This is something of a follow-on from a previous post, in which I tried to create a recipe listing for regularly repeated misrepresentations, lies, factoids and errors that were being used to try and mask Australia’s under-performance on emissions targets.
Today, Scott Morrison is being interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He is very likely to use phrases like ‘right now‘ and ‘meet and beat‘ and ‘in 2020, this year, we will…‘. They are designed to imply that Australia is already doing what so many are crying out for: quickly acting to reduce emissions, and leading other countries in their efforts to do the same.
He has an unimaginative rotating wheel of Climate Declarations that will be laid out in rapid succession, when David Speers says something like ‘Many have criticised your lack of action on climate change’. Morrison might say something like ‘Twitter bubble’ or ‘Quiet Australians’. But he will definitely say one of the following things. I have grouped them into three categories: declarations about the past, the present and the future.
Each of them is a nugget of malarkey.
“We have among the highest per-capita rates of renewable energy in the world”
This is contentious, and it depends on how you do the sums. But it’s undeniable Aus is well up there, in the world. That is because the centre-left Labor party implemented a 41,000 gigawatt hour renewable energy target (it is also partly because Australia has among the highest per capita rates of energy consumption in the world).
Renewable energy has been constantly attacked by the Liberal party. They tried scrapping that target, couldn’t and reverted to reducing it to 33,000 gigawatt hours instead. Australia would have more renewables, and lower emissions, were it not for their efforts. Now, they’re taking credit for their own failure to scrap clean technology ambition. It’s gross.
“We meeted and beated our Kyoto targets”
Okay, he might not say it like that, but he’ll say something like that. That’s because Australia lobbied, hard, for these targets to be set so painfully weak that Australia could increase its emissions and still meet the targets. This is something to be deeply ashamed of, but it’s presented, appallingly, as an achievement.
Think about that. Scott Morrison will, in an interview about climate-intensified fires, be bragging about how he and his buddies in that political party contributed to making them worse.
“My policy has no impact on this bushfire”
Australia’s policies alone aren’t solely responsible for planetary climate change, but Australia’s role is far, far bigger than the country’s relatively tiny population. It broke Kyoto negotiations and today it is breaking Paris negotiations. It exports climate denier memes. It is the world’s second biggest supplier of the primary cause of this problem – coal- and the world’s third biggest exporter of emissions.
No one is saying that Australia’s policies alone could’ve prevented the planet’s trajectory. But had Australia started the 2000’s leading, rather than hindering, the climatic conditions that worsened Australia’s bushfires would not be as bad, because emissions would be lower. Again. He is the representative of a group of people who lobbied to actively worsen the factors that made this bushfire season so catastrophic. That he is using this as a declaration of pride and defence is truly fucked.
“Emissions per year today, under our government, are on average 50 million tonnes less than they were under the previous government”
If it sounds jarring to hear so many qualifiers piled into one sentence like a stinky, sweaty lift full of too many people, that’s because it’s as dodgy as you suspected it was.
If you average out all the years, the Labor party’s number is a fraction lower than the government’s. If you exclude the controversial category, the current government’s emissions are WAY higher:
“Emissions are lower now than when we entered government”
Also the result of revisions. Also a recent thing. Also a lie, if you exclude the constantly-revised, low-quality data, emissions are higher. And they were higher only a few months ago, prior to the historical changes.
“We are meeting and beating our Paris targets”
No, if you draw a straight line from now to the Paris due date, Australia’s emissions are going in the wrong direction. Also, renewable energy, which has been doing the heavy lifting, will stop growing in 2020, as the gov’t scheme runs out of steam. So it’ll get worse.
“We will meet and beat our Paris targets”
No. Australia is projected to miss them, by the government’s own environment department. The only way Australia *might* hit them is if it uses a loophole to increase the amount of allowable emissions by two times. Think about that: during a time when human lives are being destroyed by a climate-intensified disaster, Scott Morrison is trying, very, very hard, to make it worse.
That should instigate an immediate mix of fury and panic. Increasingly, it really does.
“Our policies don’t pursue reckless job destroying and economy destroying targets which won’t reduce bushfire risk, but will take people’s jobs”
This is a reference to the Labor party’s 45% emissions reductions target, taken to the last election. It was framed as something that would ‘destroy the economy’. That was a fabrication, but it worked.
Decarbonisation strengthens economies and it creates jobs. That has been pretty solidly proven by everything Australia has done so far, including a carbon pricing scheme where the economy grew, and a renewable energy industry that thrived despite the government’s attacks.
It’s important to be clear about what is happening here. Climate change made Australia’s bushfires worse. It lifted the disaster from an impactful but predictable occurrence to something that has broken records in a multitude of ways. One of the biggest evacuations. The worst smoke. The highest temps. The driest year. The most land burnt. The highest number of concurrent fires. The highest greenhouse gas emissions from fire. The highest radiative power from a fire. The worst impact on property.
It is properly undeniable. Soon, Scott Morrison is about to go onto the national broadcaster and explain, in his own pre-set declarative way, why Australia should participate in making something so horrific, so impactful and so cruel even worse.
Think about what that means.