Nov 122006

I sort of half-watched Insiders this morning, having begun a water change in the aquariums just as the program started. The guest was only Peter Costello, someone I regard as an also-ran on the Australian political scene, so nothing missed there. However, when I heard him mention climate change, I stopped what I was doing and paid attention.

 His rhetoric in the interview, which was primarily based on and around the past weeks interest rate rise, was completely dismissable. Standard double-speak and financial gobbledy-gook which might bamboozle the average Joe, but appears transparent to someone such as myself. Then Cassidy asked his climate change question:

BARRIE CASSIDY: Okay. On the changes in the United States now, and, with the Democrats having the numbers in the House and the Senate, you would think there may be new policies emerging on climate change, in particular. Do you expect that, and is there any room for Australia to move on that?

PETER COSTELLO: Well, I think, in Australia, we’ve got to keep a careful eye on this. I think the ground is changing. I think it is important that we bring new countries into this discussion. And I think, from Australia’s point of view, if the world starts moving towards a carbon trading system, we can’t be left out of that, that Australia has a role…

BARRIE CASSIDY: You think the world is moving towards that system?

PETER COSTELLO: I think the weakness up until now, Barrie, has been that key consumers, such as China and India, have not been in this. But, as the world moves towards a carbon trading system, Australia, obviously, can’t stand out against the rest of the world, that we ought to be in there negotiating what this system would look like, so that we protect our own interests, obviously, but, also, we ensure that it’s broad ranging, wide encompassing and effective. And I think that’s actually the next chapter.

The next chapter is bringing the key consumers in, China and India, the kind of countries that we’re trying to bring into the world financial system…

Then as if realising he’d stepped off the government line…..

PETER COSTELLO: Well, it’s not immediate. The Kyoto is going from 2008 to 2012. So you’re probably talking about the next decade, and, bear in mind, greenhouse is something that’s believed to increase temperatures, say, two degrees over 50 years. I mean, the thing about greenhouse emissions is – all of the evidence is that they’re emerging but it’s not something that’s going to emerge tomorrow. It’s something we have to work out over 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years.

The Howardian line. Climate change created by human intervention may well be real, but hey…..nothing’s going to happen immediately. We have over fifty years to think about doing anything. Kind of runs against what he’d said less than two minutes previous, doesn’t it? It’s patently clear to me that apart from Costello, there must be many in the Howardian enclave who think and feel the same as Costello. Political expediency and career fervour prohibit them from saying so though. This is the failure of Party political allegiance when members are elected to Parliament by the people. Not their Party. In this, Labor are as guilty as Conservative.

Clearly, despite Prime Minstrel’s declarations that Kyoto is a failed protocol, his followers aren’t following all that closely. It’s plainly evident that industry in this country are well aware that a carbon trading environment is going to eventuate sooner or later. They’d rather it sooner and they’d rather the rules of the game be explained explicitly now, rather than being kept in the dark until too late to make appropriate preparations for strategic liasons. The losses politically in the land of the free this past week will virtually ensure that a carbon trading regime becomes the politick du jour. Bush may well be on a mission from his God, but his options have now become severely restricted with a Democrat Senate and Congress. Kyoto won’t hang out until 2012. The industrial world will ensure a collective act is joined well before that time.

I’m actually quite surprised that Peter Costello should come out of his shell at this time and state his case. Is this another tilt at Little Johnny? I think not. More likely it’s simply a case of being caught goofey-footed too early on a Sunday morn. Revealingly so.