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Global warning

Time to put net zero on ice

7 May 2022

9:00 AM

7 May 2022

9:00 AM

I arrive in Sydney only to rush to the Sky News studio to be interviewed on the Outsiders show. After years of following Rowan Dean, Rita Panahi and James Morrow on YouTube I am meeting the brilliant team in person at last. The interview goes well. The main story news outlets are reporting is about my warning about Putin’s useful idiots in Europe and elsewhere who are trying to stop domestic energy extraction. I am staying in wonderful Rose Bay. It’s election time but I notice that the lamp posts in Wentworth are full of posters from one candidate only – Allegra Spender. I am told that she represents a blue-green or ‘teal’ movement. It was set up and is heavily funded by renewable energy investors who are hoping to make a killing from their political investment. They must have been inspired by European subsidy sharks who have adopted similar funding models for years and very successfully.

On my first day in Sydney I join a walk around Watsons Bay where we meet campaigners for this turquoise party. We stop to talk to them and I’m trying to figure out what they’re all about. Why shouldn’t people vote for the Green Party, I ask, given that they look like, talk like and walk like greens? A campaigner explains that they are Liberals and not lefties. But isn’t the Liberal MP a green Net Zero supporter himself, I ask? Not Net Zero enough, I’m told. It will be interesting to see how this plot to undermine eco-liberal MPs will pan out. We are meeting Alan Jones at his apartment-come-office overlooking Sydney Opera House. He discusses his dumping from his prime-time programme. Alan predicts that Piers Morgan, his replacement, won’t ever get the viewing figures that he will generate on his new streaming show that is launching this week. He is convinced that the Liberal party will lose the election. In contrast, most people I ask about it remain hesitant and undecided.

The next day, my hosts’s son and I take the ferry to Manly and arrive just in time for the Anzac Day service at the War Memorial on the Corso. The ceremony is very moving. My dad, who was a Royal Engineer in the 8th Army fighting in North Africa, would have loved it. Another ferry takes us to Circular Quay. The pubs are packed. There is yelling and screaming and I am trying to understand what’s going on. Large crowds of people watch and cheer as coins are thrown in the air and my host explains the rules of Two-up, the coin flipping gambling game that is only played on Anzac Day. In the evening the Roseville branch of the Liberal party has organised a dinner and speaking event with Ian Plimer and myself, moderated by Rowan Dean. I am told they are actual Conservatives notorious for inviting speakers who hold unfashionable views and speak their mind. I’m surprised this has not been banned yet. Ian Plimer speaks about his new book, Green Murder, while I am warning about the European war, the Net Zero cost crisis and what happens when utopian policies and wishful thinking make contact with reality.

In Brisbane Graham Young and the Australian Institute for Progress have organised a couple of speaking events where I meet entrepreneurs and executives extremely concerned about the rising cost of energy and the impact on the economy. I wake up to the news that the Nationals senator Matt Canavan has declared Net Zero ‘dead’ and admire his nerve to stick his head above the parapet. He is certainly right that European governments and even the Biden administration are beginning to prioritise energy cost and national security over the Net Zero agenda. Many countries are planning to burn more coal and extend the life of coal-fired power plants. In fact, there is a global coal boom. European coal power plants which had been decommissioned are now considered for re-opening. The coal boom is expected to continue for years to come. Mr Canavan has simply stated the obvious.

I’m trying to get my head around Australia’s voting system. I ask people how the preferential voting system actually works, but receive contrasting answers. I start to wonder how the Liberal/National party could ever obtain an absolute majority. At a meeting in his office, Malcolm Roberts, the One Nation Senator, explains that what he calls freedom parties on the right habitually give their preferences to the Liberals. Not comprehensively this time, it would appear. Hours after the meeting I hear on the news that his party is preferencing some Labor candidates.

In Melbourne, Speccie columnist Alan Moran, and his fellow directors of the Australian Environment Foundation, have invited me to give this year’s Bob Carter Memorial Lecture. The late Bob Carter (who died in 2016) was a good friend and one of Australia’s most eminent palaeontologist/marine geologists. He was deeply involved in the climate science debate for nearly 20 years and was the first victim of James Cook University’s notorious cancel culture which cancelled him because his scientific research findings violated their dogmatic stance and entrenched views. Just before the lecture I am interviewed by Sky News presenter Peta Credlin. Most Australians, I tell her, are clearly unaware of the disastrous energy crisis and energy cost crisis in Europe. Energy bills in the UK have nearly doubled in the last 12 months and are threatening to triple by the end of the year. It is estimated that a quarter of UK households won’t be able to pay their energy bills in December. We are facing the worst energy crisis since World War II. This is likely to get much worse as the war in Ukraine intensifies. Aussies would be well advised not to follow our disastrous path. Australia has some insulation from this peril because it is blessed with enormous fossil fuel resources that are buffering the economy. Policy makers face punishment if they tried too quickly to shut them down. But Australians, notwithstanding their subterranean wealth, have only a few years respite unless they learn the harsh lessons of Europe’s Net Zero fiasco.

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Benny Peiser is head of the Global Warming Policy Foundation

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