Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Howard's global warming swindel

It strange how there is fits and spurts of attention on global warming in the media. To me, it's unfortunate that such a crappy and clearly disingenuous documentary on the ABC got so much media attention, when there have been far more interesting – and accurate – things being revealed. Like how the Howard government's policy and approach to global warming is effectively written by the biggest carbon polluters in Australia.

Dr Guy Pearse, a Liberal party insider, has recently published a book, High & Dry, on how the Howard government's position on climate change has been influenced at a fundamental level by major greenhouse gas polluters – who are also big contributors to the Coalition parties.

I haven't been able to get my hands on the book, but
Pearse basically put in print what he said in an interview with ABC's Four Corners in February last year:
In my experience there’s no question that this access that the fossil fuel industry has enjoyed and their influence over greenhouse policy in Australia is extraordinary. They really have had the keys to the greenhouse policy car and the reason I’m speaking out is because I just don’t believe that’s in the national interest and I think people have a right to know that.
Crikey's Irfan Yusuf has covered the issue of the book's publication, its claims and the government's response well.

But this is not the first, or only, or most compelling book on how Australia's climate change policy is so compromised by the
relationship between the fossil fuel industry and the Howard government. Clive Hamilton, who has a long track record of exposing the dirt on this issue, had also recently published a book on this very matter. Hamilton's Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change is described by his publishers Black Inc. this way:
In Scorcher, Clive Hamilton reveals a shadow world of lobbyists and sceptics, spin and hidden agendas. He investigates a deceitful government and a compliant media. And he lays out the facts about Kyoto, carbon emissions and what governments and individuals might do, and have done.
Of course, Hamilton himself draws on Pearse's insider information and research into this issue for his own work on what he calls the
greenhouse mafia. All the same, here we have two books on how the government' approach to dealing with global warming and how our country should best tackle reducing greenhouse gas emissions is being driven by those with the most to lose from mandatory reductions to emissions.

So, why wasn't there significant media attention on this issue?

And why hasn't there been the media scrutiny of Howard's lame-arse carbon trading scheme, which he announced yesterday? The main criticism of it seems to be that it lacks a cap on emissions. It's all hoopla over emissions trading, but sets no targets for cutting emissions – the thing that scientists, analysts and environmental groups agree is most required to slow, let alone stop, global warming!

(Interestingly, the ABC News online has just reported on Pearse's criticisms of Howard's emissions trading scheme. It's worth a look.)

We'll have to wait and see if this scheme will get the same level of reporting and debate as that crappy doco.

[The photo of coal power plant in China is by Tobixen, used under GNU Free Documentation License]

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