Is climate change just an environmental or energy issue? Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey certainly think so, relying on that argument to try, unsuccessfully, to exile climate change from the G20 agenda altogether before retreating to allow it onto the “energy efficiency” agenda. Alas, they were routed altogether and it ended up dominating the meeting. Even so, they could be heard muttering darkly on the weekend, the real work of the G20 had nothing to do with global warming.

But let’s consult some experts on whether climate change is an economic issue or not. How about the International Monetary Fund? “Climate change is a powerful global trend that, along with trade and financial integration, is likely to have profound effects on economies and markets in coming decades,” the IMF said in a report as long ago as 2008. How “profound”? For that answer, we turn to the World Bank’s 2011 study on the economic impacts of climate change. “This initial study report … finds that the cost between 2010 and 2050 of adapting to an approximately 2 degrees warmer world by 2050 is in the range of $70 billion to $100 billion a year,” the Bank concluded.

Hmmm. But the World Bank and the IMF are both well-known dens of leftist lunacy, and it’s no surprise that they have signed up to the warmist conspiracy — all the easier for them to establish a socialist New World Order. What do some real conservatives say?

Well, there’s Germany’s conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel, who in 2009 said “climate change threatens both our security and our economic development. Failure to take decisive action will have a dramatic impact.” But despite Merkel’s free market credentials, she’s a former environment minister and a scientist. Science has a notorious reality bias. Worse yet, Merkel’s from the former East Germany.

How about a proper Tory like David Cameron? Just a couple of months ago, Cameron said “climate change is one of the most serious threats facing our world. And it is not just a threat to the environment. It is also a threat to our national security, to global security, to poverty eradication and to economic prosperity.” Then again, Cameron would say that, wouldn’t he — he’s in a coalition with Liberal Democrats. But the Conservative Party’s 2009 election platform specifically compared the problem of greenhouse gas emissions to the financial crisis.

“Just as the reckless accumulation of debt in our economy means higher taxes for the next generation; so the reckless accumulation of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will impose costs on our children and their children. Now that we know the scale of the risks we have created and are creating, it would be selfish, irresponsible and morally wrong not to act now to reduce our carbon emissions and do all we can to protect the future.”

Still, the UK Tories have never been the same since Thatcher left. If only the Iron Lady were still around to sort out these warmists. Oh, wait, she was one herself — famously saying “it is no good squabbling over who is responsible or who should pay. Whole areas of our planet could be subject to drought and starvation if the pattern of rains and monsoons were to change as a result of the destruction of forests and the accumulation of greenhouse gases. The environmental challenge which confronts the whole world demands an equivalent response from the whole world. Every country will be affected and no one can opt out.”

Well, it’s really only the Republicans in the US who can be trusted to give an unbiased account of whether climate change is real and whether it’s an economic issue. So let’s ask, say, George W. Bush’s treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, what he thinks.

“For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do. We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.”

Damn. OK so Paulson’s off the reservation. Surely there must be a voice of sanity on this issue somewhere? How about the Pentagon. Surely those brave fighting men don’t believe this warmist nonsense?

“As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, including growing, urbanizing, more affluent populations, and substantial economic growth in India, China, Brazil, and other nations, will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure … The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world.”

That just leaves Abbott and Hockey. Well, someone’s got to speak up for coal, don’t they?

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off