We’re pay­ing bil­lions for yes­ter­day’s ac­cord

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - PETA CREDLIN -

A FEW weeks ago, in Bangkok, there was a six-day meet­ing of the world’s cli­mate change bu­reau­crats to thrash out the de­tails of a new rule book for the Paris Agree­ment.

In De­cem­ber, world lead­ers will all con­gre­gate in Poland for the UN’s Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence — COP24 as it’s known — and like Copen­hagen and Paris that went be­fore it, af­ter their pos­tur­ing speeches and group pho­to­graph, the politi­cians will “agree” what’s al­ready been agreed by these bu­reau­crats in Bangkok. Or so that was the plan. But Bangkok went off the rails. Of­fi­cially it was re­ported as “be­set with ten­sion”, that key is­sues were “stale­mated” and that the fu­ture of the Paris deal was “on the brink”.

Cen­tral to this lack of con­sen­sus was a fight about the pro­posed rule book gov­ern­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion and mon­i­tor­ing of var­i­ous Paris Agree­ment com­mit­ments.

But, re­ally, the con­flict was about the money.

For­get all the lan­guage about ris­ing sea lev­els in the Pa­cific and sav­ing po­lar bears, the real pur­pose of in­ter­na­tional cli­mate change agree­ments is to move money from the de­vel­oped world, rich coun­tries such as Aus­tralia and the US, to poor coun­tries in the de­vel­op­ing world.

The Paris Agree­ment is not about the en­vi­ron­ment; it is about dein­dus­tri­al­is­ing the West and im­pos­ing a “moral tax” on na­tions that used fos­sil fu­els to build wealth over the past two cen­turies. Key in fa­cil­i­tat­ing this is the new $100 bil­lion global cli­mate change fund.

In Bangkok, Aus­tralia and the US were ac­cused of stalling ne­go­ti­a­tions on the fund be­cause they de­manded greater trans­parency for how their bil­lions would be spent. Quite rightly, the grow­ing scep­ti­cism of tax­pay­ers in both our coun­tries is forc­ing a re­think on money be­ing given away, hand over fist, to these global en­ti­ties for lit­tle or no en­vi­ron­men­tal gain.

Like for­eign aid, which I grow ever more con­cerned fails to reach the peo­ple who des­per­ately need it, I fear much of the cli­mate change mil­lions are merely be­ing used to prop up the budgets of poorer coun­tries, un­der the guise of green re­li­gion pol­i­tick­ing, hid­ing more sys­temic fi­nan­cial prob­lems in their coun­tries, such as lack of gov­er­nance and cor­rup­tion.

But it gets worse, be­cause this week the cli­mate change shame po­lice came knock­ing on Aus­tralia’s door again. De­spite our mi­nus­cule con­tri­bu­tion of 1.3 per cent of global emis­sions as a na­tion, we’re now told we’re ex­pected to pony up some four bil­lion dol­lars — that’s more than four thou­sand mil­lion of your money — as part of our prom­ises at the Paris con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber 2015.

Or rather Mal­colm Turn­bull’s com­mit­ments, re­mem­ber him?

While it was the Ab­bott gov­ern­ment that first put Aus­tralia’s 26 per cent emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get on the ta­ble, it did so on the ad­vice we could achieve these re­duc­tions, with­out any pol­icy change, and with­out any sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic dam­age.

It was also on the writ­ten un­der­stand­ing the emis­sions re­duc­tion agree­ment would in­clude all coun­tries.

Three years on, we now know that even ex­ist­ing emis­sions re­duc­tions pol­icy is putting power prices through the roof, send­ing jobs off­shore, and risk­ing black­outs when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

We now know, the emis­sions com­mis­sars will soon turn their at­ten­tion to culling our an­i­mal herds and putting a car­bon tax on cars. What’s more — and this should be the clincher — we now know that three of the four big­gest emit­ters will make no com­mit­ments what­so­ever to re­duc­ing their emis­sions, leav­ing Aus­tralia in an even worse po­si­tion than be­fore.

Now when cir­cum­stances change smart peo­ple change their po­si­tion. Tony Ab­bott has said that if we’d known then, what we know now, he’d never have agreed to a 26 per cent emis­sions re­duc­tion.

Let’s never for­get it was the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment that signed the Paris Agree­ment and then raced out and rat­i­fied it the day af­ter Trump was elected, know­ing the US were out. So far, and with­out much con­vic­tion, Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son has said we’re stay­ing in — but that shouldn’t mean that we hand over even more money to global green bu­reau­crats.

To big note him­self at the Paris con­fer­ence, Mr Turn­bull promised “up to a bil­lion dol­lars” for this UN green cli­mate fund that was sup­posed to to­tal no less than $100 bil­lion each and every year.

Now, some­thing called the World Re­sources In­sti­tute says this week that Aus­tralia should be the sixth big­gest donor to this fund — be­hind Amer­ica, Bri­tain, Japan, Ger­many and Canada — be­cause of our wealth, and be­cause of our his­tor­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion to car­bon diox­ide emis­sions — and what was ini­tially sup­posed to be a one-off con­tri­bu­tion, of bil­lions, could even be con­verted to an an­nual tax at the De­cem­ber meet­ing in Poland.

I can ap­pre­ci­ate that Prime Min­is­ter Mor­ri­son is re­luc­tant to change an in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ment made by his pre­de­ces­sor. But that’s a weak rea­son in my book.

Af­ter all, just the other day La­bor agreed to sup­port the TPP trade deal as it stands but have al­ready said they’ll change it if elected. So, if they can change in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments made by an­other gov­ern­ment, why can’t Mor­ri­son move here and be his own man?

It’s one thing to stick with Paris, and on that I dis­agree with the PM, but it’s an­other thing al­to­gether to keep shov­el­ling out good money af­ter bad to a fund we don’t con­trol.

Mr Mor­ri­son should send a clear sig­nal that he’s in charge here, not the face­less global bu­reau­crats, by walk­ing away from Turn­bull’s prom­ise to put a bil­lion dol­lars in the fund and de­clare from here on in “Aus­tralia comes first”.

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