Matt Canavan Says Labor’s Climate Plan is “revenge on Queensland” but the facts tell a different story | Graham Readfearn


Australia’s climate wars may not be over yet, but with the main goals and policies of the two main parties now out, there seems to be some calming of the political shots.

But Queensland Coalition Senator Matt Canavan was still trying to fire gunshots, with a front page claim that Labor’s new climate policy was “revenge” on his home state.

In an article in the Courier Mail, Canavan claimed that Labor policies “let other states off the hook” and “suspended” the state with its “radical carbon cuts”.

Last week the opposition announced that it would cut emissions by 43% from 2005 levels by 2030 if it wins the next elections. This compares with the Morrison administration’s target of 26% to 28%.

Canavan said Labor would target 215 high-emission plants, nearly a third of which are in Queensland. This was apparently a revenge for the state, which rejected the opposition in the 2019 federal election.

The Nationals Senator said Labor’s “radical carbon cuts” would result in “massive job losses” in the state.

Labor’s proposal, however, is based on a proposal by the Business Council of Australia (BCA) to tighten a policy that was passed by the coalition in November 2014 and came into effect when Malcolm Turnbull was Prime Minister.

This policy is known as the protective mechanism, according to which plants such as mines and smelters, which emit more than 100,000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year, have to buy emission certificates if their emissions exceed a predetermined limit.

The BCA has also proposed lowering the threshold for the mechanism below 100,000 tonnes, but Labor has announced it will not do so.

Labor wants to tighten this mechanism by reducing the ceilings annually, but has not yet decided exactly how the cuts will be distributed among the institutions.

The list of facilities that Labor says Canavan is using to take revenge on his own state is actually a list of companies compiled through the policies of his own government.

AngloAmerica’s Capcoal Mine in the Bowen Basin, which produces coal for steelmaking, topped a list of “Queensland’s Heaviest Emitters” published in the Courier Mail, with emissions of 3.15 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year .

Capcoal’s owner, Anglo American, aims to be carbon neutral in all of its operations around the world, including its Australian mines, by 2040.

But the Courier Mail list was not (nor was it “revealed” as the newspaper claimed) of Queensland’s strongest emitters, rather it was rather a list of the highest-emission entities registered under the protection mechanism.

According to the federal government, the largest corporate emitter of greenhouse gases in Queensland is Stanwell – the state-owned coal-fired power plant, which emits 17.1 million tons of CO2e annually.

Stanwell’s coal-fired power plants in Tarong alone emit 9.7 million tonnes, but power generators are currently not covered by the protection mechanism.

Off the hook?

How about Canavan’s claim that the use of the safety mechanism is throwing other states “off the hook”?

First, it should come as no surprise that Queensland, as the state with the highest emissions, accounting for almost a third of the country’s total footprint, is facing bigger savings than anywhere else (the state’s 2030 target remains at 30%).

In fact, Western Australia is the country with the highest emissions under the protection mechanism. Last year, 66 plants generated 46.2 million tons of CO2e, according to data from the Clean Energy Regulator.

Queensland had the second highest emissions with 65 plants producing 37.7 million tons. There are 38 plants in New South Wales producing 25.6 million tonnes.

To say that using the emissions reduction mechanism allows other states to “get off the shelf” is not an argument based on an objective reality.

No hidden net zero

There are fewer things that are more likely to make your audience angry than telling them that something is really big and scary and that this big and scary thing is being hidden from them.

Alan Jones – a longtime climate change science denier – posted a new streaming show Direct to the People that shuddered this week.

Jones told his new online audience that the world’s financial giants were set to net zero, with $ 130 trillion in financial power joining the Glasgow Financial Alliance for New Zero.

Jones asked guest Canavan, “why is the public not being told”, and raged that banks were “playing this ideological game with our deposits”.

“It does this behind the scenes,” said Jones, adding that “we really have what it takes to be a financial crisis.”

In reality, the main motivation for the shift of global capital away from fossil fuels is to avoid a crisis in which investments in dirty energy sources are stranded and trigger an actual financial crisis. For years, shareholders have been pushing large energy companies to convert their businesses to renewable energies.

This seemingly secret deal, hidden from Australians, is so secretive that it has appeared on news outlets around the world and is just the latest part of an issue that has been widely covered for years.

The coalition has even launched a parliamentary inquiry, the forthcoming report on whether banks and insurance companies are withdrawing investment from coal projects.

Why aren’t we told? The press release by the British Chancellor Rishi Sunak is believed to have come out by mistake?


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