Australia's policy on climate change is completely inconsequential

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Norm Smith Medallist
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As a thought experiment let's make an assumption

Anthropogenic CO2 is causing dangerous warming to the planet.​

There's other threads debating this topic but let's go with it for the sake of argument.

The goal of the Paris agreement is to keep global temperature rises this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This is to be achieved by each country implementing policies to reduce or mitigate CO2 emissions.

The reality.
The two countries with the largest anthropogenic CO2 emissions, China and USA, are effectively not signatories to the Paris Agreement. China's emissions grew by 80% between 2005 and 2018, and are expected to grow for at the least the next decade.

Most countries that are signatories will fail to meet their targets. Eg. India, which is the 3rd biggest emitter and will soon be the 2nd biggest. India's anthropogenic emissions grew by 76% between 2005 and 2017, and are expected to keep growing. India's policy was to create a cumulative carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 by forest cover expansion. It is a long way behind on this plan and will probably never fulfil it.

Under the agreement, countries that are signatories can set their own emissions reduction targets. Sometimes this can mean their anthropogenic emissions go up. Eg. Russia which has the 4th highest emissions. Their target is based on 1990 emission levels. However, the collapse of the Soviet economy led to Russia's 2017 emissions being 32 per cent lower than in 1990. Thus it can actually 'pollute' more and still meet its current Paris agreement goals.

Other rich countries that are signatories will meet their targets by buying carbon credits from poorer countries. Such schemes are heavily rorted.

Given that the four biggest anthropogenic emitters of CO2 (currently comprising about 65% of emissions and will grow to possibly 75%) will not be implementing policies to reduce their CO2 emissions, Australia's policy on climate change is completely inconsequential to the world's climate and hence our climate. Our policies should reflect this reality. We should be focused on jobs and reliable, cheap energy. Arguments attempting to link our climate change policy to increased risk of bush fires are nonsense.
 

shellyg

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Arguments attempting to link our climate change policy to increased risk of bush fires are nonsense.
Except, regardless the climate has changed and we do have increased risk of bush fires. Hence, playing out right now?

This problem can be solved almost immediately not by science because nobody's listening but by free mass basic contraception. Win win! Stop the breeding.

I hope I don't get kicked for this. Also, save the orangutans.

-Misanthrope
 

HairyO

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Except, regardless the climate has changed and we do have increased risk of bush fires. Hence, playing out right now?

This problem can be solved almost immediately not by science because nobody's listening but by free mass basic contraception. Win win! Stop the breeding.

I hope I don't get kicked for this. Also, save the orangutans.

-Misanthrope
Where is the proof of increased risk of bushfires ?

What is different this fire season to fire seasons 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 years ago ?

Population is absolutely a huge factor ignored by almost everyone.

And yes, orangutans are awesome and need to be protected.
 

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shellyg

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What if everybody follows our lead and does f*** all too, do we just let the planet burn?
I keep saying it, its too nasty to suggest a population cull and we don't need to do that but we really do need to reverse population growth. We also need to stop buying throwaway chit from China and get back to fine wool classics.
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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What if everybody follows our lead and does f*** all too, do we just let the planet burn?
Do you really think China, USA, India and Russia give a toss about 'following our lead'?

My assumption is that anthropogenic CO2 is causing dangerous warming to the planet, and that Australia's climate change policies make no difference. I understand if you want to feel like you 'are doing something'. But it's meaningless.
 

shellyg

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Do you really think China, USA, India and Russia give a toss about 'following our lead'?

My assumption is that anthropogenic CO2 is causing dangerous warming to the planet, and that Australia's climate change policies make no difference. I understand if you want to feel like you 'are doing something'. But it's meaningless.
Depressing.
 

Gough

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Do you really think China, USA, India and Russia give a toss about 'following our lead'?

My assumption is that anthropogenic CO2 is causing dangerous warming to the planet, and that Australia's climate change policies make no difference. I understand if you want to feel like you 'are doing something'. But it's meaningless.
See I'm guessing it wasn't that long ago you completely denied the existence of climate change, now you just say f*** it, it's all too hard.
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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See I'm guessing it wasn't that long ago you completely denied the existence of climate change, now you just say f*** it, it's all too hard.
This is a hypothetical based on accepting that anthropogenic CO2 is causing dangerous warming to the planet, and that our climate change policies make no difference. If you disagree, feel free to argue your point.
 

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Norm Smith Medallist
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For example, Victoria’s state Labor government will sign off on deep new emission cut targets of up to 40 per cent which is likely to put pressure on the state’s coal-fired power plants. This is being justified by 'the severity and the extent of the bushfires'. It's nonsense.

 

Messenger

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Given that the four biggest anthropogenic emitters of CO2 (currently comprising about 65% of emissions and will grow to possibly 75%) will not be implementing policies to reduce their CO2 emissions, Australia's policy on climate change is completely inconsequential to the world's climate and hence our climate. Our policies should reflect this reality. We should be focused on jobs and reliable, cheap energy. Arguments attempting to link our climate change policy to increased risk of bush fires are nonsense.
Pretty dismal thread.

This is the same cute with words straw man argument Morrison made last night.

Unfortunately we’re probably at the point worldwide where individual action is insufficient and it will take significant changes in government policy worldwide. Saul Griffith’s work on this is fairly compelling. A much better option than shrugging our shoulders and continuing with BAU.
 

Mofra

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Even the Morrison Government disagrees with the OP.


Although home to only 0.3 per cent of the world’s population, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions contribute about 1.5 per cent of the world total. Australia’s emissions per capita are the highest in the Organisation for Economic Co–operation and Development (OECD) and among the highest in the world. [45] This is largely due to Australia’s high reliance on coal for electricity production, as well as its high agricultural production per capita. The amount of carbon burned per dollar of wealth created in Australia is higher than the US and nearly double that of Europe and Japan. The average growth rate of Australia’s emissions over the last 25 years was twice that for the US and Japan, and five times that for Europe. [46]

Garnaut notes that the costs of mitigation are relatively higher when they are carried by the poor than when they are carried by the rich, because an increment of money is generally more valuable to the poor than the rich.
In summary, of all the developed countries, Australia stands to lose the most if an international agreement to reduce global emissions is not achieved. It would be difficult for Australia to justify any other position than playing its full and fair part in committing to mitigate emissions. Implementing our own domestic measures consistent with that responsibility will both facilitate the successful realisation of an effective international agreement and ease the integration of our economy and industries into a carbon–constrained world. Australia is also likely to benefit from continuing to work with regional and international partners to develop and maintain mutual capacities to anticipate and respond to the challenges posed by climate change. [50]
 

Tom Daniels

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Can someone actually answer the OP and explain what difference Australia going say for example to net zero emissions would actually do to combat climate change. This is not saying climate change is not real because it clearly is, but what is the difference that we can make?
 

Tom Daniels

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Should add, is it worth having many people lose their jobs, putting more families into financial difficulty, in order to 'send a message' that doesn't actually achieve a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, and also would likely not be effective in influencing the big emitters.
 

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Theres also the argument that if we stop exporting coal, the recipients will buy from elsewhere

but if the recipients cease buying from anywhere, that leaves us (to quote the OP) with massive job losses etc etc

things dont need to change overnight, but they will need to change.

whats not a good plan is to put all your energy and efforts into:

denying climate change is happening
denying co2 inbalance is causing it
denying humans are causing the co2 inbalance
denying that even if humans caused it, they cant fix it
denying that one human or a group of humans cant change on their own

or whatever step you think is best to deny from today.


humans spend massive amounts of money on military, because theres a percieved thread to our safety and comfort.

isnt climate change more of a threat? Has the last mont shown noting at all?

like military, it needs the world to act in some kind of agreement
 
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TheBrownDog
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Inconsequential is the wrong word. We have some capacity to make a difference and we have some capacity to influence others. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions our influence is tiny because we are a small country and the world continues to grow and industrialise so shrinking 1% of a growing pie is on the pointless side. People love 'per capita' and similar but if we do absolutely nothing our share of global emissions will likely fall over the next few years. If we go from 1% to 0.9% because total emissions went up but we stood still do we get a pat on the back? Didn't think so. But that's small thinking. Norway is a small country of 5m people and has a wealth fund worth over $1 trillion. They would've been wealthy enough just selling oil but thought outside the box...

Anyway, Australia's policy on climate change is nonsensical. The PM and a bunch of govt ministers (I don't know how many climate change deniers there are in the ALP) don't believe in it. Politics at its worst. What kind of govt has a policy in place to address an issue they don't think exists in the first place? We're not talking free market vs regulation, unions vs business etc. here. The whole reason we have a policy at all is that not having one would lose more votes. The whole reason we have a 26-28% target is because less would lose votes and more would cost money. Where is the evidence that a 26-28% reduction (or 40% which I believe was the ALP election target) will actually achieve anything? The govt and opposition both believe that we can reduce emissions going forward while opening new coal mines at the same time. I mean you can, but that's spectacularly short sighted. WA still has a couple of coal fired power stations, two that are fairly new and modern, one that was built in the 50s and is barely hanging on. There are no moves to build replacements because it's dead tech. New power comes from natural gas (cleaner, but still a fossil fuel) and renewables. Having aging fossil fuel assets is actually a blessing of sorts.

I fear that Australia will end up left behind. How bad coal is for the environment will be irrelevant when China figures out how to generate their own renewable energy cheaper than buying coal from us. When we had a car industry we were always years behind what everyone else in the developed world was doing. The 'future' of the car industry was to invest millions to produce an average small car that was already produced all over the world. Yep, real forward thinking there. Give it another 5 or 10 years and someone will suggest that Australia should look at making electric cars. Just once I would like to see us thinking ahead of the game.
 

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