The Emissions Data the Government Didn’t Want You To See
The Government released it’s Quarterly Greenhouse Gas Inventory last Friday, but don’t be shocked if you missed it.
The Government released its Quarterly Greenhouse Gas Inventory late last Friday afternoon, before a long weekend and the football finals, at the same time as the interim report into the banking royal commission and it was a month late.
A more cynical person might think the government didn’t want the release to attract too much attention.
The Quarterly Inventory showed new record highs for Australia’s emissions. So, rather than our emissions going down — like Australia is committed to doing under the Paris agreement — they have instead gone up. Just as they have every year since the axing of the carbon price.
The government claims that Australia is on track to meet its Paris climate change target but all the evidence says we are not.
Not only does the Department of the Environment and Energy’s own data show that emissions are rising, but the government has abandoned its centrepiece climate and energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee.
On top of this, they have also refused to extend the Renewable Energy Target, which means it won’t encourage any new renewable energy in Australia after 2020.
Even funding to the Abbott era Emissions Reduction Fund — which was a useful tool to reduce emissions in some sectors, but was never going to be large enough to do the bulk of the required emissions reduction — has no new funding.
These are not the actions of a government taking climate change seriously.
Australia’s new Energy Minister.
Energy and climate change are closely linked, so any real action on climate will have to involve energy.
Australia’s current Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, has described attempts to reduce emissions as “virtue signalling” and policies that reduce emissions as “corporate greed dressed up as saving the planet”.
The Prime Minister claims that Australia will meet its Paris target in a canter but, once again, all the evidence says the opposite.
It is not that emissions aren’t falling fast enough, emissions aren’t falling at all. Every year we’re getting further and further from our Paris target. In fact, the Department of Environment and Energy predicts we will miss the target by a massive 128 million tonnes in 2030.
This all looks very familiar.
That’s because this is exactly what Mr Abbott did when he was Prime Minister.
Credibility on climate policy takes action not just words. And since being removed as Prime Minister, it has become abundantly clear that Abbott doesn’t believe that climate change is a problem or that we need to take action.
But in 2014 when he was Prime Minister, Tony Abbott said he believed humans were contributing to climate change and it was important to take strong and effective action against it — but you wouldn’t have known this from his policies.
He was trying to water down the RET, axe the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, get rid of the Climate Change Commission, cut funding to the mandatory efficiency program and of course axe the carbon price.
His actions didn’t match his words, and the question is: will our new Prime Minister Scott Morrison be the same kind of PM as Tony Abbott?
Trust in politicians is at an all-time low.
This is in part because people don’t think politicians do what they say. The evidence shows that climate change is a real threat to Australia and the world, and Australia must take real action to reduce emissions.
If the government does not intend to act on (or have) a policy to reduce emissions, then Scott Morrison should tell the Australian people that. Then we can have a real discussion about it and the people can make up their own minds and have a genuine choice at the next election.
But perhaps that’s why things seem so unclear. After all, polling consistently says a large majority of Australians want to see more action on climate change.
The Australian public has a right to judge our government on their actions and results, not on words. Emissions are rising, not falling. And until emissions fall, on climate, the government is all hot air.
By Matt Grudnoff, Senior Economist at The Australia Institute.