(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

Another day, another climate lie from Scott Morrison.

In the latest budget drop, the government says it will spend $275.5 million on developing as-yet commercially unproven hydrogen production, and another $263.7 million on carbon capture and storage (CCS).

That is — putting aside the push from fossil fuel companies to power hydrogen production — another quarter of a billion dollars to be wasted on CCS, a discredited scam run by fossil fuel companies as a delaying mechanism to prevent serious climate action.

More than $1.3 billion in taxpayer funds have already been wasted on CCS under both sides of politics so far this century.

Morrison targeted his announcement at regional jobs, meaning he’s the third behind NSW’s Matt Kean and the federal opposition to start talking about the opportunities for jobs growth in climate action, especially in regional areas. Only, Morrison’s idea of climate action is handing more money to his fossil fuel donors.

It was a continuation of the lies from Morrison’s “wine bar” speech to the champagne-swilling business elites of the Business Council of Australia annual dinner on Monday night, when he cherrypicked an array of statistics to claim Australia was actually a world leader on emissions reduction. “We are leading the way,” Morrison said, with a straight face. “Our domestic emissions have already fallen by 36% from 2005 levels. That sounds to me like Australia doing its heavy lifting.”

A lot of political journalists continue to credulously report this stuff, along with the lie that Morrison is somehow moving to a 2050 net zero target — something wholly inadequate in any event for addressing accelerating climate change.

Calls of BS getting louder

Outside a compliant press gallery, though, the calls of bullshit are becoming louder. Tony Boyd at the Financial Review devoted an entire column today to forensically demonstrating the flaws in Morrison’s cherrypicking — and inconsistency with his own government’s figures. Those figures show that the bulk of the fall in Australia’s emissions since 2005 occurred between 2008 and 2014, when Morrison and his colleagues repealed Labor’s highly successful carbon pricing scheme.

Thereafter, until the pandemic (which caused a worldwide decline in emissions that is now being reversed), emissions fell almost entirely as a result of the uptake of renewables in the energy sector driven by state and territory governments — something the Abbott government opposed, the Turnbull government briefly supported, and which the Morrison government, with its fixation on rewarding the Liberals’ fossil fuel donors, does not support.

Morrison’s energy priority has been to fund a study of a new coal-fired power plant, encourage coal mining and fund a “gas-led recovery”, including building a new gas-fired power plant itself.

And Morrison, of course, focuses only on domestic emissions, not the colossal emissions we are responsible for in other countries through our coal exports. Even his own government recognises that Australia’s coal exports are a contributor to catastrophic climate change, though it refuses to accept any responsibility to prevent that.

And none of Morrison’s lies change the fact that Australia remains, behind the oil sheikdoms, the world’s largest per capita emitter of greenhouse emissions.

As Boyd noted, a 2050 target is now irrelevant. 2030 is the target for climate action now as world leaders prepare for this week’s Biden-led summit and the end-of-year climate conference in Glasgow. The days of pushing off climate action into the political never-never came to an end with the presidency of Morrison’s friend Donald Trump.

This means more than Australia’s continuing role as a global block to climate action, up with the Saudis, the Russians and other climate criminals. It means the forfeiting of opportunities in the boom industries of renewables and replacement technologies for fossil fuels. Morrison is trying to prop up carbon capture and storage while the world still spent — despite the pandemic — more than $300 billion in renewables investment in 2020 and major mining companies are literally paying others to take coal mines off their hands.

The press gallery may be deluded about Morrison’s coal credentials but chances are the rest of the world won’t be fooled for a second. Australia is a climate criminal, and should be treated as such.