Greenhouse hide and seek

By July 9, 2017Australian Politics

The government held back official greenhouse gas emissions data for over a month, and these show that emissions up to December 2016 are still climbing and have done ever since the carbon tax was repealed by the climate change denier Abbott. It seems that, based on current policies, emissions will continue to rise until 2030 and beyond. Emissions are currently at about 550 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), but to honour our commitment to the Paris Accord, they are supposed to drop to about 440 Mtpa. Based on the current rise and projections from that, emissions look set to rise to about 590 Mtpa1.

All the weak-kneed Minister for Energy and Environment Josh Frydenberg could do was tweet “….NB electricity sector emissions decreased by 1.3% in Dec Qtr”1. That is an example of lying by omission, a common tactic used by politicians to make things seem better than they are in reality2. Emissions nearly always fall in the December quarter, as the worst of the winter dissipates and the weather warms up, before getting hotter in the March quarter. From projections modelled by NDEVR Environmental, it is expected that the rise in the March quarter will be dramatic1.

Ever since it was introduced by the Abbott government, the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) has been falling behind its targets, in part because its funding has not delivered the emissions reductions expected, and because companies tend to steer clear of it because of the regulatory burden3. The recent increase in emissions demonstrates the ERF is an abject failure. Contrast this with the decrease in carbon dioxide emissions while the carbon tax was in place, when emissions from electricity generation decreased as much as 17 Mtpa4. As you would expect, then Environment Minister Greg Hunt also lied by omission when he said the carbon tax was not effective, stating that emissions fell 0.1% in the first year. While that is true, they fell 0.8% the following year, the largest annual fall in the 24 years of monitoring4.

The stupidity of the Abbott government in repealing the carbon tax cannot be overestimated, particularly when just about everybody, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), agrees that the best way to curb emissions is with a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme5. We had a carbon tax (commenced in 2012), which was expected to morph into an emissions trading scheme at some time. New Zealand has had an emissions trading scheme for 9 years; Sweden has had a carbon tax for 26 years; the European Union emissions trading scheme began 12 years ago6.

This just goes to show you the parlous state of conservative politics in Australia, epitomised by the Prime Ministership, with the monosyllabic Abbott followed by the hamstrung Turnbull. It is a shame, and a disgrace.




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