Opinion Piece - Climate Wars Not Over Yet - Friday, 12 February 2021

Opinion Piece - Climate Wars Not Over Yet - Friday, 12 February 2021 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

12 February 2021

It seems the Climate Wars have taken a nasty turn for Field Marshal Scott Morrison. He and the Blue Army he leads now find themselves fighting on a number of fronts. History tells us that's never a good thing. He understands this, there can be little doubt.

For the first time in 20 years, most of the climate change focus is now on the Liberal and National Parties. There are a number of reasons for this. First, Labor has dropped its unrealistic and electorally damaging 45 per cent greenhouse gas emissions reduction target.

Second, Labor has refused to be sucked into embracing a medium-term target, despite the best efforts of its enemies. As a result, Labor is no longer a big target itself. The party has addressed a too often exposed vulnerability on its right flank.

Third, the 2050 net zero emissions target now enjoys almost universal support. Governments around the world protect it from afar like artillery guns at the ready.

At home, captains of industry, farm groups and state premiers provide close air support. While climate change policy remains a difficult battleground, opposing net zero emissions is now a bit like opposing world peace.

Yet this Climate Wars armistice is provoking a new insurgency. The progressive foot soldiers on the Field Marshal's backbench are growing more bold and more aggressive by the day. They no longer follow their battleground leaders. Rather, they are marching to the tune of the emails they're receiving from the doctors' wives and other local constituents.

Each day Morrison seeks to draw fire from the Labor Red Army. A shot here, a propaganda-drop there, a photo-op everywhere. Surely, he thinks, the enemy will be drawn out. Yet General Albanese sits pat. Rightly so.

Meanwhile, some of the combat troops of Morrison's key ally and partner are rebelling. Privates Matt Canavan and Barnaby Joyce are not happy. Not with Field Marshal Morrison, and not with their own Weatherboard and Iron Army leader General Michael McCormack.

A blue-on-green firefight is looking increasingly likely. They are asking the obvious question: how did we lose so much political ground? If we can't win an election on climate change, what's left?

Out of frustration, these Akubra wearing rebels have opened a new front with a plan based on deception. Their strategy lacks logic but to them that never matters, this is a psychological warfare operation.

Such operations seek to convey selected information to target audiences in an attempt to influence their emotions, objective reasoning, and in turn, their influence on governments and organisations. It's a neat fit.

The rebels have studied Sun Tzu's Art of War and they know their enemy: "If your opponent is of choleric temper, try to irritate him. If he is arrogant, try to encourage his egotism. If the enemy troops are well prepared after reorganisation, try to wear them down. If they are united, try to sow dissension among them".

This is the rebels' plan for Scott Morrison. Their battle ground is, in part, the more remote parts of Field Marshall Morrison's own civilian population, a community worn down by years of climate warfare.

Morrison's own lieutenants are also in the rebels' sights, but a key a question is emerging: could this be come a case of mutually assured destruction?

The rebels have created a fiction, a common tactic in psychological warfare. They are insisting regional populations be excluded from Morrison's somewhat premature post-war reconstruction plan. But the populace is asking: excluded from what? Or do the rebels know something we don't?

Field Marshal Morrison has promised there will be no carbon tax in the post-Climate Wars reconstruction plan. Not at least beyond his existing Safeguards Mechanism, which imposes a carbon tax on the biggest polluters only.

Rather, he says he's sticking with the so-called "technology pathway", which uses taxpayers' money to encourage research, innovation, and the development of technologies which both reduce and capture emissions.

Surely that's not what the rebels want the farmers exempted from? That would be crazy.

Net zero emissions is about putting no more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere than we are taking out. The land sector is well placed to both reduce and capture emissions, the latter by improving ground cover, planting trees and improving soil quality and the former by reducing methane emissions from cattle and improving fuel efficiency.

For all of these things and more, our farmers and foresters will be rewarded by those looking for carbon offsets and carbon neutral products.

Rather than successfully progressing their revolution, the rebels risk an insurrection against themselves. Most likely lead by the combative, pitchfork-wielding National Farmers Front.

The Red Army now sits and waits patiently.

Field Marshal Morrison has lost the initiative and a truce is near.

When it finally comes, we can all make our way to net zero emissions in an orderly and bipartisan way. The planet will thank us, and so too will the workers, happy in the security of their blue-collar jobs.