Dutton Opens Debate On The Paris Climate Agreement

Written by:
19 June 2024
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In this article, Saxon Davidson contextualises and disseminates the findings of the IPA’s research on net zero.

The IPA’s Net Zero Program aims to research the various ways net zero policies negatively affect Australia’s energy security, national security capabilities, and household electricity prices.


According to certain sections of the media and the federal government, Peter Dutton’s commitment to scrapping Australia’s unachievable 2030 emissions target is a reawakening of the so-called ‘climate wars’ – if they ever went away in the first place.

This announcement is welcome leadership from the Coalition, not only because it injects long overdue common sense into the debate on energy policy but, more importantly, it means Australians will finally have an informed debate about the policy of Net Zero emissions by 2050.

You would have to be living under a rock not to recognise that Australia’s energy costs have been rising rapidly, driven largely by the economic self-harm being inflicted by the ideologically driven emissions policies of all levels of government.

On top of this, research by the Institute of Public Affairs found that the federal government’s emission reduction policies will require a third of Australia’s prime agricultural land to be sacrificed for renewable energy production, and will risk in excess of 650,000 jobs nationwide. Most of these jobs are in the industries we have traditionally relied on for our nation’s prosperity, particularly mining and agriculture.

Peter Dutton subsequently stated that the Coalition will announce their interim 2030 target after the 2025 election. Dutton’s opponents have been breathless in their criticism, claiming that such a policy, if enacted, would be in violation of the Paris Climate Agreement.

With this in mind, it is important to understand what is actually within that document.

First of all, the criticism that Australia would be in violation of the agreement is moot, because Australia can now leave at any time, and for any reason, as per Article 28 of the agreement, without consequence.

This leads to the obvious question: whether it really matters if we are a party to the agreement?

The Paris Climate Agreement is not a document that outlines a science-based climate policy vision, but is an ideologically radical agreement full of buzzwords, and economic ideas which are disastrous for Australia, considering that the mining and agricultural industries are fundamental to our economic livelihood.

Far from solely focusing on emission reduction policies, the Paris Climate Agreement references gender equality, intergenerational equity, ‘Mother Earth’, ‘Climate Justice’, and the ‘traditional knowledge’ of various groups of people. More pagan polemic than policy…

Additionally, Australia’s commitment to the Agreement requires us to make the deepest cuts to emissions on a per capita level, whilst heavy emitters such as China are able to increase their per capita emissions. This is despite the fact that Australia is responsible for just over one per cent of global emissions, compared to China which is responsible for almost a third.

Dutton’s announcement gives us pause to ask ourselves, why should Australia be bound to more punitive restrictions than the largest emitter in the world, and why shouldn’t this be reviewed? This is of particularly pressing importance if the object of the exercise is to achieve goals that are almost impossible to meet regardless of the economic self-harm inflicted.

According to the Climate Action Tracker, there is not a country on Earth that is on track to meet the goals it sets out after nine years; meaning the economic and social disaster this agreement signs us up for is all in vain.

The Paris Climate Agreement is also inherently undemocratic due to the ratchet clause within Article Four, which prohibits member nations from reducing their emissions reduction targets, and only provides scope for countries to increase emission reduction mandates.

This ratchet clause was legislated by the current federal government in the Climate Change Act 2022. So, even if the public votes to change government, the Prime Minister and Chris Bowen have sought to have the unachievable 2030 target enshrined in our laws, with the possible support of a recalcitrant Senate.

It defies a longstanding tenet of the Westminster system for a current Parliament to try and hamstring future, democratically elected Parliaments. And it is particularly galling when it is done for purely ideological reasons, and leaves us at the mercy of foreign, European bureaucrats.

It would of course have been beneficial to have this debate prior to the elites’ ideological emissions push. This fact notwithstanding, Peter Dutton’s announcement is to be welcomed, as it may well mean Australians are much better informed about this issue when next at the ballot box.

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