Wednesday 1st of December 2021

screaming and kicking...

screamingscreaming

Say what you like about Matt Canavan. At least he’s consistent.

That is, unlike his boss, the Prime Minister, News Corporation, and the Business Council of Australia.

We should be grateful they have finally seen the light, but it’s hard not to go into the back yard and shout at the Moon over their destructive, cynical, stupid, decades of intransigence.

 

The question now is whether the sudden enthusiasm for deep emission cuts from the Murdoch newspapers and the BCA will give Scott Morrison enough cover to come up with a proper climate change policy, as opposed to a non-policy.

A non-policy would be an announcement that Australia is already on track for a 40 per cent reduction by 2030 and will easily make net zero by 2050, thanks to technology, plus the actions of the states and Australian businesses, for which the Prime Minister will take full credit. Ta da!

Oh, and to compensate for these non-efforts, $250 billion will be handed to the National Party to spend in Queensland and New South Wales so a few of them don’t cross the floor and blow up the Morrison majority of one.

Alternatively, and more optimistically, maybe Scott Morrison really did ask Rupert Murdoch for help when he was in New York, and he’ll use that help – already evident – to announce something that would mean Australia won’t be laughed at in Glasgow.

A proper national climate change policy would be legislation that reduces the baselines of large-scale emitters each year so they have to cut emissions or buy more Australian Carbon Credit Units generated by those who do cut.

Emissions trading already here

The spot price of ACCUs has already spiked to $30 a tonne with a tripling of trading volume in just three months, so emissions trading has already taken off in this country because so many companies are now trying to pacify their increasingly bolshy (on this subject) shareholders.

So much so that the Clean Energy Regulator that runs the ACCU scheme has been running a tender process looking for someone who knows how to run a big and active market. The ASX, among others, is bidding.

So Australia already has an active emissions trading scheme, and it’s getting more active every day.

 

All the government has to do to have a credible net-zero policy is to tighten it.

Coal-fired power stations have to close, which is the point, and other industrial emitters would have to either capture their carbon, use different technology or buy ACCUs for $30 a tonne, and rising.

Will the government do that? Of course not, at least not now.

But the Coalition’s pivot on climate change may have only just begun: This week’s position presented to the National Party on Sunday won’t be the last and COP26 in Glasgow won’t be the “last chance saloon” that Prince Charles called it this week.

It took John Howard three years to make the same pivot in 2006, so that he went to the 2007 election with an emissions trading scheme as policy.

But there has been 11 years of frenzied cynicism since Tony Abbott replaced Malcolm Turnbull as leader in 2009, and pro-coal, anti-renewable ideology has become deeply embedded in the Coalition.

 

Money talks

By the way, the reason for the pivot this time is the same as it was in 2006: Business pressure.

John Howard was quite open about that but it turned out to be temporary – business groups fell in behind Tony Abbott and the rest of the wreckers in the Coalition.

This time it’s come from a broad groundswell of investors, large and small, pushing the companies they own, and it is obviously permanent.

As Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in his recent speech to the Australian Industry Group, institutional investors like BlackRock, Fidelity and Vanguard are committing to net zero, and Australia relies on imported capital.

The Treasurer said: “We cannot run the risk that markets falsely assume we are not transitioning … Were we to find ourselves in that position, it would increase the cost of capital and reduce its availability…” (Gotta love that “falsely”).

The same pressure is motivating News Corporation and the members of the BCA but has not yet percolated into the sanctum of the National Party, where Blackrock, Fidelity and Vanguard are someone else’s problem.

Maybe there’s a halfway house between proper policy and non-policy.

Tristan Edis of Green Energy Markets says one idea would be to add a subsidy for household batteries to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme that subsidises rooftop solar.

Edis says that by 2025, renewable energy output in Australia will regularly exceed total power demand between noon and 3pm, so for the growth in rooftop solar to translate into emission reductions some of it needs to be stored for later. If that happened, it would cut Australia’s overall emissions a lot.

Perhaps there could also be a CO2 standard for vehicle emissions, in line with the one in the US, which would speed up the switch to electric vehicles.

Looking at the concerted “Green and Gold” splash by the News Corp tabloids on Monday pushing net zero, it’s hard to escape the feeling that Scott Morrison asked for solid covering fire to announce something big, so anything’s possible.

We can only hope.

 

 

Alan Kohler writes twice a week for The New Daily. He is also editor in chief of Eureka Report and finance presenter on ABC news

 

 

 

Read more: https://thenewdaily.com.au/finance/finance-news/2021/10/14/net-zero-murdoch-alan-kohler/

 

Pages at top from The Daily Telegraph (15/10/2021) that confuses "natural gas" with nature... Burning natural gas produces nearly as much CO2 as burning coal. So "MISSION ZERO" is zero valid...

 

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the carbon cycle...

 

Very funny cartoon from Kudelka, at The Saturday Paper:

 

cyclecycle

 

 

 

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kicking and screaming...

News Corp’s dramatic U-turn over climate policy. Critics call its Mission Zero campaign ‘greenwashing’ but we argue it is a significant shift for Australia’s largest media company.

 

 

A Media Watch special report.

 

 

Broadcast: Mon 18 Oct 2021, 8:50pm  Published: Mon 18 Oct 2021, 8:30pm Transcript 

CARRIE BICKMORE: … News Corp papers unveiled a bold new editorial position this morning, with a 16-page wraparound urging action on climate change. Yep, you heard that right.

VOICEOVER: ‘How the world’s racing to save the planet’. ‘Vic power plant worker backs change from coal’. ‘How much solar panels will save you’. ‘Getting Australia to a net zero future’.

- The Project, Ten Network, 11 October, 2021

Hello, I’m Paul Barry, welcome to Media Watch.

And News Corp calls its climate campaign the biggest editorial project in a decade. We reckon it’s an all-time media backflip. 

And tonight, we’re devoting an entire program to the dramatic U-turn, because we think Australia’s biggest media group’s position on climate change has been reckless, dishonest and damaging and has paralysed the debate for decades.

The big question will be: is it for real?

CLIMATE OF CHANGE

HOW WE CAN GO GREEN AND SAVE JOBS IN A NET-ZERO WORLD

- The Courier-Mail, 11 October, 2021

Green and GOLD

HOW AUSTRALIA COULD BE NUMBER ONE IN THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMY

- The Daily Telegraph, 11 October, 2021

It is amazing stuff and we welcome it. Pages and pages of tips and explainers about the opportunities for Australia.

But you have to marvel at the audacity of it, because this positive campaign comes after years of resistance and with a cynical refusal to accept it is a massive about-turn: 

BEN FORDHAM: Now, this sounds like a bit of a switch for News Corp. Is that fair to say?

BEN ENGLISH: Oh, not really, Ben. I think what it’s fair to say is we probably haven’t covered it to this extent ever before. And I think that, perhaps wrongly, our position on climate, on the climate issue has been characterised by the views of some of our columnists.

- Ben Fordham Live, 2GB, 11 October, 2021

But Telegraph editor Ben English should try telling that to his readers, many of whom reacted to this brave new green world by spitting out their Corn Flakes:

What happened to this paper today? I feel like I’m reading the ABC website with all these climate change stories. No thanks

- The Daily Telegraph comments, Danny Boy, 12 October, 2021

WOW DT really getting on the wacko leftie climate change bandwagon today.

- The Daily Telegraph comments, Brett, 12 October, 2021

Again a load of alarmist rubbish - is this the Herald Sun or the AGE? 

- Herald Sun comments, Peter, 12 October, 2021

And on Monday night News Corp’s loudest columnist Andrew Bolt was equally alarmed, calling the campaign:

ANDREW BOLT: … 16 pages of News Corp’s global warming propaganda ...

- The Bolt Report, Sky News Australia, 11 October, 2021

And dubbing it an extraordinary about-face:

ANDREW BOLT: Because most of these same newspapers campaigned against Kevin Rudd’s global warming policies and against Labor’s later carbon tax and against Labor’s global warming policies at the last election and also mocked global warming extremists from Rudd to Greta Thunberg. And now this?

… it's rubbish. I don’t buy it. 

- The Bolt Report, Sky News Australia, 11 October, 2021

Bolt then held up his hometown Herald Sun and picked apart the stories on reefs and Thatcher, cyclones and droughts before throwing up his hands and admitting defeat: 

ANDREW BOLT: I know I’ve lost the argument, my whole company’s against me, I know that. Against these huge players, all the big political parties, my own employer, all the media and big media outlets, what am I? I’m just someone on the sidelines. Someone just howling on the sidelines but telling you the truth.

- The Bolt Report, Sky News Australia, 11 October, 2021

Sky’s Peta Credlin — once chief of staff to the prime minister who killed the carbon tax — expressed similar outrage in The Australian, only making Morrison, not News Corp, the target, and asking:

How can something be dead wrong two years ago … but now be absolutely right?

- The Australian, 14 October, 2021

And the answer? 

Well, it was wrong two years ago. Just as it was 10 years ago. And by the end, News Corp and its columnists were almost alone in refusing to see what was right. 

So what has forced the company into this dramatic change?

Well, some of the biggest Australian advertisers — like Coles, Woolies, Wesfarmers, Toyota and the big banks — are all pushing for net-zero by 2050. And to keep them happy, News Corp needs to fall into line.

But the rest of the world is also moving on and forcing change. As ABC News reported last week:

ALICIA BARRY: Australia’s Deputy Reserve Bank Governor is warning foreign investors could start pulling money out of Australia in favour of greener alternatives.

- The Business, ABC News Channel, 14 October, 2021

And New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean made a similar point last week in launching the state’s $3 billion green hydrogen strategy, warning that global markets are already threatening the livelihood of Australia’s coal miners:

MATT KEAN: … the first thing that we need to understand is that those jobs are not going to be impacted by domestic policymakers. They’re going to be determined by changes in international markets and that’s exactly what’s happening. So putting your  fingers in your ears and head in the sand and hoping it’ll go away is not the solution.

- Afternoon Briefing, ABC News Channel, 13 October, 2021

Thus has News Corp been forced to take its head out of the sand as well, with The Australian’s Political Editor Simon Benson declaring:

... the train is leaving the station and it is leaving whether everyone is on board or not.

- The Australian, 14 October, 2021

And Joe Hildebrand — who’s the happy, smiling face of the News Corp campaign — was busy spinning the same line, that ‘it’s time’:

JOE HILDEBRAND: … ‘hang on a minute, you know, we're going to get left behind if we don't act on this’.

- The Latest, Seven Network, 11 October, 2021

Joe was talking about Australia, but the same is true of his own employer.

As Seven’s Angela Cox pointed out:

ANGELA COX: … this is a massive campaign by News Corp, you guys, very influential. Bit of a change of tune trying to save the planet on climate change ...

- The Latest, Seven Network, 11 October, 2021

No doubt Joe’s been handsomely paid for his spinning.  

And just as well, because on 2GB he told Jim Wilson that everyone else in Australia had failed to deliver on climate policy and it was time to leave it to the adults at News Corp:

JOE HILDEBRAND: And so we just basically had to come in and say, ‘alright, well you’ve all had a turn, time for the grown-ups to take over’. And we’ve just said, ‘you know what, let’s just take all the politics out of it, strip out all the politics, all the vendetta’ ... 

- Drive with Jim Wilson, 2GB, 11 October, 2021

That, Joe, is shockingly dishonest. 

Because it was News Corp’s grown-ups who gave us the politics and vendetta, with headlines like this:

CARBON COLLAPSE

Firm fails every hour as energy prices soar

- The Daily Telegraph, 18 March, 2013

CARBON ZOMBIES

Shorten to bring failed green tax back from the dead

- The Daily Telegraph, 15 July, 2015

HORROR SHOW

Three years after rejecting Labor’s carbon tax … 

… the dreaded nightmare returns

VOTERS WAKE IN FRIGHT

- The Daily Telegraph, 28 April, 2016

And it was also News Corp’s grown-ups who helped Australia fail. 

News Corp campaigned against a carbon tax in 2008 when Kevin Rudd first proposed it. It then attacked Julia Gillard and her emissions reduction scheme even harder.

And when Tony Abbott killed it all off in 2014, this was the Tele’s jubilant front page:

After 747 days of economy-stifling misery …

TAX BITES THE DUST

Illegitimate love child of Julia Gillard and Bob Brown, birthed from a lie.

- The Daily Telegraph, 18 July, 2014

But, apart from News.com.au, almost all News Corp’s key mastheads have been casting doubt on climate science or the need for action for decades. 

In 2010, UNSW’s David McKnight examined the group’s coverage between 1997 and 2007 and concluded:

… newspapers and television stations owned by News Corporation, based on their editorials, columnists and commentators, largely denied the science of climate change and dismissed those who were concerned about it … its corporate view framed the issue as one of political correctness rather than science.

- SAGE Journals, ‘A change in the climate? The journalism of opinion at News Corporation’, 16 December, 2010

In 2011, Robert Manne’s Quarterly Essay, Bad News, focused on The Australian’s climate coverage since 2000, and it found:

… its editorials welcomed the anti–climate science challenges both of unqualified scientists and totally unqualified laypeople [and] consistently denied that the science was “settled,” ...

- Quarterly Essay, ‘Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the shaping of the nation’, 1 September, 2011

And that same year, Wendy Bacon at UTS reached similar conclusions and last year, in a new study, found little had changed.

As Junkee reported:

A new report shows that over the last 12 months — following the Black Summer bushfires — nearly half of all climate coverage in four News Corp publications cast doubt on or completely rejected climate science.

The Daily Telegraph was the worst, with 58 percent of its pieces on climate change being negative.

- Junkee, 17 December, 2020

To push home its do-nothing message, News Corp and its columnists have used a variety of arguments: that climate change is great, that the science isn’t settled, that it’s all just alarmism, and even a socialist plot.

They’ve also insisted global warming has nothing to do with droughts and nothing to do with bushfires, and that the Barrier Reef is not really in danger.

News Corp’s commentators have also told us it’s pointless taking action because, as Terry McCrann put it in the Herald Sun in 2019:

Nothing, nothing, the Australian government can do can make the slightest difference to the climate. We are just too small.

- Herald Sun, 16 May, 2019

And they have consistently argued that renewable energy is too expensive — in fact it’s now cheaper — and beset by problems because it’s no good when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. 

Or as The Australian’s former leader writer Chris Kenny put it on Sky:

CHRIS KENNY: … we’ve always said that renewables are nice, if they work. But they’re expensive, unreliable, impractical and frankly a bit of a con.

- Kenny on Media, Sky News Australia, 27 April, 2020

So, if Australia did take action to radically reduce emissions, News Corp told us, we’d get regular blackouts and soaring power bills, while Australians would lose their jobs and it would cost taxpayers a fortune:

$60b

That’s how much extra Labor’s carbon policy will cost our economy

- The Daily Telegraph, 19 April, 2019

Or, if you preferred an earlier calculation, it would be 10 times as much:

ALP’s $600B CARBON BILL

Power bills up 78 per cent

Thousands of jobs lost

Economic growth shattered

- The Daily Telegraph, 10 August, 2015

Well, happily you can now wave goodbye to all that. Because with a change in News Corp’s editorial direction, the sun will shine and the money will flood in.

On behalf of his bosses, Joe Hildebrand assures us Mission Zero will make Australia fabulously rich:

JOE HILDEBRAND: We're looking at eye-watering sums of like $2.1 trillion by 2050 and something along the lines of 670,000 new jobs.

- The Latest, Seven Network, 11 October, 2021

Woohoo!

So, how come News Corp hasn’t pushed for this bonanza before? 

Last Monday’s campaign opener noted with no sense of shame that Margaret Thatcher sounded the alarm on global warming more than three decades ago: 

THE FORMER BRITISH PM, WITH A BACKGROUND IN CHEMISTRY, UNDERSTOOD THE SCIENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND TRIED TO WARN THE WORLD OF THE PERIL AHEAD IF NOTHING WAS DONE TO ADDRESS IT ...

- The Daily Telegraph, 11 October, 2021

Sadly, News Corp wasn’t listening at the time. Or for the next 31 years.

But now, finally, it’s endorsing what the science and the scientists are telling us: the world is getting hotter, glaciers are melting, bushfires are becoming more frequent and severe, droughts are getting worse and more widespread, and the Great Barrier Reef has suffered three mass bleaching events in the last five years.

And it’s even given us a dire warning from the Climate Council’s Will Steffen: 

“With increasing fires, floods and extreme heat, the climate system is on the verge of getting out of control … the risk of not getting on top of this is enormous. It’s almost existential.”

- The Daily Telegraph, 11 October, 2021

That’s the same Professor Steffen who called for urgent “political and economic action on emissions” in Nature magazine two years ago.

Only to be immediately rubbished by News Corp’s Peta Credlin for being an “activist academic”:

PETA CREDLIN: Let’s be clear, this is not science but advocacy dressed up as science. And just because someone has ‘professor’ in his title doesn’t mean he’s not pushing a barrow. The Nature editorial even, more or less, owns up to being part of a campaign …

- Credlin, Sky News Australia, 28 November, 2019

Also leading News Corp’s dramatic U-turn is Dr Alan Finkel, the scientist who authored a landmark report on energy policy for the Turnbull government in 2017.

As the Tele told us last week:

Doctor Alan Finkel is the nation’s leading figure in our response to the climate change challenge.

There is no one more expert, more influential or more well-balanced to answer questions on climate change and our national response.

- The Daily Telegraph, 11 October, 2021

Yet back in 2017, the Telegraph’s Piers Akerman had a slightly different take on his work and talent:

THE Finkel report is a blueprint for destruction — of the Australian economy and destruction of the Liberal Party. 

His report fails at every level. The claims that are made in his name just don’t stand up …

- The Sunday Telegraph, 18 June, 2017

If it wasn’t so serious, this hypocrisy would be hilarious. 

But in fact News Corp has helped delay real action on climate change for well over a decade. 

We asked News Corp to comment on that, as well as a series of other questions, but we did not get a reply.

So will the future really be different? 

One former News Corp executive told Media Watch cynically: 

It will just be a two-week campaign. It won’t affect future coverage. Editors will continue to take their own line on what climate change stories they run.

- Phone interview, Former News Corp executive, 15 October, 2021

And the same executive predicted News Corp will not be sacking or muzzling its commentators, saying: 

No, it’ll just let them run. 

- Phone interview, Former News Corp executive, 15 October, 2021

Several climate change campaigners have also dismissed the News Corp campaign as greenwashing. 

But others see it as a tectonic shift and we think they’re right, at least as far as News Corp’s tabloids are concerned. 

Having backflipped once, they surely can’t do it again. And if they do monster Labor in the next election, it will surely have to be on something else.  

Writing in the Nine newspapers, The Australian’s former political reporter David Crowe called News Corp’s repositioning significant and a “political development with impact”, explaining that now: 

Morrison can cajole Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce into accepting net zero by 2050 in the knowledge the country’s biggest newspaper publisher will not campaign against the target.

- The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 October, 2021

And on ABC Radio, former PM Malcolm Turnbull took a similar view of the significance:

MALCOLM TURNBULL: … this gives Scott Morrison licence to make a move. You know, the anti-climate action coalition in Australia has been for years a combination of vested interests in the fossil fuel sector, gas and coal, the right-wing politics in the Liberal and National parties and their supporters and the Murdoch press. And so what you’re seeing is, at the very least, a shift in part of the Murdoch press. And the message that is being sent to Morrison is to say if you move …

… the Murdoch tabloids will not come after you.

- Mornings with Virginia Trioli, ABC Melbourne, 11 October, 2021

If that’s true, this is a historic change, which could transform the way Australia’s climate policy is made. 

But what about all those noisy columnists who have done so much to shape News Corp’s position in the past? Will they keep shouting the odds?

To judge by last week’s reaction, their answer is yes:

CHRIS KENNY: Net-zero by 2050 is a glib line, a slogan, a fashionable and vacuous promise ...

- The Kenny Report, Sky News Australia, 11 October, 2021

PETA CREDLIN: By making our nation poorer and our energy security here more precarious, at one of the most volatile times in our history, well to me, that just defies common sense.

- Credlin, Sky News Australia, 11 October, 2021

ALAN JONES: We are a world superpower in fossil fuels; we should be proud of it and market it to the world.

- Alan Jones, Sky News Australia, 13 October, 2021

Those columnists get their platform with The Australian and Sky News, which rely less on ads than the tabloids do. And strident opinion helps sell subscriptions. 

But even if their chorus continues at full volume — and we reckon it will quieten down — the sceptics will be reduced to howling on the sidelines, as Andrew Bolt so eloquently put it. 

Or, in the words of The Australian’s Political Editor Simon Benson, they will be stranded shouting at the station, after the train has departed.

 

 

From: https://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/episodes/climate/13591490

 

Gus: Fair comment from Paul Barry... But what is the purpose of the Murdoch media "flip"...?

 

Fair question... My personal guess would be that the mood in the Australian electorate, despite the doubters cultivated by the Murdoch media, is in favour of doing something about "climate change". But the Murdoch media hates Labor that has been a proponent of "climate change" action since 2007, when even John W Howard, the CONservative Australian PM went to an election with a "climate change" policy. New technology has come online as well: solar panels which made people realised they lowered their electricity bills to the point the providers were giving them money for their KWs, windmills (turbines) that pepper the top of hills and now electricity storage efficient large battery arrays, including a re-pumping water storage higher station... So the mood is that should Scott Morrison do "nothing" — as most of the "climate change" efforts have been made by the States and the people by also using low energy light bulbs — he would take a bath at the next election. To prevent this "calamity" in the eye of the Murdoch media, something has to be done about "climate change" appearances... to give Scomo a chance at surviving the next election.

 

This Gusview is very sarcastic in its distrust of the Murdoch media... The payola for the Murdoch media isn't that "climate change" will get decent policies from Kanbra, but that the CONservative government will stay in power for another three years at least — if not forever... So, has the Murdoch media "flipped"??? Nupe... Once the Scomo government is reelected with its horde of unelected "CONsultants" who are more about preserving the CONservative ScoMo rather than produce real and proper policies towards solving "climate change", the same weak or inexistent "climate change" policies from ScoMo will still be the go, even after COP26. And the Murdoch media will pat itself on the back for preserving a denialist CONservative government — EVEN if the Murdoch media presses catch on fire in the heat of summer, or get flooded in a "rare" tornado event...

 

Read from top.

 

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