Wednesday, 12 December 2007

New Australian government shows climate common sense

I am on record as bagging the Labor Party's climate change plan in the lead up to the federal election won by them last month. I thought it was a weak point that the Coalition could exploit because of its open-ended financial commitment.

I am happy to report that common sense is prevailing and the government will not sign up to onerous targets if the rest of the world doesn't also carry their part of the burden - including developing nations.

Labor picked up votes in the election by cleverly playing its environmental credentials and in the process they suppressed the Green vote; it's always a good thing when the totalitarian left of the environment movement get one in the eye if you ask me.

People may ask why the government has backed away from some of its more hysterical climate change positions (such as 60-80% cut by 2050). I reckon the answer is that now they're in government they're getting the real advice from real scientists and they're not so convinced of the strength of their position. That's one of the reasons that Howard would never buy into Kyoto. Good policy. Bad politics.
KEVIN Rudd, Wayne Swan and Penny Wong have acted correctly and courageously at the Bali climate change conference in refusing to be drawn into any early acceptance, or even consideration, of medium-term binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Prime Minister, playing the world stage and showcasing his Mandarin, has acted to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and wants to be a go-between for China and the US.

But from the moment confused reports began to appear from Bali about the need to adopt emission cuts of between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020, Rudd has been steadfast in his opposition.

The Treasurer and the Climate Change Minister have been positive and encouraging but determined not to be seen to be adopting targets before they know what they will cost.

Australia, after its warm reception at Bali because of its ratification of the symbolically important Kyoto Protocol, is now getting a cooler welcome from the UN and environmental groups for not adopting the 25-40 per cent figures.

Australia, always the recalcitrant under the Howard government, is now being lumped with developed doubters such as Japan, Canada and the US, which fear the cost of buying an emissions pig in a poke.

This of course was always going to be the testing time for Labor's climate change policy - the negotiations for a new global system after the Kyoto agreement expires.

What it also shows - and what has surprised some people - is that the Labor Government's outlook and attitude, which is correctly based on waiting for Ross Garnaut's assessment of the economic cost of new targets, now appears little different to that of John Howard.

During the election campaign, Rudd wanted to concentrate on the period to 2012, when ratifying Kyoto was a powerful totemic but largely hollow symbol, and never to talk about the era of the "new Kyoto".

Rudd knew the negotiations with developing nations would be tough and could be an economic threat. That's what he is doing now. Under the mask of being a Kyoto ratifier, he's looking after Australia's national interest. It's just not what some green groups and Labor voters expected.
(Nothing Follows)

3 comments:

ex-patriot said...

Personally, I prefer it when the cynical right wing economic irrationalists cop it.

And if the election results mean anything, I might be in the majority.

I'm hoping Johnny is the LAST liberal PM in history. You can lick your wounds and dream of the good ole days.

lowincomelady said...

Good on ya Kev!

Jack Lacton said...

Ex-pat,

As my dear old mum, who is approaching 80, says - in her lifetime Labor has buggered the economy and Liberal has fixed it. For all of our sakes I hope that the cycle breaks this time and we can continue to prosper.

That said, I do think that state Labor has been a disaster for Australia. Broken hospitals, shocking education, poor infrastructure - state governments' fault.