Labor Would Keep Us Handcuffed To The Paris Climate Deal

 - November 12

Opposition legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus’s comment yesterday that Joel Fitzgibbon’s opinions on climate change represented the views of “only a handful” of people within the Labor Party is precisely what someone representing the bayside suburbs of Melbourne would say.

And Anthony Albanese’s recommitment to Labor’s net-zero emissions by 2050 mandate is exactly the type of policy someone from inner-city Sydney would think Australia needs in the middle of a recession.

But rather than seizing on the opportunity to develop an energy and climate policy focused on reliability, affordability and jobs, Coalition governments at the federal and state level continue with their own shortsighted policies.

The federal government remains committed to handcuffing Australian industry and workers to the Paris Agreement, which has imposed on Australia the deepest cuts to emissions on a per capita basis anywhere in the world.

This is despite the fact the agreement permits the single largest emitter, China, to increase its emissions without constraint.

Modelling by the Institute of Public Affairs prepared in 2018 estimated that the Paris Agreement would cause the cost of generating electricity in Australia to increase by $52bn from 2018 to 2030, which is the equivalent to the cost of building 22 new hospitals.

As foolish as this is, NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean’s proposed energy electricity infrastructure roadmap is promising to go further by handing out billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidise the generation of 12 gigawatts of renewable energy and 2GW of storage.

Even Kean acknowledges the plan will create only about 900 jobs a year on average across the next decade. That compares to the 315,000 workers in NSW employed in the mining and manufacturing sectors whose jobs would be put at terminal risk by the proposal. Kean’s argument that his plan will put downward pressure on electricity prices is unscientific and inconsistent with the best available evidence.

Since 2000, residential electricity prices across Australia have risen 220 per cent as the share of renewables on the national energy grid have increased from 8 per cent to 20 per cent. This means that for every one percentage point increase to renewables on the grid, electricity prices have increased by 18 per cent.

Kean also said NSW needed to replace four of the state’s five coal-fired power stations during the next 15 years. But the best thing to replace coal with is more coal because it is cheaper, reliable and creates more jobs than wind, solar, and hydro.

The left and its cheerleaders at the ABC, the universities and big corporations have seized on Joe Biden’s yet to be officially confirmed accession to the White House to reignite decades’ old climate wars. Yet in doing so they have misread the key result of the US presidential election, which is that the future is Florida, not California.

President Donald Trump easily won Florida with its large Hispanic and Latino population by about four percentage points, despite the sunshine state usually being a toss-up.

To take another example, Trump won Zapata County, which sits on the Texas-Mexico border and has 85 per cent Hispanic or Latino population, by more than five percentage points. In 2016, Zapata went for Hillary Clinton by a 33-point margin.

On a national basis the only demographic Trump went backwards on was white men; he made gains with African-Americans, Latinos, women and Hispanics.

The US election shows that the trajectory of Western democracies, including Australia, is towards the aspirations of multiracial, multiethnic, working and middle-class voters who reject divisive identity politics, celebrate their nation, along with its values and history and freedom, and believe all work — whether in a coalmine or as hairdresser — has dignity and meaning.

This is why Fitzgibbon is so right when he said “We (Labor) also need to talk to aspiration — those coalminers on $150,000, $200,000 a year, who have big mortgages but have worked hard, and made big decisions on behalf of their family, who can’t afford to have politicians specifically close down their industries.”

But it has been years since Labor has spoken to workers and the Australian heartland. Instead, the result of Labor’s policies, such as mass migration, emissions reduction, internationalism, higher taxes, more regulation and mandatory superannuation have undermined the jobs, wages and opportunities of working and middle-class Australians.

Labor’s propagation of identity politics, support for an Indigenous-only body to advise parliament and attacks on freedom of speech and religion have divided Australians at a time we should unite around our shared values.

Australia might not be Florida — yet — but a realignment is coming, whether the major parties are ready for it or not.