Features Australia

Climate Council crestfallen

22 June 2019

9:00 AM

22 June 2019

9:00 AM

Australia’s media will shortly run the following ‘climate crisis’ stories: London’s black cabs are going electric; UK offshore turbines are a howling success; and a coal town in Germany’s Ruhr is loving renewables.

How do I know? Because Tim Flannery’s Climate Council is junketing the love media to Europe to spoon-feed them these tales. CEO Amanda McKenzie says her work’s ‘decoding [misinformation] for journalists, making sure journalists are asking the right questions etc.’.

Last year the Council took two troupes including the SMH, ABC, Guardian, and Women’s Weekly to snorkel artfully-selected patches of the Barrier Reef ‘to see the bleaching first hand’. The reef’s 2,300km long, so the snorkeled sampling wasn’t extensive. The hacks obliged with oodles of ‘high profile’ reports and Council-supplied TV clips, to the fury of reef tour operators. Now on a $3-4m budget, the Council’s generated $100-plus million worth of media, it says, ‘reaching a cumulative audience of 448 million’.

Nine days pre-election, it tried a super-scare with its ersatz ‘peer reviewed’ report that Coalition climate inertia would chop property values by $571 billion by 2030. Voters yawned. McKenzie wrote that the election’s only ‘silver lining [was] seeing one of the biggest deniers, Tony Abbott, swept away’. She spent ‘sleepless nights’ revising strategy, she told a web seminar last month. She concedes people are jaded from decades of claims about 5-10 years to save the planet: ‘These dates are sometimes unhelpful.’

The Council’s Adani-or-the-Reef pretense also backfired. She’s considering an Albo-style ‘listening tour’ of North Queensland to discover why tradies put jobs before climate virtue. She’ll flog them her ‘just transition’ renewables line and ‘nut out how it could hopefully be made bi-partisan’.

She fears her burnt-out activists might vacate the field, as they did after the Climategate-stricken talks ‘fell apart’ in Copenhagen 2009, where she led our youth delegates. Those pesky sceptics might again ramp up to ‘full throttle’ notwithstanding her other claim that five years’ relentless Council work had ‘killed off the influence of climate denialism’.

Why the election loss? Her $4m Council was underdog in the climate wars, she believes. Clive Palmer’s $60m spending was more than the annual revenue of the whole climate movement, she says.

McKenzie’s warmy hypotheses are backed only by federal and every State government, Labor, unions, the Greens, top companies from BHP-Billiton, Woodside and Qantas down (Council director Gerry Hueston also sits on the Business Council), the billions-subsidised renewables, universities and education systems, the ABC, Nine media, arts/entertainment and its funders, doctors’ wives (make that ‘spouses’)… anyone I’ve missed?

The Council masquerades as a body refuting sceptic lies, ‘a voice for evidence-based and science-backed reason’. It introduced the scientific term ‘Angry Summer’ for recent summer heat. Maybe it will appease the angry summer gods by throwing virgins into the nearest volcano.

I thought science was not about inciting brainwashed kids as cannon–fodder in climate wars. The truants are ‘amazing’ and a ‘wake up call to adults,’ says McKenzie, who shot to fame as (adult) co-founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. The GetUp!-allied AYCC has acknowledged its current school-strike role. McKenzie now discloses the Council’s role too: ‘I know Dinah [Dinah Arndt, Council flak] and some of her team worked with some of the school strikers to help refine their message and make sure they can get out there in the press too.’ I’d queried at the time which agency was penning the kids’ fake-teenager media releases.

McKenzie would even like Greta Thunberg, the mercilessly-exploited unwell Swedish 16-year old, to Skype her apocalyptic ravings to gullibles here: ‘She’s an amazing communicator and absolutely fantastic… incredibly eloquent.’Asked online if the Council would ape the Guardian’s loons and tout a ‘climate emergency’, McKenzie prefers for PR reasons to use the less-inflammatory ‘climate crisis’. This ‘crisis’ is belied by global Hadcrut4 temperatures rising only 0.0156degC a year since January 2000 including natural el Ninos. That’s a mere 1.56degC rate per century.

Talking more ‘science’, she claims to have convinced Australians that big droughts, storms and bushfires are CO2-inspired.

US authority Roger J. Pielke Jr. found no statistical connection between climate change and extreme-weather related damages, after adjusting for population and wealth. Globally there’s still no clear trends in extremes, up or down, he’s found. A Royal Society paper last year concluded that global areas burned are both declining and are less than centuries ago.

Councillor Lesley Hughes (Macquarie pro-vice chancellor) admitted to a Blue Mountains firefighter audience in February that for burnt area, ‘Australian fire datasets [are] generally too short to detect convincing trends’ but she ramped up the climate scare anyway.

Meanwhile, cities and shires have become the Council’s ‘centre stage’ now that voters reject emissions catastrophism. The Council’s project director Alix Pearce tells her ‘local heroes’ in deep-purple prose, ‘In the face of this seemingly impending doom, new leaders are emerging to meet the climate challenge.’ The Council’s got one hundred local bodies to literally sign a climate pledge, with at least two thousand accolades suctioned from the media. The numbers go wild: McKenzie in her ‘The Facts’ webinar claimed the councils represented ‘over 7 million’ people; the Council brief says ‘almost 11 million’.

The shire pledges include not just installing renewables but advocating for large-scale wind and solar farms, and ‘pushing for climate action’ by governments. Specifically, ‘Lobby for state and federal support for a just transition away from coal-driven industry for local workers and the community’. Some 25 councils have pledged to run ‘education and behaviour change programs to positively influence the behavior of council officers, residents and businesses.’

For not signing her pledge I’ve dobbed in my Moonee Valley Council and its large ‘sustainability’ team (my rates since 2014 are up from $2,358 to $2,608). Alix will hassle MVCC ‘in our next round of intake’, her underling emails me. I’ll pack a small suitcase for re-education camp to become an MVCC ‘Sustainability Champion and Environmental Superhero’.

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