppered with vaguely greenish and leftish clichés about the common good and the future of all people, with a partial endorsement from Gore and no opportunity for journalists to ask questions. Here’s his new policy in a nutshell: Continue reading