John Howard is a famously voracious consumer of media offerings, but as he contemplated today’s industrial relations backflip during the morning walk, his looming political crisis over climate change scepticism would have been front and centre.

The AFR’s influential Chanticleer columnist, John Durie, has been in New York all week talking to a range of people, including executives from News Corp. His lead item today again reiterated the huge backflip that Rupert has made in response to the carbon neutral policies pursued by his son James at BskyB and the presence of Al Gore at his recent Pebble Beach management conference.

Rupert is now completely on-song with the need for urgent climate change action and when that translates to editorial posturing by his Australian newspaper stable, the PM will have a huge political problem.

If that wasn’t enough to scare the world’s most laggard leader on climate change, Richard Branson popped up on the PM’s favourite breakfast program, Radio National’s Fran Kelly, after unveiling a pledge to invest $3 billion into renewable energy in front of Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch and Al Gore in New York.

Knowing that Howard would have been listening through his earpiece at 6.40am, Branson let fly at Australia’s head-in-the-sand approach and sought to isolate the fossil fuel industries which have so captured Federal Government environment policy. Branson’s airlines are big carbon emitters, so this is a big moment in the debate.

After refusing to see Gore during his recent visit, the PM has now agreed to watch An Inconvenient Truth. Surely that will be just be the first of many backflips that will extend his green credentials well beyond a pro-uranium policy.

Howard’s skepticism extends to the Victorian Liberals after Ted Baillieu damaged his green credentials by telling The Sunday Age last week:  

I think there is climate change about us … I am not wise enough to conclude as to what causes the climate change.

If Liberals across the country had any sense, they would get with the program. Al Gore has created a phenomenal publicity machine and now the world’s biggest corporate media tart and the world’s most powerful media mogul are both on board. No politician interested in winning should get in the way of this juggernaut.

Peter Fray

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