Sunday 26 September 2021

Bits and Pieces: The Big Apple.

It’s often said that “if you can make it there, you’re gonna make it anywhere” and Scotty from Marketing is virtually there, baby, New York City. And he is trying to make it there, but equivocating here.

Often forgotten, however, is that old advice – “fake it, till you make it”. That seems to have worked a treat for Scotty when dealing with Nancy Pelosi, the US House Speaker. The 81-yo Pelosi, impressed by his “meeting and beating” climate targets bullshit, said that Australia is “leading the way” on climate change action.


That’s how Australia will save the world, Nancy: leading from the rear.


The good folks from The Washington Post, one of the leading American progressive mastheads, know better. Theirs isn’t a half bad account, actually. They spoke with sundry Aussie pollies and are aware of Morrison’s infamous episode:


In fact, they even included a picture of Pelosi and Morrison side by side in Washington. Funny, though, there is no reference whatsoever to Pelosi’s epic blunder.


Maybe the problem with the US is that it has become a gerontocracy: people in high office are well past their cognitive “use by date”. You see, Pelosi is 3 years older than Biden.

Or maybe the problem is that not many Yanks are really aware that there is a whole world beyond their borders and couldn’t tell Austria from Australia if their lives depended on it.

Or maybe that’s because of all the rhetoric of Australia and the USA being “forever friends”. In our age of tribalism that translates, for Pelosi, as “Morrison is just a funny-sounding version of Biden”. For the WaPo journos it may mean “not a peep against our guys and gals, no matter how wrong”.


Anyway, Katharine Murphy, from The Guardian (Oz) – like the WaPo crowd – seemed to be expecting some Morrison action on the matter of climate change … action before COP26. Apparently, her qualified optimism is based on this.

Let’s hope she’s right. There’s certainly some slightly encouraging noise coming from the Liberal Party (the largest COALition partner), most noticeably from federal Treasurer Josh Fraudenberg. It may not amount to much, however. Back in 2017 (yes, around the same time of Morrison’s “lump of coal” comedic stunt) Fraudenberg, then federal Environment Minister, flip-flopped on climate change action, as soon as COALition backbenchers manifested their displeasure.

Shame is not this mob’s strong suit.


Acting PM Barnaby “Chinless Wonder” Joyce (federal leader of the National Party, junior COALition partner) sounds less than impressed with any talk of climate change action. But one has to give him credit for at least not frothing at the mouth, as usual in him when the subject is broached.


Matt Canavan, Joyce’s fellow National from Queensland, already declared himself “deadset against net zero emissions”. In Yogi Berra’s memorable words, it sounds like déjà vu all over again, yes?

On the other hand, Darren Chester, the National “moderate” from Victoria, while pledging his undying support for Morrison – in his would-be climate change action warrior incarnation – is “taking a break from the party” (whatever that means). It sounds to me like he’s ducking for cover to avoid a confrontation with the radicals.


What to make of all this?

Hard to say. Assuming the brouhaha is genuine and people honestly state their true stances, however repulsive, there’s a good chance Morrison will fold in the end. While that may embarrass Morrison’s new “forever friends” in the US and UK, they could still learn to live with that, given the climate of anti-Chinese hysteria. It’s not like they really care about climate change, anyway.

As it happens, I suspect there may be more than a little political theatre going on. Canavan and the rest of the National “radical” rabble may be prepared to surrender at the eleventh hour, just as they promise to fight to the death for their right to destroy civilisation.

But that isn’t necessarily good news for climate change action, for at least two reasons.

First because, after AR6, the goal of keeping global warming below 2ºC and preferably under 1.5ºC seems to require net zero emissions before – neither by nor a little after – 2050. If anything, that by itself requires greater efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. China’s stated commitment to net zero by 2060 – which, however dubious, is probably more trustworthy than anything Morrison’s Australia can put forward – only makes that need more pressing.

Second because federal Minister for Trade Dan Tehan’s little remarked upon upcoming travel to Indonesia, India, the United Arab Emirates and Europe seems little more than a barely disguised attempt to further Australia’s desire to freeload on the world’s efforts to reduce emissions. Beyond his self-professed almost religious faith in the inherent goodness of free trade – the “principles” he talks about, or ideological mumbo jumbo, if I am allowed the bluntness – the Australian opposition to what Tehan calls “protectionism in disguise” is nothing more than an attempt to exempt Australian exports from the European Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, while inoculating them against their eventual extension to other geographic areas.

If you ask me, Morrison’s Australia is positioning itself to let its international competitors to add a carbon price to their products, without a corresponding cost for Australian goods and services.


I hope to be mistaken; if I am not it would still remain to be seen whether Australia’s competitors are fooled by that. Thanks to Morrison’s ineptitude, by now the French must be forewarned. 

The thing is that Pelosi’s gullibility is less than reassuring.

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