Lenore Taylor in the Weekend AFR reported that Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull had taken a submission to cabinet suggesting that Australia ratify the Kyoto Protocol immediately.
Government sources have told the Weekend AFR that Mr Turnbull argued the government would gain kudos and lose nothing by ratifying the international climate change agreement.
But cabinet decided such a backflip would not look credible to voters given the vehemence with which Prime Minister Howard had argued against Kyoto for a decade, even though it was looking for ways to redefine the coalition’s image in the electorate.
It is understood that Mr Turnbull was not the sole voice for ratification at the meeting, held about six weeks ago, but that a clear majority of cabinet did not think changing the government’s stance was a viable political position to take.
Turnbull is not denying the story, so it’s probably true.
Howard is taking a similar line, saying he doesn’t comment on cabinet discussions.
Taylor got an interesting comment from Turnbull on 2050 targets.
“The general consensus is that we need to cut emissions in the order of 50 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050, that’s what the science suggests,” he said.
“Australia’s commitment is going to be something in that order there and it may in fact be higher than 50 per cent. (Emphasis added)
” My objection to Labor’s target of a 50 per cent cut in emissions is not that they have picked 50 per cent. It is that that they have picked it without any idea of the cost and they are going to meet it regardless of what the rest of the world does – that is really selling Australia short.”
This raises the question as to whether there would be more than a struck match between the two majors after the old fella departs the scene. A few short days ago Turnbull was downplaying nuclear.
The Climate Institute has an Election Report Card Online for the political parties where the coalition gets 23% to the Labor’s 40%. (The Greens get 90% and the Democrats 83%.) According to the detailed report card if the Coalition ratified Kyoto the difference in the scores would largely disappear.
The Institute’s Pollutometer shows that under Coalition policies, in 2020, greenhouse pollution would increase by 20.8%, or 114 Mt CO2e, on 1990 levels, whereas under Labor the increase would be 18.5%.
The top three most effective reduction policies by 2020 are energy efficiency standards for appliances (ALP), which reduce emissions by more than 11 million tonnes CO2e per year, phasing out electric hot water systems (ALP) which reduces emissions by almost 5 million tonnes CO2e per year and phasing out incandescent light bulbs (Coalition) which reduces emissions by 4 million tonnes CO2e per year.
Hardly inspires confidence! Pathetic, in fact. Meanwhile Lenore Taylor thinks Cabinet made the wrong decision politically in rolling Turnbull. I tend to agree.
In both cases there is no certainty as to who will have the carriage of policy. Garrett may not be environment minister. Turnbull is ambitious and will almost certainly look for a different portfolio under Costello. While we can be reasonably confident of continuity of policy under Labor since they have had a very similar policy stance since March 2005 when a comprehensive set of policies was announced by Beazley. With the Coalition, much depends on who carriage and what emphasis Costello gives the issue. There are well-known climate sceptics on the Coalition front bench.