Tactics Against Bipartisan Climate Change Policy in Australia – Limits to Growth?

A recent ABC article ‘The day that plunged Australia’s climate change policy into 10 years of inertia‘, endeavoured to describe how climate change consensus was broken by former Liberal MP Andrew Robb who claimed he had followed the ‘Limits to Growth’ (LTG) theory via the Club of Rome but changed his mind, hence withdrew support on bipartisan support on carbon emission measures (?).

And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.

Also reported in climate science denial blog in the USA Watts Up With That with post titled ‘How “The Limits to Growth” Broke Australia’s Bipartisan Carbon Tax’, as did Catallaxy Files in ‘Australia Follow the climate money and the time when Tony beat Malcolm by one vote’ which also promotes climate science denialism.

In fact the LTG theory, ‘a riddle wrapped up in an enigma’, is irrelevant to climate change as it was developed as a PR construct of liberal and environment ideas or theory then (misre)presented publicly as grounded and tested empirical science to confuse debates, then both opponents and protagonists.

The pseudo-science of LTG was developed and presented via the Club of Rome and applied by some of the participants and collaborators including Herman Daly’s ‘Steady-state economy’ (autarkist economy), Paul Ehrlich’s ‘population bomb’ and his Zero Population Growth (ZPG) colleague John ‘passive eugenics’ Tanton to support immigration restrictions for non-Europeans.

Interesting was that the Club of Rome was hosted on the Rockefeller (Standard Oil/Exxon) estate and sponsored by Fiat and VW, while ZPG had support from Rockefeller Brothers, Ford and Carnegie Foundations; strong whiff of fossil fuels, global corporates/oligarchs and eugenics.

LTG helped encourage a pincer movement of seemingly unrelated ideas or constraints which in fact protect the corporate and personal interests of such global players.  Daly’s autarkist Steady-state theory stresses nation states, avoidance of trade agreements (and environmental regulations) etc. while allowing long standing global corporates (with existing footprints) to operate without commercial, competitive or regulatory constraint (James Buchanan’s radical right libertarianism for all, i.e. ‘Public Choice Theory‘, except when there is state support for global corporates).

From University of Sussex on Limits to Growth or ‘Models of Doom‘:

‘An interdisciplinary team at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit reviewed the structure and assumptions of the models used and published its finding in Models of Doom; showing that the forecasts of the world’s future are very sensitive to a few unduly pessimistic key assumptions. The Sussex scientists also claim that the Meadows et al. methods, data, and predictions are faulty, that their world models (and their Malthusian bias) do not accurately reflect reality.’

How could they promote not just junk science but inequitable libertarian economics to the masses for the benefit of the few and have ‘Turkeys vote for Christmas’?

Brexit is a good example, Trump also and Australia since Tampa refugee incident, i.e. dog whistling immigration, population growth, and white nationalism, then encourages borders, withdrawal from trade agreements and insular view of the world, while allowing global corporates to fly under the radar and conservative political parties to gain votes (especially amongst the upper median age cohort) to implement the right policies (or not at all).

 

The day that plunged Australia’s climate policy into 10 years of inertia

BY ANNABEL CRABBUPDATED SUN AT 1:28PM

Ten years ago Andrew Robb arrived at Parliament House intent upon an act of treachery.

No-one was expecting him. Robb was formally on leave from the Parliament undergoing treatment for his severe depression.

But the plan the Liberal MP nursed to himself that morning would not only bring about the political demise of his leader, Malcolm Turnbull, but blow apart Australia’s two great parties irrevocably just as they teetered toward consensus on climate change, the most divisive issue of the Australian political century.

They have never again been so close.

A decade later, according to the ABC’s Australia Talks National Survey, climate change is a matter of urgent community concern. Eighty-four per cent of respondents said that climate change was real and that action was warranted. When offered a range of 19 issues and asked which were of gravest personal concern, climate change ranked at number one.

As bushfires ravage the landscape and drought once again strangles vast tracts of the continent, the inability of the Australian Parliament to reach agreement on how to answer the threat of climate change — or even discuss it rationally — may well be one of the drivers of another shrieking headline from the Australia Talks research: 84 per cent of respondents also feel that Australian politicians are out of touch with the views of the people they represent.

This is the story — told on its 10th birthday — of a political event that changed the course of a nation’s history.

How bipartisan policy fell apart

Robb was on sick leave from his job as shadow minister for climate, managing the notoriously difficult transition from one anti-depressant medication to another.

In his absence, acting shadow minister for climate Ian Macfarlane had successfully negotiated, with the authority of Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, a deal with the Rudd government to land the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, or CPRS.

An extraordinary tactic

And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.

Parliament House is no stranger to mental illness. Historically, its sufferers have covered their tracks, loath to be seen as vulnerable.

But this must be the only recorded occasion on which mental illness has been used as a tactic.

Robb ripped himself a scrap of paper and scrawled a note to Turnbull.

“The side effects of the medication I am on now make me very tired. I’d be really grateful if you could get me to my feet soon,” he wrote.

Turnbull called Robb to speak soon after. He rose, and denounced the proposed scheme in forensic detail, his words carrying significant weight as the erstwhile bearer of the relevant portfolio.

The deal never recovered. The meeting went on for six more hours. Turnbull — a streetfighter when cornered — added the numbers of shadow Cabinet votes to the “yes” votes in the party room and declared that he had a majority.

Leadership contest

The party room wasn’t buying it. Turnbull was cooked.

One week and one day later — December 1, 2009 — a ballot was held for the leadership of the Liberal Party.

Tony Abbott — who nominated against both Turnbull and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey — won by a single vote.

The Abbott opposition was born, with its strident campaign against Labor’s “great big new tax on everything”.

The next day, the emissions trading scheme legislation went to a vote in the Parliament and was defeated soundly.

Both the Coalition and the Greens voted against.

The Rudd government relinquished its attempts to put a price on carbon. Rudd himself was overthrown mid-2010. Julia Gillard staked her political life on installing a carbon price, but lost it at the 2013 election in the face of Abbott’s muscular anti-carbon-tax campaign.

Abbott installed his “Direct Action” model which survives to this day, despite Turnbull’s subsequent prime ministership, during which he tried and failed to introduce the National Energy Guarantee, a legislative device aimed at establishing reliable supply and reduced emissions from the energy sector….

….’You can still see the scars’

For Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, the past 10 years are a tale of intense frustration.

“What happened back then has just so fundamentally shaped the direction and the context for climate and energy policy ever since,” he says…..

…..Visiting Sydney this week, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, British-born Michael Liebreich, was brutal in his assessment of Australia’s contemporary energy situation.

“It’s unbelievable how you can have a country with such cheap solar power, such cheap wind power, frankly such cheap natural gas and yet you still have expensive power and an unreliable grid,” he told ABC’s AM.

“I mean, how do you do that? It’s a government failure.”

Turnbull, in an interview published on Saturday by The Guardian, said the climate debate in Parliament was hostage to “insurgents” inside the Coalition.

“There are plenty of odd beliefs out there and conspiracy theories but what I have always struggled to understand is why climate denialism still has the currency that it has, particularly given the evidence of the impact of climate change is now so apparent, and it is particularly apparent to people living in regional and rural Australia,” he said.

“Precisely what has been forecast is happening.”…..

…..Robb admits that his was an extraordinary intervention in a sliding-doors juncture of Australian political history.

“I’ve seen so often in my career where something monumental gets down to one vote. Then when the vote’s taken, it sticks, and the world adjusts. It was the beginning of Tony — who won by one vote. Democracy’s an amazing thing, really. And it does show you that if you’ve got half of the votes or just over half or just under, that can reflect community attitudes too,” he says.

“This is not a fault of democracy, it’s a fact.”

He mentions that when he was a much younger man, he was “a great student” of the Club of Rome, an association of scientists, bureaucrats, politicians and public thinkers who in 1972 published the book Limits To Growth, warning that the world’s resources could not withstand the depredations of ceaseless economic growth indefinitely.

Limits To Growth is still the highest-selling environmental book in the history of the world, having sold 30 million copies in more than 30 languages.

But Robb’s early fascination with the work gave way to distrust of its conclusions and primitive computer modelling; he says its warnings of resource exhaustion and economic collapse towards the end of the 20th century were overstated.

“The thing they didn’t talk about was technology. That you could find gas 300 kilometres offshore, for example, and find a way to bring it onshore. Because of this, the Club of Rome — which was quite a reputable group of people — looked more and more ridiculous as the years rolled on.”

The Club of Rome has its critics and its defenders; Limits To Growth was commonly derided by the 1990s as a misguided Doomsday scenario, but has enjoyed something of a renaissance lately. The CSIRO published a paper in 2008 finding that the book’s 30-year modelling of consequences from a “business as usual” approach to economic growth was essentially sound.

But what’s not deniable is that this work influenced one young man who grew up to be one member of a parliamentary party with a singular role to play in one vote on a policy that would either change or not change the course of a country.

Democracy, he says, is an amazing thing.

Or an infuriating thing. Or mysterious. Or random.’

 

For more articles and blog posts about population growth, immigration and white nationalism click through.