As well as nation-states, an astonishing well-funded 2,330 NGOs, many with multiple delegates, fronted up to this month’s Madrid climate conference. The macabre festival was re-located from Santiago because the Chilean populace had risen in revolt about the higher prices foisted upon them by its government following the green gods just as faithfully as the virtue signalling textbook says they must.
The objective of the successive biennial UN climate change Conference of Parties is to replace the messy cacophony of market capitalism by one that operates under the guidance of the intellectual aristocracy. The all-pervasive carbon dioxide and other gases that have been increased with the march of higher global living standards offer the catalyst for this power transfer. For, even though the evidence continues to elude us that higher emissions of these harmless gases is bringing significant, let alone catastrophic, global temperature increases/climate change, those favouring the transfer of power include alarmists, lobbyist and bien pensants guilt-ridden at the success of the West. They have marched through the institutions and assembled signatures of people, real and imagined, in support of zero emissions. They have persuaded mainstream media and politics that their prescriptions would not de-rate developed world economies and retard the growth of others.
Marxist UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, is the current titular head of the climate clerisy. He was disappointed that the Madrid conference failed to agree on further damaging measures, even though attendees like Greta Thunberg and Harrison Ford urged national representatives to do so. The Climate Action Network declared, “many countries — fronted by the United States, Australia and Brazil — once again exposed their apathy to the suffering of millions and a willful rejection of the science”. Alarmists used Kenyan climate campaigner Mohamad Adow to proclaim the Madrid outcome as “disastrous, profoundly distressing”.
Regrettably, however, only the US has disavowed its previous commitments. And in doing so, President Trump excuses his actions, not on the farcical falsity of the need for emission reductions, but on the claim that the US is being forced to carry an excessive burden.
Australia too is maintaining it is a fully paid-up member of the Festival of Light, yet gets a bum rap from the activists. This is in spite of the treasure poured into the cause as a result of banning land clearing (something the Canadians, Indians, Indonesians, Chinese and others utterly reject).
Moreover, Australia’s has assumed a “leadership” role in implementing energy price-boosting policies involving subsidies to bring about the replacement of low-cost dependable fossil fuel energy by high-cost intermittent renewables. Australia’s investment in “clean energy” is double that of our nearest kamikaze rival, Japan, and dwarfs that of the leading virtue signallers in the EU.
Similarly, heavily subsidised rooftop solar is far more prevalent in Australia than in other countries.
That high rooftop solar installation rate is not due to some advantage Australian has in solar radiance — in areas of high population, Australia is not especially rich in sunlight.
At Madrid, there was no requirement on most countries to increase their commitments in 2020. Rupert Darwall writes, “The Madrid conference was to have engendered … a kind of competition of climate virtuousness. All it could manage was a statement expressing ‘serious concern’ about the widening gap between the participating parties’ collective efforts and the ambitious emissions trajectory required to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.”
But triumphalism at the failure of this conference is misplaced, as was the case with disappointments with Copenhagen in 2009, at which the mystic Kevin Rudd hoped to star, and even Paris in 2015. Green power lobbyist Michael Liebreich is correct when he says that in spite of setbacks “over the past three years, the Paris targets have been progressively suppressing activity more deeply embedded into the political, social and business landscape in nations around the world.”
We can see that in the corporate ethical movement, with Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse the latest banks to say they will no longer finance coal developments. And, ominously, we see it in the EU Green Deal with its proposals to place a carbon tax related import duty on goods from less enthusiastic implementers of their ideologically-driven policies.
Alan Moran is with Regulation Economics.
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