Last week, the Australian Prime Minister released a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Dig into the 29 page report (roughly 1800 pages less than the UK version) and you’ll see not much more than accounting tricks and buzzwords, without any clear vision or direction. It’s a plan based on inaction – delaying making tough calls and hiding behind offsets.
It's time for some leadership
We are all desperate for someone to lift their heads up and say, ‘We can do this, and this is how we're going to get it done.’ Instead, we got a Prime Minister who had to check the polling before he’d even attend the most important climate summit since Paris, delivering a plan that the New York Times calls “hard to believe”.
Compare Mr Morrison’s plan and announcement to this speech made by Bob Hawke in 1989, announcing Australia’s plan to protect Antarctica from mining.
“Antarctica provides the habitat for and sustains many living species, on its shores and in the teeming oceans that surround it.
Even more importantly, it plays a crucial role in global climate matters, influencing our weather, the ocean currents and sea level. It is also our most valuable laboratory for measuring the greenhouse effect and changes in the thickness of the ozone layer. For all the strength of natural forces at play there, the Antarctic environment is paradoxically fragile. Upsetting this delicate balance could threaten changes that would alter the world in quite dramatic ways.
We must therefore preserve the Antarctic environment. The question is how best to do it.
The most urgent and relevant action we can take is to ensure that this irreplaceable environment is never put at risk by mining. That is why Australia has decided not to sign the Minerals Convention.”
Actual mention of climate matters. Of sea level change. Of greenhouse gases. Of the fragile environment. And an actual resolve and an actual plan to do something about it.
This was over 30 years ago, and it shows how far backwards we’ve gone.
We need leaders that show actual leadership. Not leaders that game the system to get to net zero on paper, a generation too late. Businesses are crying out for this leadership, and for real goals and legislation. If the government's gaming the system, then of course business is going to do that as well. Set us a goal. Set us a challenge. We’re up for it.
Business is about being opportunistic and innovating. Because if there's one thing that can cope with incredible change, it's business. It's what business does. Instead, we have a government trying to protect old systems and structures. And it’s too late for that.