Scott Morrison climate change
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Scott Morrison, it seems, has found a new way to talk about how the Coalition has overseen a dramatic rise in Australia’s carbon emissions. Our surging emissions, which means we will massively exceed our Paris Agreement targets, are in fact fixing a “climate deficit” the government inherited from Labor.

Delivering a formal speech in Brisbane yesterday, the Prime Minister argued:

I can tell you that it wasn’t just a budget deficit that we encountered when we came to government in 2013. We came into government and faced a climate deficit when we came to government. When we came to government to meet our Kyoto 2020 targets, we were more than 700 million tonnes behind the game… In the space of that last five and a half years, we’ve turned that around.

Of course, the government is using a special exemption for Australia to claim it met its first and will meet its second Kyoto target. But we’re fascinated by Morrison’s claims that he inherited a “climate deficit”.

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Let’s examine the most recent data on carbon emissions from Morrison’s own bureaucrats, snuck out last year. And indeed, it shows Australia’s emissions falling alarmingly under Labor, to below 130 Mt of CO2-equivalent every quarter under Labor’s carbon pricing scheme. But the Coalition has indeed turned that around and, having abolished Labor’s carbon pricing scheme and removed its dead hand from our emissions, it has lifted Australia’s emissions back up to nearly 135 Mt every quarter.

Of course, that’s not necessarily what Tony Abbott signed us up for as part of the Paris Agreement — we’re supposed to be on track to reducing emissions to below 112 Mt a quarter within 11 years. But since, as we’re told, fixing deficits is in the Liberal Party’s DNA, our kids and grandkids will just have to look after themselves.