Alan Kohler, in an opinion piece in the pretend Murdoch ‘newspaper’ The Australian, has called for a Royal Commission into climate change and uses, as an analogy, the banking Royal Commission1. The latter was something that the government tried to avoid, such that it had to be dragged kicking and screaming to actually convene it, when some of the government’s own backbenchers started kicking up a stink. To cover themselves, the government got the banks to ask for it. The banks and the government tried to limit the damage by abbreviating the length of the inquiry, but Commissioner Hayne was too astute for them and uncovered malfeasance on an industrial scale. His disgust with the government was obvious when he had to present his findings to Josh Frydenberg, in front of the cameras, and refused to shake hands with him.
Kohler says “we’re in the midst of a similar process with climate change and now need a final believable, public debate where the issue can be tested judicially and agreement reached.” I have rarely heard something so silly. We do not need an enquiry into the veracity of climate change. That was sorted out 30 years ago when the first IPCC report came out2.
The problem with Kohler’s use of this analogy is that there was evidence of malfeasance long before the Banking Royal Commission. You have a Royal Commission to investigate wrongdoing, not science. Having a Royal Commission into climate change is not analogous to the banking RC. The banking RC investigated the perpetrators, not the whistle-blowers and complainants. There are still some nutters out there who do not believe in evolution, spheroidal earth3, gravity or heliocentricity. While these were sorted out by scientists many years or even millennia in the past, there are still a few fruitcakes around who won’t have a bar of them. Using Kohler’s logic, we should have a Royal Commission into all these facts too, solely because of the ridiculous beliefs of those nutters (some of whom are in parliament).
Kohler does make the point that the government seems incapable of doing their job with regard to climate change, even to the extent that they have attacked big business (notably BHP Billiton) for having the gall to take account of climate change in its future planning. The only benefit of having a Royal Commission will be for the government; they will be able to use it as an excuse to change tack, and to kick the far-right climate change deniers in its ranks in the goolies, but given that the government has been taken over by them, it is unlikely. It will also allow the government to plead ignorance and give them at least a chance of avoiding justice, whether it be at the International Criminal Court or something much, much worse.
What we do need a Royal Commission into, is the climate change denial industry. That would be interesting, and would provide many more names for the list of those to face justice. Just imagine the government, assorted mining organisations, media organisations and lobbyists having to reveal why they have taken their stance against the science, what money changed hands when, and where it came from4,5,6. That would be the beginning of some sort of justice.