The reality of climate inaction?

This week former LNP Finance Minister Mathias Cormann spoke out strongly in support of “ambitious and effective” planning to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

What does this statement tell us about our government’s climate strategies?

Mathias Cormann in government

Mr Cormann was Australia’s longest serving Finance Minister, holding that position from 2013 to 2020 under Prime Ministers Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.

He was an influential member of the government that has led Australia to the position of being in the bottom 10% of countries according to the Climate Change Performance Index (2020). His voting record on climate action was poor, and he spoke out against effective climate action.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison argues that Australia is on track to meet its international climate commitments, but few believe him. UK and USA have recently begun to pressure Australia to do more.

The influential Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in 2019: “Australia needs to intensify efforts to meet its 2030 emissions goal”

Mathias Cormann in the OECD

Mr Cormann retired from Parliament at the end of 2020. In March he was appointed as the head of that same OECD.

And just recently in his first major speech in that position, he urged stronger action on combatting climate change:

  • “our collective green recovery effort on our journey towards a low-emissions future”;
  • “to reset policies and practices in favour of more sustainable growth, in particular in terms of our climate and inclusive growth objectives”;
  • “It is good to see that more and more countries are committing to net-zero emissions as soon as possible and by no later than 2050. The challenge is how to turn those commitments into outcomes”;
  • “Addressing climate change effectively and efficiently is a truly global challenge, which requires global leadership and co-operation“.

What’s going on?

These OECD statements clearly conflict with our Government’s policy and lack of action. So how can we understand Mathias Cormann’s attitude to climate action?

Are his OECD statements a dishonest smokescreen to disguise his real views?

Was he always a closet climate activist who kept kept his views hidden while in Government so he could keep his position?

Has he undergone a “Damascus road” conversion to climate reality?

Or does our government really know that we need to do more but is cynically avoiding action to keep its wealthy donors happy?

I don’t know. You can be the judge!

Photo: Commonwealth of Australia via Wikipedia.

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