Long time Howard supporter and federal member for Tangney Dennis Jensen this morning hung out his — and perhaps his party’s — climate change scepticism for all to see. When asked on ABC Radio if there was any need to reduce greenhouse emissions, he responded:
My personal view right at the moment having a look at the science is “No”. However I do think that you need to tackle emissions generally, and here I am talking about all sorts of emissions – sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, and so on. On greenhouse per se, I’m not convinced about that.
If that’s embarrassing for the government, it has only itself to blame. When Jensen lost Liberal preselection last year, Crikey understands it was John Howard who instructed the Liberal Party federal executive to re-select him.
That was mid 2006, months before Howard performed his show-stopping climate change backflip. Who’d have thought the day would come where Jensen’s view would contradict the people’s, and, increasingly, the government’s?
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Indeed, Howard was repaying a philosophical ally. Jensen is an enthusiastic supporter of an Australian nuclear power industry — he has a PhD in nuclear physics. He was also the dignitary who launched the Lavoisier Group’s Nine Facts About Climate Change, a pamphlet which disputes, among other things, the human contribution to climate change.
Which means Jensen’s comments this morning were entirely predictable. They may be amplified later today when the House of Reps Standing Committee on Science and Innovation delivers Geosequestration: The science and application of carbon capture and storage, a report expected to contain a number of hostile views from within the government on the science and politics of climate change.
Howard has learned it’s not easy being green, especially when your own people won’t stay on message. If Jensen and others today undermine the PM’s burgeoning climate change credibility, will he trace it back to a decision made this time last year, when climate sceptics were not the pariahs of populist politics?