The only thing the Queensland government is incensed about is that they couldn’t control what the visiting leaders said.
Everything Obama said about the reef is true. Noddy and the collection of white shoe spivs that constitute his administration are worried that the mining and real estate interests that are the real government in Queensland will come off second best, if the mad rush to exploit coal and gas is more carefully regulated. Instead of listening to paid shills in the US media (like Andrew Bolt here), Obama actually reads and understands the science.
He also understands the difference between warming and the rate of warming. Bolt spouts the “no warming since 1998” nonsense because he believes his readers can’t tell the difference between a trend and a rate. Obviously, some of them can’t – particularly those who think the earth is flat. A quick perusal of the science shows that warming has continued unabated since 1968. The only thing that’s changed is the rate. The car is still heading for the cliff, only now it’s traveling at 40km per hour instead of 60.
The agreement between China and USA is a watershed. Obama doesn’t need congress to implement his side of the bargain, and the Chinese have no choice, given the toxic atmosphere which most urban Chinese experience.
Only 1 percent of the China’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by international standards. Air pollution is particularly bad in the rust belt areas of northeastern China. A study done by the World Health Organization estimated that the amount of airborne suspended particulates in northern China are almost 20 times what WHO considers a safe level.
A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center before the 2008 Olympics found that 74 percent of the Chinese interviewed said they were concerned about air pollution. It’s got much worse since and kills over half a million Chinese annually. The irony in this is that the pollution is a daily fact of life for the most populous nation on earth – it’s visible – and despite the restraints of command economy, the Chinese people will not, in the long run, continue to tolerate it. The leadership is well aware that China has no choice.
China has the world highest number of deaths attributed to air pollution. The World Health Organization estimated in 2007 that 656,000 Chinese died prematurely each year from ailments caused by indoor and outdoor air.
So it’s going to happen.
The two most powerful and polluting nations on earth are taking action. The rest of the world, including Australia, has no choice. The Coalition's only remaining argument against an ETS has vanished into thin (hopefully unpolluted) air. Reference to the Green Climate Fund, of which Abbott has been highly critical, was inserted into the final G20 communiqué after pressure from Japan, the USA, South Korea and the European Union.
If Abbott and co had any sense they’d be planning for an economy when the rest of the world won’t want our coal any more, or at least nowhere as much of it as they do know. It looks as if, behind the bluster, they've woken up to that reality. The FTA with China, whilst of doubtful value to everyday Australians, especially those who can't find work, significantly broadens the base of what we can profitability sell to China.
The pragmatists in the Coalition have sniffed the global breeze, and come to the only rational conclusion. Their spin merchants will never let that get in the way of a discredited three word slogan, of course.