Australian news, and some related international items

‘Save the only planet we have’: Tony Abbott joins climate-sceptic think tank


The former Australian PM says he has joined the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK think tank founded by a ‘climate denier-in-chief’.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott, who once compared taking action on climate change with killing goats “to appease volcano gods”, has joined the board of a UK climate-sceptic think tank founded by a politician dubbed “the climate denier-in-chief”.

Abbott said he was pleased to join the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which “consistently injected a note of realism into the climate debate”, despite the charity spearheading the backlash against the UK government’s net-zero goal.

“All of us want to save the only planet we have, but this should not be by means which impoverish poorer people in richer countries and hold poorer countries back,” Abbott said of his appointment.

“Right now, in countries like Australia, the impact of climate policy is to make electricity less affordable and less reliable rather than perceptibly to cool the planet.

“We need more genuine science and less groupthink in this debate. That’s where the GWPF has been a commendably consistent if lonely voice.”

The GWPF was founded in 2009 by Thatcher-era chancellor Nigel Lawson, who reportedly resigned from the House of Lords last month. Described by UK Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay as the “climate denier-in-chief”, Lawson claimed that “global warming is not a problem” in a 2021 article written for The Spectator during the COP26 in Glasgow.

The foundation’s director, Benny Peiser, also made headlines for spurious statements, including that he found it “extraordinary that anyone should think there is a climate crisis” and that climate “alarmism” was driven by “scientists’ computer modelling rather than observational evidence”.

Despite Lawson’s apparent departure from politics, his foundation continues to cause a headache for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. There has been outrage after a UK register of interests disclosure revealed Conservative MP Steve Baker accepted a £10,000 (A$17,464) donation from the chair of GWPF’s Net Zero Watch.

The campaign arm has urged the UK government to recommit to fossil fuels, commission a fleet of coal-fired power plants, and wind down wind and solar completely, while its alleged breaches of charity law were the subject of a complaint from three British MPs in October.

This isn’t Abbott’s first brush with the foundation. In 2017 he delivered an eyebrow-raising annual lecture that suggested climate change was “probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm”.

Abbott also claimed that photos from his electorate showed the sea level hadn’t risen. (The Bureau of Meteorology found last year that the rates of sea level rise to the north and south-east of Australia have been “significantly higher” than the global average for the past 30 years.)

“Contrary to the breathless assertions that climate change is behind every weather event, in Australia the floods are not bigger, the bushfires are not worse, the droughts are not deeper or longer, and the cyclones are not more severe than they were in the 1800s,” Abbott said at the time.

In an echo of Lawson’s claim that rising temperatures are “no bad thing: many more people die each year from cold-related illnesses than from heat-related ones”, Abbott suggested in 2017 that sweltering heatwaves are good, actually.

“There’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide (which is a plant food after all) are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields,” he said. “In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heatwaves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.”

Heat is the biggest natural killer in Australia (and in the US) and has been for the past 200 years, with fatalities outstripping all other natural killers including bushfires, cyclones and floods. Research has found there were 36,000 deaths associated with heat in Australia between 2006 and 2017.


February 9, 2023 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics

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