Scott Morrison’s marketing suggests Australia has a ‘strong track record’ on emissions | Graham Readfearn
A just over a month before the start of a major climate conference in Glasgow, the Morrison government struggles to agree on emission reduction targets, and a promised long-term strategy to cut pollution climate has still not materialized.
But at least he’s got an ad campaign.
Earlier this month, the government released Australia’s Making Positive Energy website and a series of ads across multiple platforms. It’s already on your TV.
The idea is that Australia has “a strong track record and future plans to reduce our emissions,” Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said.
This strong track record may be news for some people. There is also a slogan: “What we do today will define our tomorrow. Gas recovery, do you like it?
The campaign makes a big, central statement about Australia’s emissions record and – as this column is the first in a weekly exercise to check the facts on climate change – let’s take a look.
Australia, according to the campaign, has cut emissions by 20% since 2005 – a figure Taylor used when releasing the latest quarterly emissions report late last month.
The big issue here is where in the Australian economy these emissions cuts have occurred and whether or not they’re related to something the government has actually done (because if it’s related to government policy, it deserves to be praise).
The government’s own data shows that the vast majority of falls occur in the land use sector where the federal government does not make policy. When state governments tried to control land clearing, it was not done to control greenhouse gas emissions, but to slow habitat loss and erosion.
In March 2005, emissions from changes to land (including clearing of vegetation and trees and any regrowth) were 83.6 Mt. In March 2021, these emissions were -24.5 Mt. That is a swing of 108Mt.
By removing the effect of land use change, the government’s claim that emissions have decreased by 20% since 2005 becomes less impressive by 3%.
Emissions from the electricity sector – which make up about a third of Australia’s footprint – have fallen by about 16% since 2005, from 196.9 Mt to 164.1 Mt.
But thanks mainly to the expansion of the country’s huge LNG industry, emissions from the second largest stationary energy sector are on the rise. Emissions from transport are also increasing.
When Taylor announced the latest quarterly emissions report, he said that if you excluded industries like LNG that produce products for export, emissions had actually fallen 38.3% since 2005.
It’s like saying “if we hadn’t generated all these emissions, our emissions would be lower”. This is misleading but in ALL CAPITALS.
The Australian government’s “gas recovery” campaign after the Covid-induced economic slowdown or the $ 600 million committed for a new gas plant are not included in the campaign.
Morrison’s statements from just a year ago also don’t appear in the promotion, when he said things like ‘we have to get the gas’ and’ gas is not just at the heart of our industrial plan. , it is also at the heart of our energy plan “.
The International Energy Agency says there is no room for further fossil fuel developments if the world is to reach net zero by 2050.
Cow burps and seaweed
There are a host of government-backed projects promoted in the campaign that will help cut emissions, such as the extension of the Snowy Hydro program and major investments in R&D projects to create a hydrogen industry.
But also featured is asparagopsis – a red algae which, according to the campaign, is a “feed supplement for livestock which reduces methane production by more than 80% and has the potential to increase livestock productivity”.
The impression could be that the algae supplement already exists and the reduction potential is clear. But there is still a long way to go before this claim can hold water.
Beef and dairy cattle burp methane that is produced in part of their stomachs when they digest their food.
The base of the 80% figure is a study from the start of this year and it only applies to the reduction of methane from livestock while they are in a feedlot (and can easily be fed with the supplement), rather than during their lifetime.
Only about half of the methane emitted by cattle comes from their presence in a feedlot. For dairy cows that come for daily milking, this is less of a problem.
The number of steers fed the dose of algae that delivered a methane reduction of over 80% was only six. A previous Australian trial that showed the supplement’s even higher methane reduction potential with a different breed of cattle submitted five steers at the dose delivering the very large reduction.
Future Feed, who owns the intellectual property of the supplement, tells me that they are confident in the scientific results because each animal’s results are a repeat of a previous result “so you can achieve scientific rigor without the need for large-scale trials “.
Future Feed expects “early adopters” to get a supply of the supplement by the end of this year or early next year.
A spokesperson said: “Currently our science is applicable in the feedlot and we have a grazing program that is underway and will run for the next two years.”
The Morrison government has given $ 1 million to increase algae production, which seems minimal considering the beef industry’s emission reduction potential around the world.
“Lazy environmental writers”
News Corp Australia tabloids are preparing to launch an editorial campaign for a net zero target by 2050 ahead of the Glasgow talks.
Former Australian editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell, writing in his old journal, was annoyed by the way the campaign had been reported, as she did when the climate science panel at the The UN released its latest report, known as AR6.
According to Mitchell, “lazy writers on the environment” had reported the “political twist” of UN Secretary-General António Guterres that the report represented a “code red for humanity” but ignored three facts which, according to Mitchell. he was there.
Let’s shoot our lazy people.
Mitchell wrote that the AR6 had “found little evidence of increasingly severe storms.” The report’s ‘Summary for Policymakers’ has a section that reads:
The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events have increased since the 1950s over most of the land for which observational data is sufficient for trend analysis (high confidence), and climate change induced by Man is likely the main driver.
The report says data limitations make it difficult to find past trends globally for tropical cyclones – but points out that studies have shown that human-caused climate change results in more precipitation in cyclones.
Mitchell also interpreted the report as saying it had “toned down the temperature forecast.” Did it?
An important number for followers of these reports is what’s called the equilibrium climate sensitivity – that is, the global warming you get if you allow the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to double from pre-industrial times, then press pause and let the climate settle into a new normal.
The previous IPCC report published in 2013 found that the ECS would be between 1.5C and 4.5C.
The latest report said the likely range would reduce the upper end by half a degree, but the lower end was now one degree warmer with the ECS now at 2.5 to 4C. But the report also said it couldn’t rule out ECS above 5C.
That’s hardly easing things off.
Newman’s temperature conspiracy
Businessman Maurice Newman has described climate science as an “expensive smokescreen” and “myth” and is not a fan of the Bureau of Meteorology.
In the days following the campaign confirmation from News Corp Australia, Newman wrote in The Daily Telegraph that the BoM’s thermometers “are shamelessly located next to busy highways, airport runways, at the top. charcoal loaders or wherever temperatures rise to adapt to his story of climate change. “
Given that the Brisbane Airport Weather Station was set up there in 1929 and the Mount Gambier Weather Station has been there since 1941, it appears the office was either way ahead of its time in making its conspiracy plans or that the plot does not exist.
Darwin Airport began recording maximum air temperatures in 1941 and has just recorded its hottest September day on record.