The Guardian • Issue #1981

Frydenberg offers net-zero but we demand more

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #1981

Last month, cracks began to appear in the Coalition government’s policy on climate change. Speaking to leaders in the financial sector, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg stated that by failing to commit to a net-zero strategy, we run the risk of not being “in line with the rest of the world.” But, in what is perhaps the strongest language yet, Frydenberg stated that “[c]limate change and its impacts are not going away. To go the next step and achieve net-zero will require more investment across the economy.”

And yet, while Frydenberg’s words are encouraging, the Morrison government cannot seem to develop a coherent strategy as it attempts to navigate parliament. Nationals leader and deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is at the forefront of the climate denial faction, and he has not been quiet about it. Joyce has made it known by openly throwing caution into the wind, stating that we need to focus on helping people “keep their job and their standard of living” – a vague liberal platitude about jobs.

However, Joyce isn’t the only one. When Senator Matt Canavan was asked about the targets he stated that was “ridiculous and I’m not going to take lectures from other countries that have not met their targets. […] I don’t think they’ve got any moral high ground to make those arguments.” Furthermore, Canavan has been open about his fight with his colleagues stating that “I am deadset against net zero emissions – just look at the disaster the United Kingdom is living through. I haven’t even begun to fight.”

Thus, with these tensions opened up like a sore wound, we must ask: can we rely on the Morrison government to get us to net-zero? It would seem with all the pandering and tip-toeing around that the government may get to it…eventually. And then what? Do we argue about for the next incremental change for months, if not years, on end?

The Morrison government doesn’t have a substantive path for a renewables future. All Frydenberg can talk about is the “the entrepreneurial spirit of Australian businesses” and the “new or expanded markets will present new opportunities for Australia” – as if saving our environment was about maximising profits, not saving the planet. This kind of thinking is not innovative and places our planet in the hands of those who are wholly unqualified.

The problem for Frydenberg and co. is that to fundamentally change the system means to fundamentally change who they represent – big business. This is not some secret either, Frydenberg talks openly about his relationship with the mining industry stating “it is wrong to assume that traditional sectors, like resources and agriculture, will face decline over the course of the transition. To the contrary, many businesses in these sectors are at the cutting edge of innovation and technological change.” This is, in fact, not true. In order to change the planet we must change the world. To do this, we must overhaul the means of production, redistribute global wealth, and organise our society in an efficient, planned economy. We can win this fight but we must do it together.

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