You can’t say the Coalition aren’t focussed on environmental issues. In yesterday’s joint party meeting they talked about concerns about an emissions trading scheme, the issue of forests as carbon sinks, and the Murray-Darling Basin. In fact, environmental issues dominated the discussion from the floor. The climate change denialists were also at play, calling for the need for a proper scientific debate on the issue.

(Ever notice that about greenhouse sceptics? They always want a “real” scientific debate, because they’ve lost the existing debate. The “real” debate, presumably, was the one they tried to perpetuate in the 1990s, when biased research and fiddling with the numbers was de rigueur among opponents of climate change action.)

For a long time the resources sector was complicit in this obfuscation — if it didn’t fund it outright. But that began to change quite a while ago. And now the Australian Coal Association has made its views on the subject clear, in a way every climate change sceptic in Parliament — and there are plenty in ALP ranks as well – should look hard at.

The ACA has launched a new website on carbon capture technologies. The Association is blunt about climate change. “Climate change isn’t just happening,” it says. “Many scientists think it’s accelerating.”

The Association obviously has an interest in promoting the development of carbon capture technologies. It is joined at the hip to the Government on that score — the Prime Minister and Martin Ferguson have announced a number of initiatives already this year. The site is directly aimed at raising awareness of carbon capture technologies that remain unproven.

But the bluntness with which a bunch of resources companies both acknowledge the dire climate change situation we face and the contribution of their primary product to it is refreshing.

It also stands in dire contrast to the campaign by the American coal industry. Anyone who tuned into the US election debates will have endured those tortuous ads for “clean coal” from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which more or less suggested anyone who didn’t like coal was un-American. The local industry has finally abandoned the slogan “clean coal” (Greenpeace has declared itself “bemused” by that), in favour of a “new generation” of coal technologies. Less oxymoronic, more Pepsi.

The campaign strategy was developed by Neil Lawrence, the STW advertising guru behind “Kevin07” and Labor’s election campaign. While the scientific talking heads in the video content aren’t exactly charismatic, the fact-based approach is a huge step forward and about time.

Those convinced climate change is some left-wing scam would do well to click over to what our biggest polluting industries are saying.

Peter Fray

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