The World Meteorological Organisation says that the most recent decade “has been the warmest since records began 160 years ago.”

Tony Abbott says yesterday that “the world’s warming has stopped.”

It’s seems almost certain that climate change will be a major political battleground throughout the coming election year.

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 Arguments about the effectiveness and impact of the government’s CPRS will run alongside arguments about whether the Liberals really believe action needs to be taken to try to avoid climate change. We will have a (hopefully better informed) rerun of some of the arguments about whether a carbon tax is better than an Emissions Trading Scheme, and how an effective ETS should be structured.

Tony Abbott’s apparent strategy of wildly swinging punches from all directions might sound hard to counter, but the trouble with throwing ill-diected verbal punches over a prolonged period is you can easily end up clobbering yourself or your team-mates. Mr Abbott may have a reputation as someone who says what he thinks, but if the things he says one week contradict the things he says the following week, he’ll have trouble convincing anyone that he’s genuine in what he says.

Barnaby Joyce might be an ‘effective retail politician’ with an endless array of colourful phrases for the media to enjoy, but I believe most people feel more reassured by economic policy that is measured and sound, rather than entertaining. There is already a perception – fair or otherwise – that Joe Hockey has had trouble making an impact as Shadow Treasurer.  If his new Finance Minister focuses mostly on throwing insults, it might keep his base entertained, but I think it will make it difficult to attract unaligned voters.

Creating a perception of responsible policies on climate change and responsible policies for the economy will be the big political test for 2010. A position of denying climate change while spending significant amounts of public money allegedly aimed at very small reductions in greenhouse is unlikely to succeed on either front.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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