20 December 2017

Have you ever been through a long, boring consultation process where you ended up exactly where you started?

You’re not alone. The entire country was recently subjected to a painful non-binding postal survey that told us exactly what we already knew in the first place.

The Turnbull government is no stranger to pointless processes. If you’re the kind of person that likes getting paid for not doing any actual work (cue Dilbert), pointless processes are probably music to your ears.

Enter the recent review into how Australia can reduce pollution that causes damage to the Reef and the climate. After a whole year of submissions, focus groups, reports and (in all likelihood) a lot of Post-It notes, the government published a report that promised to do a sum total of nothing. The only meaningful recommendation was to develop a strategy to do something at an unspecified point in time in the future. Astonishingly, the report revealed current policies would reduce pollution by 5% by 2030 on 2005 levels, rather than the 26-28% often touted by government.

There are two important dates here:
2030: This is the date by which global carbon pollution must be zero to stay close to 1.5 degrees, if we want to still live in a world with coral reefs, flavoured beer and the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati (hot tip: we do).

2005: Why did the government pick 2005 as the starting year to measure pollution rather than the 1990 starting year that they used to use? Funnily enough, it’s because that happened to be a year with lots and lots of pollution. If you start from 1990, the prediction for 2030 is that pollution will not have changed one iota.

In many ways, this matters, because our government’s silliness is doing untold damage to our foreign relations with powerful Pacific nations, damage to our gorgeous Great Barrier Reef, to our tourism industries and (importantly, ahem) our wine and beer industries. It matters if you’ve ever looked into the eyes of a two-year-old child and found yourself furiously disagreeing with Matt Canavan’s claim that 2050 is less important than today.

In many other ways, though, it doesn’t matter at all. The world is rapidly changing. Businesses are adopting zero emissions strategies. ING is getting out of coal by 2025. The World Bank is getting out of oil and gas. Cities are going 100% renewable and communities are forging plans to power past dirty energy. Remember what happened when Donald Trump pulled out of the global climate treaty while saying “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris”? The mayor of Pittsburgh shot back: “We stand with the world and will follow the agreement.” Zing!

While a few politicians argue about knighthoods and what holiday greetings department secretaries should send to their staff, the rest of the nation is snickering at the government. Politicians who lie in bed dreaming of the stone age will soon find out what happens at the end of a long consultation: redundancy.

Pollution might be rising, but so are we. Your actions are changing the world, and those greedy few who choose to damage the future of that smiling two-year-old will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history!