Much better from Crikey’s Bernard Keane today after yesterday’s garbage:
With Abbott desperate to keep climate off the G20 agenda (because it’s not an economic issue … an even more bizarre form of denialism than claiming climate change doesn’t exist), the announcement couldn’t have come at a worse time for him. The Coalition’s entire post-Malcolm Turnbull strategy on climate action has been based on an assumption that there would be no concerted international action on the issue, especially by the biggest economies. That would allow Australia, with its risible bipartisan target of a 5% emissions reduction by 2020, to escape serious scrutiny (indeed, our emissions have now started rising again after a period of decline). As Treasury stated in 2010, the government’s Direct Action policy won’t even achieve that 5% at its then-budgeted allocation — which has since shrunk considerably. But Abbott has said there won’t be any more money allocated to it even if it falls short.
Whatever implausible hopes the government has that Direct Action will be enough turn to pure fantasy given that Australia now has no excuse not to lift its emissions reduction target from 5% to 15% or higher in the wake of international action. That’s why the Obama-Xi agreement is so damaging: it leaves the Coalition with no place to hide on an issue where it has long wanted to have it both ways — to behave like the denialists and resource company advocates they are but pretend to want to address climate change so as not to lose mainstream voters.
It’s pretty simple, really, with the G2 moving on aggressive climate change mitigation we look extraordinarily naked, though no doubt unreasoning Republicans will offer us a fig leaf.
Meanwhile, the G20 may actually throw up a coal clanger, from Paddy Manning also at Crikey:
It will be strange optics if, only days after China and the United States unveiled a historic climate deal, India and Australia proclaim their commitment to building the biggest coal mine in the southern hemisphere.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Australia tomorrow ahead of the weekend’s G20 leaders summit in Brisbane, and he will address Australian Parliament on Monday. Last week Queensland Premier Campbell Newman hinted that Modi was likely to make a major announcement about Indian power giant Adani’s Carmichael project, which will open up the Galilee Basin, a whole new thermal coal province.
Adani is tight-lipped, but environment sources fear the announcement could confirm Adani as “first mover” in the Galilee — giving the company an open-ended holiday from state coal royalties — or go further and abolish any appeal rights against the project.
Adani is the last man standing in the Galilee, and Newman is on a veritable crusade to ensure the $16 billion project, including a 400-kilometre rail line and new export terminal at Abbot Point, is developed as soon as possible.
I have never argued that Australian coal should be shelved. In fact, one reason that I’m so supportive of a carbon price is that it would enable the coal industry to transition not collapse and its continuing existence would be offset by emission reductions globally. But this project is a shocker in the timing and in the execution.
Very high cost, Galilee makes absolutely no economic sense beyond a few years of construction jobs for Campbell Newman while ensuring the ongoing decline in the thermal coal price, hitting incomes and profits in exchange for greater volumes that actually add nothing to local activity except as an accounting entry to prop up government egos.
We should all hope that this project fails on every front and for every reason.