Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a notorious climate change denier. So is his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper.
But this is not their official position. In the face of rising global pressure for action to address catastrophic climate change, the official line of these two leaders is to “address” climate change, but not in a way that “clobbers the economy”, to use Abbott's latest three-word phrase.
But Abbott and Harper are lying. Both lead governments that are implementing policies that worsen dangerous climate change. They are trying to scuttle the limited regulations that do exist and have defunded programs to study, understand and educate the public about the climate emergency.
Now they are trying to forge an alliance of climate rogue states to resist any attempts at global regulation of carbon dioxide emissions.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said last year that climate change was “the moral challenge of our generation” that threatens to “rob our children of their future”. He has called for an international summit in September where leaders of all governments can put forward their plans to address the climate crisis. Abbott has already said he will not be attending.
This is no surprise. After all Abbott thinks the extreme weather events and mega bushfires of Australia's warmest year on record last year were because “Australia has had fires and floods since the beginning of time.”
He said: “We've had much bigger floods and fires than the ones we've recently experienced. You can hardly say they were the result of anthropic [sic] global warming.”
Harper, on the other hand, said the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emission targets was a "socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations".
Abbott's top business adviser, Maurice Newman, accused the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of “dishonesty and deceit” in “exploiting the masses and extracting more money” in a climate crusade.
Actually, the reality is that despite any pretence to take the climate crisis seriously, capitalism will “rob our children of their future” by driving the world to catastrophic climate change. This presents us with no alternative but to break from the capitalist system.
And the proof of this is plain to see on the listed assets of fossil fuel companies. A recent study by the Climate Institute revealed that “the total amount of potential coal listed on the ASX is approximately 115 times Australia’s annual CO2 emissions”.
On a global scale, reports the Carbon Initiative's studies, “governments and global markets are currently treating as assets, reserves equivalent to nearly 5 times the carbon budget for the next 40 years”. These companies promise their shareholders and prospective shareholders that they will completely blow the greenhouse gas emission budget.
Abbott and Harper may live in an alternate universe called “Canadia”, to quote Abbott, where the climate change crisis can be ignored. But if the rest of the world follows their lead, it will go to hell.
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