An Inconvenient Strewth? 4 things you should know about the Palmer-Gore climate speech

Watching last night’s press conference with Clive Palmer and Al Gore on climate change was one of the more bizarre moments I’ve witnessed in Australian politics.


We won’t know exactly what Clive’s announcements mean for a little while yet. Based on past experience, what he said last night might not be his view tomorrow – he likes to be a ‘man of mystery’ after all. This is what we think his latest speech means for climate politics in Australia.

1. Palmer United Party will vote to abolish the carbon tax

This is not a good thing. It would make Australia the first country in the world actually get rid of a price on carbon. It’s been proven to work at reducing emissions, so it makes no sense to scrap it now.

This part of his announcement is a step backwards for tackling climate change.

2. Palmer will vote down changes to the Renewable Energy Target,  the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority

While it’s great to hear Palmer attack Abbott’s plans to completely dismantle Australia’s clean energy laws, the devil is in the detail. He only promised to protect the Renewable Energy Target (RET) until the 2016 election.

This is not good enough. The RET needs to be guaranteed until 2030 to give clean energy investors and developers the confidence to take part. What’s more, Palmer has a history of breaking his word when it comes to renewables. In fact, his infamous U-turn during the WA Election Campaign saw him contradict one of his own candidates over making the RET mandatory.

Nevertheless, target is still under threat. The Abbott Government is currently conducting a ‘review’. This could be a pretext to scrapping it, particularly given they gave the job of running the review to a climate sceptic.

Meanwhile, the lobbyists for ‘The Dirty Three’ energy companies – Origin Energy, AGL and Energy Australia – continue lobbying politicians to tear up the RET. They’re doing all they can to create uncertainty about its future, which kills off investment and makes the target harder to achieve.

This part of Clive’s announcement is a step forward. It’s still crucial to keep the pressure on our politicians, especially Palmer, to keep their hands off the RET for good.

3. Palmer won’t support the Direct Action climate plan

He called it a “a waste of money”. He said he’ll instead introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme with a zero price on carbon while waiting for other countries to take action. But – and here’s the catch – he’ll attach this as an amendment to the bill to repeal the Climate Change Authority, which he has said he will vote down.

The bill will no doubt be defeated in the Senate. It seems likely the government will not proceed with it and this trading scheme will not proceed.

This is not good enough. While politicians tinker with policy mechanisms, the planet gets hotter. Australia needs a credible climate policy right now.

The Direct Action Plan wasn’t good enough, and neither are Palmer’s plans. Australia is the most vulnerable developed country to the impacts of climate change, so sitting by and waiting for others to act is simply not in the national interest.

4. What he should have said

What Palmer didn’t say last night is that he is still pushing ahead to develop a mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland. Building the port to export Clive’s coal will involve dredging and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and the coal will be exported through the Great Barrier Reef.

If this mine gets built, it will also make other mega-mines in the Galilee more likely to go ahead. Australia’s coal exports are the country’s biggest contribution to climate change. It doesn’t make any sense for Palmer to make these announcements about climate change while actively making the problem worse.

If Clive Palmer truly meant what he said last night about climate change, then he’d scrap his plans to build a giant coal mine.

  • Paul Sims

    The price on carbon has to stay, but moreover it needs to be applied directly to the material used to generate our Nation’s electricity … so, a hugh tax on coal and gas. The Renewable Energy Target has to stay. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has to stay. What does Australia really want? To be taken forward towards a self-sustainable, renewable energy future. Will this come by way of LNP or PUP … no. The only way forward is to vote in Green.

  • MrMauricio

    Palmer has put himself out there-he is now accountable-he has to deliver or die politically!!

  • George Costich

    If Al Gore had had any Idea of what this Lying Idiot’s Real Plans are – He would Never have gone into the Room!

    • Michael Tucker

      Strange thing is Al Gore is already in on what Palmer wants to do.
      Easy to fly in a puppet to help bolster his(Palmer’s) position.

  • I just feel like we can’t trust him. Lots of confusion in what he says / doesn’t say.

  • Ms Hosking

    Palmer is just another Polly. He loves the attention and being in the news by turning up to parliament in a different car every day just to get on the nightly news. What is different with his last stint. We all know pollies are good at telling the truth. Tony Abbott comes to mind with his latest budget. Let’s hope that he can force the government to do something about clean engery.

  • Mart

    Nice summary Jessica. You’re one of very few journalists who immediately spotted and highlighted the fact that Clive is linking his ETS to a bill that he’s voting against. Tony Jones almost got there but on Lateline but the absurdity of it messed with his head and he ended up thinking he must have misunderstood!

  • Janene Mannerheim

    Spot on Jessica. It has ALMOST been obvious that CP wants to get a rail line to the Q coast to expedite his exports. The last thing the GBR needs. He will no doubt chop & change what he proposes to manipulate parliament & the people to get what he wants. To climb up the 50 richest ladder. In the meantime enjoying his celebrity. We have to tell politicians what Australia (& this planet) need. Not what they want.

  • Scott Cumberland

    Horrid Hitman of the investor,hurry up and die of old age you fkn destructive dinosaur.