Kevin Rudd is a bit of a bull-artist. Of course most politicians are. His personality marks him as a Labor Party baloney merchant - only one of the many reasons I prefer the conservative side of politics.
Rudd is full of significant claims but, one senses, without John Howard’s innate sense of caution and, more than that, foresight. It is easier to make strong claims than to think things through. I hope I am wrong since much that Rudd advocates is worthwhile - particularly on climate change.
Rudd and the Labor Party have an apparently strong position on climate change – recall that the Coalition was evading the issue according to Rudd - an important reason to vote Labor.
But then Peter Garrett spilled the beans. Post 2012 Labor’s policy on cutbacks will be conditional on developing countries making agreed-to cutbacks. They could not be excluded from an international agreement. But this was Coalition policy and Australia will already hit its Kyoto targets anyway. Indeed ratifying Kyoto although an important gesture masks the fact that the real issue is what to do post-2012.
This is where things get very murky for Labor.
Labor seeks a 60% cut in emissions by 2050. But Rudd has rejected 25-40% cuts in carbon emissions by 2020 while he waits to be told what to do by Ross Garnaut. Is this serious? Garnaut is not a climate change specialist - he speaks of tragedy-of-commons issues as if they are some great new original insight. There have been many other inquiries into climate change organised by people more knowledgeable (in this area) than Garnaut.
The cuts, according to Rudd, will be ‘environmentally meaningful and economically responsible’ whatever that means. This is gobbledegook.
Setting targets to be met in 42 years time is easy politics. Many of the current batch of Labor politicians will be dead by then. But a 25% cut in 12 years time is a policy that has more bite.
Moreover, taking a linear interpolation, if Rudd is sincere about his 60% cutback target he should cut carbon emissions by 2020 by at least 60%*12/42 = 17% anyway. Given that the early cutbacks will be the easy ones a figure of 25% does not seem outrageous as a target.
And why set a 2050 target if you are uncertain about the target you want to hit in 2020? It is all very well for Rudd who ratified Kyoto a few days ago to say ‘Australia will lead the world’ - he is already sounding like Keating - but cut out the bull Kevin.
Do - don’t talk Kevin - the issues are serious and we need to recognise that meaningful action will be costly - don't let insincerity undo us all.