February 22nd 2020

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Coronavirus: China must answer hard questions

EDITORIAL Inquiry needed into medically transitioning children

CANBERRA OBSERVED Nationals leave the home paddock unattended

ENVIRONMENTALISM Bushfires are being used as fuel for green polling

GENDER POLITICS Senator Amanda Stoker takes a stand on transgenderism

RURAL AFFAIRS Drought loan scheme deficient in delivery

MANUFACTURING Renewables push puts aluminium smelters at risk

ENERGY Is agricultural biomass viable as an energy producer?

SOCIETY Cold is more lethal than heat worldwide

CLIMATE POLICY Adaptation: A better way to tackle global warming

LITERATURE AND SOCIETY The poetry of Distributism

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY What if the French had settled Australia?

HUMOUR Ern Malley Writers' Festival goes 'bang'

MUSIC Nina Simone: At the raw edge of pain

CINEMA Where wars intersect our lives: A Hidden Life, Midway

BOOK REVIEW Atheism with an Islamic cast gives way to the Catholic Church

BOOK REVIEW The janitor opened a door




CLIMATE POLITICS Business joins Big Brother in climate-change chorus

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Business joins Big Brother in climate-change chorus

by Chris McCormack

News Weekly, February 22, 2020


  •  Business told to agree to climate rules or face global regulators
  • 2 Insurers claim climate change means premiums will have to rise 
  • 3 BCA recommends $660 billion be spent on climate change

Business groups, financial regu­lators and millionaire bankers are turning the screws to force governments and companies to act on climate change “or go broke”.

Mark Carney, $52 million man and governor of the Bank of England, in an interview with The Guardian, said: “Companies that don’t adapt [to climate change] will go bankrupt without question … Industries, sectors and firms that do very well during [the transition to zero carbon] will be part of the solution … but there will also be ones that lag behind and they will be punished.”

Carney claimed that U.S. coal com­panies had lost 90 per cent of their value and, in what appeared to be a veiled threat, said those banks invested in such areas “will suffer accordingly”.

He told big corporations they had two years to agree to rules for reporting climate risks or face compulsory ones imposed by global regulators.

Meanwhile, an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) paper claimed only one in five companies it regulates was meeting voluntary climate-risk disclosure targets set out by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, an international private-sector initiative chaired by U.S. billionaire Michael Bloomberg. APRA said there was “no excuse for inaction”.

Business Council of Australia (BCA) chief Jennifer Westacott channelled Mark Carney by calling for net zero emissions (NZE) by 2050 in Australia. The BCA says its “membership is made up of the CEOs of Australia’s top companies” and lists 134 member companies, including energy-intensive manufacturers such as Alcoa, BHP Billiton, Boral, Rio Tinto and others. How they reconcile NZE with their continuing survival, is a mystery.

The BCA scoping paper suggests that at least $660 billion be spent by 2050 in pursuit of NZE – preferably without use of carryover carbon credits – and that we should adopt a market-based carbon price.

Furthermore, all domestic road, sea and air transport should be electrified or “require significant new technology development, which is more likely to be imported”. Clearly, the BCA lives in an alternate reality.

Eliminating agricultural emissions “requires tailored solutions and efficient monitoring and reporting techniques”; aka, centralised control, which Queensland farmers have had a taste of in the form of restrictive land-clearing laws that have locked up great proportions of their productive land (See News Weekly, August 24, 2019, p9).

One has to wonder whether the views and livelihoods of all workers in the 134 member companies were considered or whether the chief exe­cutives are pushing their own agenda, the consequences be damned.

Pursuing NZE through a purely solar/wind/battery-driven power grid is pure fantasy. Glencore Coal’s then-CEO Peter Freyberg told media in 2017 that South Australia’s (largest in the world) lithium ion battery would power one of their aluminium smelters for 7.7 minutes. Glencore contributed $15.6 billion to the Australian economy in 2018.

Meanwhile, Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said: “Charting a course for Australia to [NZE] by 2050 … is a high priority.”

Groupthink and illogic have infected big business big time.

Despite insurer QBE posting a 41 per cent profit increase for the year to December, chief executive Pat Regan told The Australian that insurance premiums might become unaffordable for customers living in areas at risk of extreme weather. QBE has altered its catastrophe models to factor in the expected impacts of climate change out to 2100.

Insurance Australia Group CEO Peter Harmer said climate change meant premiums would have to rise.

ALP climate spokesman Mark Butler said that, on current settings, it would take Australia 230 years to reach NZE. Is this because he knows that electricity comprises only 36 per cent of our carbon-dioxide emissions and deep cuts would have to be made to every sector of the economy, decimating jobs and our standard of living?

Nonetheless, Butler welcomed inde­pendent MP Zali Steggall’s infantile NZE bill, which, if the Government has any regard for the national interest, will not see the light of day.

Likewise, the Government should rule out any possibility of signing the NZE target that is to be considered by 80 countries at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow in November. Nationals Leader Michael McCormack said signing could see “farmers being forced offshore, having to import food like there’s no tomorrow.”

Senator Matt Canavan warned he might cross the floor if the Government sought an NZE. If the Liberals ignore the views of the Nationals on this, it could split the Coalition.

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm