I have worked hard, over time, to ensure this is a non-partisan blog. By that I mean, the messages I have are for all players, and I don’t actually care who is running the country.

However it is not, and never will be, a politically disinterested blog. I care, very much, how the country is being run, no matter by whom.

I have made strident criticisms of Labor, Liberal and Green parties as and where they deserve it. I have expressed my intention to seek climate advantage from the current Government. Today however, criticism again flows to the Liberals.

Today, it has been reported that Treasurer Joe Hockey gave a scathing dismissal of a question relating to Australia as among the highest GHG emitters in the OECD. This from The Guardian

“The comment you just made is absolutely ridiculous,” the treasurer said in an interview with the BBC when it was suggested to him that Australia was among “the dirtiest, most greenhouse gas-emitting countries in the OECD group of developed countries”.

“We’ve got a small population and very large land mass and we are an exporter of energy, so that measurement is a falsehood in a sense because it does not properly reflect exactly what our economy is,” Hockey said.

“Australia is a significant exporter of energy and, in fact, when it comes to coal we produce some of the cleanest coal, if that term can be used, the cleanest coal in the world.”

The Treasurer is wrong and there is no need for nuance in saying so.

Australia’s ranking in the OECD excludes the emissions from our energy exports, in the same way that they exclude the embodied emissions in our imports from China.

If we counted that thermal coal export in our emissions… as you can see below, we export five times the energy in black coal than we consume domestically

As Australia’s Treasurer, this type of mistake can only come from inexcusable disinterest in the topic.

It may be true that those who care not at all about climate change can still build nuclear power plants and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

But it makes it a damn sight less likely.



  1. Accidental negative in the penultimate sentence?

    Otherwise, I agree. It seems that global warming issues have become toxic topics, shunned by many political parties because it is “too hard” or actively ignored for reasons I cannot accept.

    When I heard it this morning, I wondered why Joe Hockey didn’t have a much better answer to the question. “Disinterested” doesn’t seem to be an adequate excuse.

  2. Wikipedia reckons our per capita emissions are 18-19 tonnes a year. For 2012 using National Greenhouse Inventory and ABS figures I get roughly
    555 Mt/ 22.5m pop = 24.7 tonnes of CO2e per man, woman and child. Whatever the figure Aussies are A grade bullshitters when it comes to claiming to care about emissions. Some are now supporting Direct Action and an extended RET to get us to a whopping 5% emissions reduction 2000-2020. If we don’t achieve that magnificent result we can always buy international permits for 50c a tonne of CO2. Pathetic.

    On carbon exports and offshoring of dirty industry some think we should should have carbon tariffs. Recall until recently steel mills and aluminium smelters got 94.5% carbon tax exemption. Slap a carbon tariff on goods made in India or China so when they buy our thermal coal, coking coal, iron ore and alumina it doesn’t dodge carbon penalties when returned as products. In the case of Whyalla SA I believe about 10X as much iron ore is now exported as is used in the steel mill. Going to places where they don’t talk about those pesky carbon constraints.

  3. Maybe journalists should be asking these questions of the advisers and those people who inform Ministers of particular topics?

    They’d get a more concrete answer.

    1. Or the man supposedly in charge of the economy could, ya know, appraise himself of the very basics that I would scold an undergraduate for fucking up so as to not make a total dick of himself and embarrass the rest of us all at once.

      Hardly a high standard required.

      1. Fair enough. I do wonder though would Greg Hunt have made the same mistake as it is portfolio responsibility. From experience there are times when a Minister would say one thing incorrectly and their Chief of Staff/Media or Policy Officer will issue a clarifying note after the comment.

        Maybe there should be an independent body of University professors and lecturers expert in particular fields marking policies as if they were an assignment. Judging composition, argument, knowledge, and delivery.

  4. Apart from Hockey’s numerical inexactitude we had the PM open a new coal mine saying ‘coal is good for humanity’. Could the government be doing any more to help coal? Reef dredging, exports of already short supplied gas, repeal of carbon tax. Politicians are using the release from poverty argument particularly for coal exports to India. I wonder how that sits with the 100% renewables crowd. If as we are assured getting to 100% renewable is a doddle surely India can do it also. Perhaps India doesn’t have the luxury of middle class fantasies like Germany and Australia.

  5. D Day looms closer for SA gas supply, where D is for diversion perhaps. They’ve just tested the pumps that will take Cooper Basin gas to the LNG plant nearing completion in Gladstone Qld
    That plant and two others are expected to export two thirds of east Australian gas production at substantially higher prices than the recent local market. SA generated 52% of its electricity from burning natural gas in 2013. It is expected SA will import more brown coal power from Victoria rather than burn high priced gas.

    Also I see SA parliament wants sellers of hand guns to be liable for crimes committed by the buyers. Applied to coal and LNG exports we must take some blame for the CO2 generated elsewhere. They used the harmful product we supplied it. It means Mr Hockey that Australia is an even worse carbon culprit than you want to deny.

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