Don’t despair about the climate emergency. Coal is not the future

(The Guardian, 19 May 2019) Despite the Coalition’s electoral victory, strong international pressures mean climate policy will not be stuck where it is.

It’s going to be hard for those who care about and work on climate change but we must dust ourselves off, because neither despair nor emigrating to New Zealand will help solve the mess Australia’s climate policy is in.

The government has been re-elected with a minimalist climate policy and a weak emissions target, despite widespread community support for action on climate change. Where to from here?

The near term looks grim. The Coalition government will feel locked into its stance against climate action, even if many smart heads in government will understand that a do-nothing approach is unwise. The Labor party might feel that its progressive stance on climate change hurt it. Tax policy might have swung the election, but climate change clearly played a role.

But climate policy will not be stuck there, even if it is a slow and hard road. There are strong international pressures, most of the Australian business community does not want the economy stuck in the past, and the states will not accept a vacuum on climate and energy policy.

The world has started the transition to a low-carbon energy and industrial system. Australia’s best bet is to make use of our tremendous opportunities for low-carbon energy production. Hanging on for grim death to the high-carbon industries of the last century is no economic strategy. The world will not carve out a niche for Australia to continue prospering as a 20th-century style high carbon economy. Global demand for coal will fall. The future for our energy industries is in cheap renewable energy.

External link

The Guardian, 19 May 2019: Don’t despair about the climate emergency. Coal is not the future