In the make-believe world of politics, in which all utilities can be maximized simultaneously, and yes we’re going to keep saying it until everyone goes yeah yeah we get it, you can price fossil fuels out of reach without it hurting anyone. Thus from Australia, and more particularly The Australian, we read that the opposition Labor Party leader finally coughed up a climate plan that “will help to create jobs, cut power bills and reduce emissions.” Specifically “The Opposition Leader has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 if Labor wins the next election” and yet “Electricity prices will fall from the current level by $275 for households by 2025 at the end of our first term if we are successful”. There’s that all-important “if” again.
There is a rule, long familiar to us yet we cannot now lay our hands on the original version, that if enough people of intelligence and good will have looked for something long enough in a great many places and have not found it, the chances are good that it’s not there. Which brings us to the magic plans to make gasoline, natural gas and coal unaffordable without increasing the cost of living, thus saving us all from the climate crisis without any pain.
We do not wish to mock Anthony Albanese any more mercilessly than he deserves, since the Australian Labour leader is just the latest in a long parade of people across the political spectrum who have made vague promises of great things to come, spent a suspiciously long time getting the details together, then come up with something clearly impossible. On the other hand, he deserves as merciless a mocking as the others, and a bit more, because of the question: If they couldn’t, why can you?
Now they may object that they can. As we pointed out last week, when Canada’s federal environment commissioner gave the incumbent Liberals the knuckle-bone shampoo over their consistent failure to accomplish anything meaningful on climate and their fixation on sending words to do the work of deeds, they responded by saying yes, thank you, we are great. But here’s the mystery.
If they are, if their plan really is working, why didn’t the Australian Labour Party copy it? Why is everyone reinventing the wheel? You may recall that Naomi Oreskes raised eyebrows by saying, from the heart of the alarmist camp, that if the science is settled we should stop studying it and do what we know we should. And that we said she had a point.
If the science isn’t settled, stop saying it is. If the policy isn’t obvious, stop saying it is. And if it is settled on the one hand, and obvious on the other, stop prattling, delaying and promising and get to it.
Of course Albanese can’t do it unless and until his party wins power. Fair enough. But if you look at the climate policies of every nation from Britain to Germany to China to Japan to Ghana to Brazil to Saudi Arabia to Malaysia, and go around the globe again adding France and Thailand and Tunisia and Iceland and Eswatini, only two things can happen.
One is that you discover that a fair number of them found a plan that delivers painless gain so you should just copy it. And the other is that nobody did and there isn’t one.