Alphabet soup of denialism

In the last week we’ve had reports on the future of the electricity system from the ACCC, AEMO and ESB.  These acronymic bodies all share in the responsibility for the mess we find ourselves in today. Their reports are not only inconsistent with each other in critical respects, but internally incoherent.

The one thing they have in common is that they all assume that Australia should do nothing more about climate change. In this, they are reflecting the Trumpist views of our  government, restated more elegantly by its vapid frontman, Malcolm Turnbull.

The idea that these denialist policies could somehow represent a solution to the dispute over energy policy in Australia is bizarre. When and if the Trumpists are defeated, we will need a radical increase in ambition. A carbon price should be part of this, but the policy disasters of the last five years mean that much more drastic action will be needed.

The only benefit of the last week’s output is to remind us that the entire alphabet soup of bodies running our failing energy season needs to be tipped down the drain and replaced with a publicly owned grid, and a radical transformation of electricity generation, phasing out coal as rapidly as possible.

27 thoughts on “Alphabet soup of denialism

  1. This site is a gift that keeps giving for so many reasons.

    You wouldn’t notice, yet it is actually serious, blatant censorship of a sort.

  2. Ad hominem attacks on people whose opinions you don’t like, such as calling them Trumpists, is itself the essence of Trumpism.

    On the substance, the ESB report says explicitly that that if a future government wants a policy of bixgger emissions reductions, this can be accomplished in the framework of the Neg. It also says that state government renewable energy targets can also be accomplished in the framework of the Neg. How this equates to “assuming that Australia should nothing more about climate change”, beats me.

    The Neg report is on the Renew Economy site.

  3. @2
    1. You need to learn what ad hominem means. Wikipedia is your friend.
    2. I think Trumpism is bad, but leading figures in the government (Morrison, Cormann and, leading from behind, Tony Abbott) don’t. Google x + Trump and see what you get.
    3. Renew Economy appears to agree with my take. The claim that the policy can always be changed later is inconsistent with the government’s intention of legislating a low ambition target.

  4. @3

    What is legislated by this government can be changed by another government. It’s not as though the 26% target is written into the constitution.

  5. exactly Smith9.
    John is becoming a grumpy old man as he gets older.
    A denialist denies climate change. Show me where any of these institutions do that. It is absurd as your allegations against the Grattan institute.

    Ah hominem John. Calling people deniaists when they patently are not. It is very Catallaxy like only a mirror image of what they do..

    I think all of us would prefer a price on carbon ( I prefer a carbon tax) however that ain’t likely for some time to come so I am happy to accept a NEG until that can occur.

    As Smith9 says it is quite easy to change the 26% once it is accepted and the NEG does have a strange form of ETS in it..

    In some ways you remind me of the old 1960/70s Vic ALP. If it is not pure we do not support it.

  6. @Smith9, effective policy needs time to be created, time to be discussed, time to be legislated and time to be implemented. As a nation we struggle to get to first base, at every stage the path is frustrated by fake news, opinions and politics.

  7. Imagine a report on how to keep medical costs down that considered current national levels of sickness and mortality were fine and that we shouldn’t attempt to improve health or increase life expectancy. I don’t think it people would be very happy with that.

    But a more accurate comparison would be if the nation faced growing health threats — increased chances of pandemics, increasing levels of carcinogens, rising antibiotic resistance, or whatever — and the report decided that nothing should be done about them because keeping costs down now is more important the future death toll.

  8. The Trump administration is an alliance between nativist bigots and plutocrats, many of them in the fossil fuel sector. Big Oil was financing denialism long before Trump entered politics. In many respects, Pruitt and Sessions represent different interests. The recent development is that the nativists have taken up climate denial in many countries. Not universally- the far right in the Nordic countries are IIRC immune, the consensus is just too strong. Corrections welcome.

  9. smith9

    If you do not think that a calculation that a lower target embedded in law and a COAG process where consensus is needed is more difficult to change than one in regulation, and that this is one of the attractions of this package for the denialist right, then your grasp of Australian politics is remarkably weak.

  10. If any of the Organisations names were denialists at all they would:

    Recommend base load power not dispatchable power
    Recommend building new coal plants BECAUSE of dubious casting alah Minerals council
    Say that there is no correlation between CO2 and global warming
    Indeed may even suggest warming could be good for the planet
    amongst other things.

    Have they said it???

    NO! Not even close

  11. notrampis

    Why are you quibbling about the definition of ‘denialists’? What is the significance of your point?

  12. quibling???
    If you are going to say some-one or some organisation is peddling climate denial you need to say what that is.

    The point is obvious. John is alleging denialism where it clearly is not.

    I expect much higher standards from John and from people who comment here!

  13. Well your claim that you expect much higher standards from John and from people who comment here is possibly meant to be flattering but it looks like some sort of what they call a back handed compliment so there is that.

    But the real point is that your claim that “the point is obvious” is quite ludicrous, to me anyway. Why would you think that everyone thinks the same way as you do? Are you an economist?

  14. Unless you live somewhere and the word denialism is never used then yes it is very obvious.

    and yes I would like This blog get back to the high standards it was known for.

    Yes to the last question.

  15. One way for the blog to get back to the high standards it was known for would be for you notrampis to be more coherent when you write comments.

  16. When these organisations produce reports about future energy under guidelines or terms of reference that exclude or give low priority to climate considerations then denial of the climate problem is built into them. Whether it’s the guidlelines or the organisations, the denial is there.

    No energy policy can give long term certainty (or at least investor confidence) except those that give certainty to a transition to low emissions that goes beyond the immediate international agreements, all the way to zero and beyond.

  17. notrampis I don’t think you understood the ‘high standards’ that you say you are hankering for; just as you don’t understand the fact that the meaning of words – such as ‘denial’ and ‘denialist’ are not defined by individual choice.

  18. It is possible to design institutions (eg the three named in the thread or courts or ….) with ‘mission statements’ or ‘statutory powers’ or ‘constitutions’ such that all members of the set of institutions is barred from addressing any one of a list of crucial problems. The problem becomes acute and difficult to analyse when those who design the institutions request reports from these institutions for the purpose of decision making. As Ken Fabian noted wrt climate change, ‘denial is built in’.

    A related problem occurs in organisations where the ‘head’ of the organisation, on the advice of group X, develops an organisational structure with so-called devolved decision making that ensures the outcome does not allow some problems with X to be seen.

  19. I actually agree with some people here that John is blaming the wrong people. The report writers are all public servants subject to the policy direction of the government of the day. Not having read them all, I would guess the reportsy twist themselves into knots trying to stay within cooee of reality without venturing outside the reality-defiance of the policy framework they are given. I’ve been there, done that.

    Advocating sensible policy which will never be implemented by this government while embarrassing said government would just sacrifice their own position to no purpose. Been there, done that too.

  20. derridaderider

    The Australian Competitionand Consumer Commission produces a report on how energy policy has affected competition and consumers, the two things which as a matter of law it is concerned with, and because the report does not mention the words “climate change” enough, then we are supposed to conclude that the ACCC are a bunch of climate change deniers.

    It’s a ludicrous argument.

  21. smith9 Who do you think expects you to “conclude that the ACCC are a bunch of deniers”?

    Perhaps you are on a mission against an imaginary opponent. There is a lot of that going around; it’s a very ordinary human trait and one of the tendencies of human behaviour that needs to be noted and attended to.

    There is sufficient knowledge available that could help us all think and respond more rationally; it is unfortunate that more people do not understand or even try to understand their motivations and question the significance of their emotional responses.

  22. In recent months, the ACCC has recommended restrictions on shale and coal seam gas extraction be lifted across Australia, regardless of the environmental effects.

    They literally state this. ‘We won’t weigh in on the environmental effects, but we strongly recommend the removal of these restrictions. Governments who keep these environmental restrictions in place are acting irresponsibly and anticompetitively and hijacking the budgets of ordinary consumers’. That’s their position, as clear as day.

    The ACCC has also claimed subsidising solar and other renewables has been “distortionary” and had a negative effect on fossil fuel electrical generation, and should be phased out as quickly as possible. Governments should then be free to subsidise whatever fossil fuels they like in order to lock in the “lowest prices” for consumers.

    As John states, recent ACCC reports and policy recommendations are 100% denialist. To the extent they acknowledge climate change exists, they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge anything needs to be done about it.

  23. Frank & Fearless get lost in perceptionland…

    “This was the case when noted climate sceptic Dick Warburton handed down a report on the Renewable Energy Target, and when education conservative Kevin Donnelly reviewed Australia’s national curriculum. These reports usually find their way to the rubbish bin once governments of a different hue assume office.

    In contrast, more broad-based and less politicised inquiries – such as the Gonski review of school funding – may well retain their currency for longer.

    There are arrangements in place that may dull the excesses of political appointments – such as the Public Accounts Committee, the Senate estimates process, codes of ministerial conduct and independent audits.

    But unlike the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, Australia hasn’t appointed an independent commissioner for public appointments. An independent appointments body may help ensure that the government of the day cannot directly influence appointments to agencies and programs that specifically require diversity of interests and arm’s length from government.”

    Who here agrees we need a independent commissioner for public appointments, climate change or not?

  24. I did read the post and I can see that if one was motivated one could assume that the words say the “ACCC are a bunch of deniers” but the question for me is why anyone would want to simplify the significance of what JQ writes rather than to acknowledge that he usually has something relevant and intelligent to say about issues.

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