Australia’s political class must exchange their obsession with climate mandates for an obsession with Australian jobs by ditching the Paris Agreement and refusing to adopt a job-killing net zero emissions target.
The debate over Australia’s emissions target has fired up in recent weeks. But while there’s plenty of bumper sticker politicking, as Senator James McGrath said on 17 February, there is not much honesty.
Here are some key facts about Australia’s carbon emissions and the costs of a net zero emissions policy.
If Australia completely deindustrialised overnight, it would have no discernable impact on global carbon emissions.
Since 2004, China has increased its annual carbon emissions by 5 billion tonnes. Australia has increased its annual emissions by only 27.4 million tonnes. This means that China’s emissions growth has outpaced Australia’s 184 to 1. China is responsible for 63.3 per cent of the increase in global annual carbon emissions since 2004. Meanwhile, Australia is only responsible for 0.35 per cent.
Even though Australia’s emissions have grown in absolute terms, they are declining on a per capita basis. Australia’s per capita emissions have declined by 15.4 per cent since 2004. China’s per capita emissions, on the other hand, have increased by 83.5 per cent since 2004.
China operates 57 coal-fired power stations for each one currently operating in Australia. This figure will only increase in coming years: 92 new coal-fired power stations are currently being constructed in China, with a further 135 in the pre-construction phase.
Australia has no coal-fired power stations in either the construction or pre-construction phase.
Between 2009 and 2019, Australia’s share of global emissions decreased from 1.3 per cent to 1.1 per cent. China’s increased from 24.7 per cent to 28 per cent.
While Australia’s political class have been obsessing over Australia’s negligible carbon emissions, China has done nothing to restrain its emissions. If Australia were wiped off the face of the earth tomorrow, it would take just 16 days for China to produce Australia’s entire annual carbon emissions footprint.
An Institute of Public Affairs report published this month found that a net zero emissions target would put 653,600 Australian jobs at direct risk, and those who would be most effected live in regional Australia. Before they could even collect their first Centrelink payment, China would have already emitted more carbon than Australia does each year.
One year ago, Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the fact that a net zero target would destroy jobs. He said that those who commit to a net zero emissions target “can’t look Australians in the eye and tell them what it will mean for their electricity prices, what it will mean for their jobs.”
Australians were given the choice at the so-called ‘climate election’ in 2019. They delivered the same message that they did at the 2013 election: we care about our jobs, our livelihoods, and the prosperity of our communities more than we care about the global elites who signed the Paris Agreement.
The message was particularly clear in three key seats which the IPA has identified as having the highest share of jobs which would be put at risk by a net zero emissions target. Flynn, where 24 per cent of jobs are placed at risk, had a swing towards the LNP of 7.62 per cent. Maranoa and Capricornia had similar numbers. Destroying jobs in these heartland seats to chase inner-city votes would be a betrayal of the Coalition’s new working-class base.