While Al Gore was in Queensland, he was offering up some more whoppers – days after Labor lost the ‘climate election’.
In politics, timing is crucial. And thus it was with the unfortunately timed participation of former US vice-president Al Gore in the Queensland government-sponsored Climate Week earlier this month.
According to the blurb, “Climate Week QLD 2019 will showcase how the state is transitioning to a low-carbon, clean-growth economy and building a community of action to address climate change.”
Occurring as it did after the unexpected victory of the Morrison government, Gore’s pronouncements during the week about the perils of climate change — let’s face it, he easily wins the gold medal in the boy-who-cried-wolf category when it comes to climate-induced apocalypses — were particularly jarring.
As for that photographed pose of Gore and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad cuddling up to each other, it’s probably best not to comment.
It would have been fun to be a fly on the wall when the planning for this gala week occurred. The expectation would have been that Labor would win the federal election, with the clear message that the public was demanding “real action on climate change” — so the motto goes. Reference would have been made to Bill Shorten’s plans to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and for 50 per cent of electricity to be generated by renewable energy sources.
The Queensland government would endorse these targets while arguing for more ambitious ones. Reference would be made to the Palaszczuk government’s pledge for the state to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Without doubt, Big Al would be supportive.
Of course, the Great Barrier Reef would need to be a central part of the story. And the potential for the final rejection of the Adani project would complete a very satisfactory week of positive, vote-winning news items for the Queensland government.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would give Gore the time of day. After all, he is not a trained scientist; he appears to make a living from concocting scary climate stories.
While he was in Queensland, he was offering up some more whoppers. Maybe he thought the appearance fee he received — estimated to be $320,000, paid for by Queensland taxpayers — necessitated the delivery of some sensational unsubstantiated claims.
To tell an audience that the choice is between Adani and the Great Barrier Reef is puerile and misinformed. To suggest that India is now sourcing 60 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources is just plain wrong — out by a factor of four to five. And these statements come on top of the many falsehoods Gore has peddled in the past. These include:
• In 2006, he claimed that the planet would reach a “point of no return” in 10 years.
• In the same year, he predicted that sea levels would rise by 20 feet (just over 6m) “in the near future”.
• In 2008, he claimed that the north polar cap would be completely ice-free within five years.
• In 2011, he claimed that polar bears would soon become close to extinction (their number has been rising).
Presumably, these faulty predictions were known to the organising committee as well as to the key politicians — Annastacia Palaszczuk, Trad and Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch — who supported the shindig. But Gore is a name and his discredited propaganda doesn’t prevent him from being a regular invitee to the annual conferences of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Recall that the last one was held in Poland during a particularly cold weather snap.
So now that Gore has left town on his private jet — no doubt some sort of carbon offsets were arranged — state governments and the renewable energy industry, in particular, are in the process of reconsidering their approach to climate change and their interaction with the federal Coalition government.
There is no doubt that most of the renewable energy players were devastated by the May 18 election result. Their hopes, in descending order, were: Labor victory; defeat of Energy Minister Angus Taylor in his seat of Hume in NSW; and the appointment of anyone but Taylor as the next energy minister.
These hopes have been completely dashed.
A vitriolic, misleading and well-funded campaign was waged against Taylor, including the dredging up of snippets from his successful commercial past that were intended to cast doubt on his integrity — indeed, suitability for high office.
In the end, the self-serving, mean-spirited attempt to damage Taylor completely backfired and he was returned to parliament with a swing towards him. Not only does he remain the Energy Minister but his areas of responsibilities have been expanded to include emissions reduction.
One of the problems for the mendicant renewable energy players in dealing with Taylor is that he is just too smart and commercially experienced. He understands the industry like the back of his hand and is happy to query the sometimes faulty advice he receives from the bureaucracy.
He knows that claims that renewable energy-sourced electricity is now cheaper than coal-fired electricity are not correct and that Australia’s electricity generation mix will involve a range of technologies in the future.
He is committed to increasing supply and promoting greater competition to drive down prices. These measures are in line with the recommendations of the report of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission on retail electricity prices.
The renewable energy players will be forced to stand on their own two feet — for a change — and will need to adjust to the new reliability standards that come into play on July 1. Penalties are being imposed on far-flung installations and contributions are expected to fund the additional grid infrastructure required to hook up new wind and solar farms.