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And then net zero came along

Good morning, early birds. Australia will reportedly need to slash our emissions by 47% by 2030 to meet the UN climate summit's goal, and the NSW Coalition faces further challenges following the resignation of a fourth MP. It's the news you need to know, with Emma Elsworthy.

Scott Morrison coal climate emergency
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

EMISSION STATEMENT

Australia will reportedly need to slash our emissions by 47% by 2030 to meet the UN climate summit’s goal, the SMH’s analysis shows. The UN’s António Guterres said forecasts would not be enough for leaders attending the summit, beginning November 1. “National pledges must collectively put us on track to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels,” he told a meeting of national finance ministers, according to the UN. Australia’s meagre commitment remains a 26-28% reduction in emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, as the ABC reports, but the government’s new target could “range between 32 and 36%” The Australian ($) understands.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is yet to finalise the net zero deal with the Nationals — Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce will be taking policy options to a party meeting on Sunday. But the Oz ($) says Morrison doesn’t actually need a consensus — he could make the net zero declaration as a majority decision of his cabinet if the Nats refuse to budge.

So what’s their problem? The Nats claim net zero will penalise regional jobs, power prices, and industries, as ABC’s David Speers writes this morning. Agriculture comprised about 18% of Australia’s emissions in 2019, the AFR reports, and their emissions are on the rise. But the Fin’s Aaron Patrick argues that the “struggling farmers” argument is “dubious” — he says rural economies are booming, naming record-high cattle prices and rising wheat and canola prices. Besides, Speers continues, the National Farmers’ Federation and the Cattle Council have both already backed net zero.

HEAVY QUITTERS

Newbie Premier Dominic Perrottet now faces four popularity tests after another NSW Coalition MP resigned, the SMH reports. Liberal MP Melanie Gibbons walked yesterday from her marginal seat of Holsworthy in Sydney’s southwest, making her the fourth MP in a fortnight to do so. That means at least four byelections — Willoughby (former premier Gladys Berejiklian’s seat), Monaro (former Nats leader John Barilaro’s), Bega (former Transport minister Andrew Constance’s) and now Holsworthy.

Gibbons, like her colleague Constance, is taking a run at a federal seat instead — independent Craig Kelly’s seat of Hughes. Could it be personal? Gibbons’ partner Kent Johns tried his hand at Hughes in 2018, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison intervened to make sure Kelly was preselected instead, as The Leader reported at the time. Rumours of Berejiklian taking a spin at federal politics have gone quiet as the former premier faces her impending corruption enquiry — yesterday former premier Mike Baird and Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres were named as witnesses, The Australian ($) reports.

SPILLING THE TEA

Emails show for the first time the depth of dismay after Defence Minister Peter Dutton banned a departmental morning tea that shows support for LGBTIQ employees because he did not want to pursue a “woke agenda”, The Age reports. Through freedom of information requests, the paper saw several emails from “offended” senior Defence officials who described distressed staff members. Indeed one official said the order “further concretes my decision to leave Defence”, while another asked whether the department would do likewise for ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day events.

The morning tea ban was particularly bitter, the paper continues, as Defence’s leadership had earlier sent a note encouraging staff to mark the morning tea, held on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia by wearing rainbow clothing and ally badges. “Examples for activity include hosting morning teas, encouraging discussions regarding the importance of IDAHOBIT, raising awareness of LGBTI rights and wearing visible rainbow clothing or ally pins,” an earlier email to staff read.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Chalk it up to pandemic existentialism, billionaires’ boredom, or plain old well-funded science, but space is having something of a renaissance. Star Trek’s William Shatner blasted into space overnight, making him the oldest person — at 90 — to do so, as BBC reports. He went on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, but it’s not just reserved for the stars — British entrepreneur Richard Branson is offering rides in his Virgin Galactic rocket plane, and Elon Musk’s Dragon capsule will send people orbital, to circle the Earth for several days — if you’ve got the dosh.

Perhaps we should enjoy space while we can: in the far distant future, Earth will be incinerated by the unimaginable force of our sun exploding, after all. But we could survive if we simply pack up and move — to Jupiter. The New York Times reports that a far-away planet is orbiting an exploded sun (known as a white dwarf) from about the same distance away as Jupiter. Scientists reckon it means inner planets would almost certainly be incinerated by the blast, but planets like Jupiter could survive — with us on them. What’s even cooler, scientist Lisa Kaltenegger says, is that after a sun explosion, a “second genesis” of life is possible as the dust settles, raising mind-boggling questions about extraterrestrial life in our galaxy. At least we’ve got time to ponder them — about five billion years, scientists estimate.

Have a curious Thursday, folks.

If you’re feeling chatty, drop me a note – tell me what you like or loathe about the Worm, or what you’d like to see more of – [email protected]

SAY WHAT?

Carbon neutral is a catchphrase, it is a platitude. We need detail. We can’t use it to shut down everything … Are we going to shut down the dairy industry because [the cows] fart too much?

David Gillespie

The Nationals are continuing their will-they-wont-they taunts in regards to striking a Coalition deal to commit Australia to net zero by 2050 — a fairly conservative target that could be “too little too late” to thwart the dire consequences of climate change anyway — while the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, the EU, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Japan, South Korea, and South Africa have all boosted their climate change commitments.

CRIKEY RECAP

Morrison’s political deeds must be seen through a godly lens

Morrison has said he was called by God to be prime minister, according to former Hillsong pastor Joel A’Bell who was Morrison’s confidante before he entered Parliament. He has reinforced this on several occasions saying God gave him a sign on the campaign trail in 2019 that he should keep going, against the odds. He has also adopted a key biblical phrase, ‘for such a time as this’, to mark himself out as having a duty to act.

“Morrison has adopted the Pentecostal story that Australia will be the place from which a worldwide Christian revival is launched. His mentor, Pastor Brian Houston, has said the same. The fact that the prime minister believes he has divine authority may insulate him from a sense of needing to account to any secular authority for his actions. In other words, what he does is right because God is in charge and God chose him to run the country.”


Rort? Who cares? Not even an official audit is enough to stop the pork

“Is there anything more brazen than pouring money into a grants scheme that is already being investigated for rorting? The Building Better Regions fund is being audited by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) over whether funding was consistent with the Commonwealth’s grant rules.

“But that hasn’t stopped the National Party from topping up the scheme, and bragging about how much control it had over the money via a colour-coded spreadsheet. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce announced another $100 million for the fund this week, saying he didn’t care if the scheme was labelled pork-barrelling. Now one of his colleagues has openly discussed on radio how the scheme could apparently be rorted.”


Australians don’t have much time for US adventures — doubly so when it comes to Taiwan

“But those expressions of imperial fealty are really just a subset of a more overarching loyalty to the West, as represented by the participants in the AUKUS alliance, with us as the junior and wholly expendable element. There’s a whole crowd of them on the right, from the Anglomorphs, who believe that only English-derived political entities should run the world, to ‘clash-of-civilisations’ secular supremacists, and sheer political opportunists who would trash tenuous regional dialogue for a wedge.

“Mr Tony’s of the other school: the idea that the clash between the West and China is of cosmic significance, of the godly versus the un-godly. With that mindset, taken from the Cold War Catholic right, he is comfortable and relaxed about increasing regional tensions with a country we are hopelessly outclassed by, militarily.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Migration boost needed to remedy major skilled labour shortfalls, report finds (SBS)

‘Time to go hard’ on rule-breakers says epidemiologist Rod Jackson (NZ Herald)

Hurricane Pamela makes landfall on Mexico’s west coast (Al Jazeera)

This pristine beach is one of Japan’s last. Soon it will be filled with concrete. (The New York Times)

Post-COVID global economy falters due to inflation and supply-chain woes (The Wall Street Journal)

Russia denies weaponising energy amid Europe gas crisis (BBC)

Chile opposition moves to impeach president over Pandora leaks (Al Jazeera)

UK MP Claudia Webbe found guilty of harassment (The Guardian)

Paul McCartney says the Rolling Stones are ‘a blues cover band’ (CNN)

US to reopen Mexico Canada land borders for fully vaccinated travellers (BBC)

Belarus regime ‘has used football as propaganda’ (The Guardian)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Why vaccination presents an ethical dilemma for us, but remains the best way to keep our families safeNayuka Gorrie (IndigenousX): “Colonialism and white supremacy have rendered Black and Indigenous bodies disposable and lacking in agency: Terra Nullius. Our bodies, in death, were and still are not seen as ours – we were free or cheap labour, sexual property, a specimen for experimentation and/or control by the medical industry. Throughout the so-called ‘Western world’, Black and Indigenous bodies have borne the brunt of medical advancement.

“I understand the hesitancy from blackfullas — on what grounds are we expected to trust the government? When have they ever acted in our best interests? Despite all this, I got the vaccine … knowing the history of the ways our bodies have been abused and used, I know that still, the vaccine is the best way I can keep my family and community safe. To reject this free vaccine feels like wasting a privilege and an affront to my ancestors who died from immunisable illnesses. It also feels like a slap in the face to all of our mob breaking their backs in the health sector treating our sick and working to keep us safe.”

Academic freedom recognised but sacked scientist fails in bid to be reinstatedAdrienne Stone (Brisbane Times): “From this perspective, the history of the Ridd case was dispiriting. Ridd was sanctioned and eventually terminated for criticisms he made of colleagues during scientific dispute about the effect of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef, a matter on which he holds unorthodox views. The dispute was highly personal and unpleasant, but it was, at bottom, a dispute between scientists about science …

“The High Court’s decision yesterday is a full-throated defence of these ideas. In a unanimous decision, the Court explicitly recognises the relevance of academic freedom to the dispute and concludes, relying upon legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin, that ‘academic freedom must permit expression that departs from norms of civility required elsewhere’. In light of these ringing statements, why did Professor Ridd’s case fail? The answer is complex but, in short, Ridd was sanctioned not only for his disrespect of colleagues but also for violating confidentiality obligations applicable to the disciplinary proceedings against him.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Mining billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest will address the National Press Club, held online.

  • Parliamentary Friends of Health and Medical Research’s Katie Allen, Young Australian of the Year Isobel Marshall, and Indigenous Women’s Health’s Kerrie Doyle will be among the speakers on a Monash University panel that will delve into women’s health and careers post-pandemic, held online.

  • Comedian Sami Shah will speak to satirist David Sedaris about the latter’s new book, A Carnival of Snackery. You can catch this one online for the next seven days.

  • Monash University’s Graeme Davison will speak to author Janet McCalman about her new book, Vandemonians: The Repressed History of Colonial Victoria, held online.

  • The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies will present achievements, major research and future directions for our coral reefs, held online.

Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)

  • Former treasurer and Future Fund chair Peter Costello will speak at the MiningNews Investor Conference. You can also catch this one online.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • The launch of the 2021 Queensland Major Projects Pipeline Report will take place at the Hilton Hotel Brisbane.

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