LESS than six months after News Corp launched its bizarre mission zero 2050 campaign to nudge Australia “on a path to a net zero future,” Russia’s Ukraine adventurism has razed it to rubble. You might remember the widely mocked wraparounds featuring orange-collared fossil fuel workers and their children – thrilled by the possibility of imminent unemployment and life in a ghost town. The push supposedly came from James Murdoch – miffed by the “ongoing denial” of climate change at News, especially during the hysteria attending the historically unremarkable Black Summer fires of 2020. The Murdochs didn’t get where they are on feelings, however.
Commercial pressures from advertisers were also cited by company observers. On 10 October, The Australian editorialised that not declaring a net zero target would mean the nation “stands accused of pushing against good citizenship and global opinion.” On 26 October, Scott Morrison obediently announced a commitment to that objective by 2050. What started as a corporate pivot had become cover for the government and a condescending dose of proselytism for its base.
It was a remarkably different leader in the flagship national daily earlier this week: “It is amazing how quickly the threat of war can bring clarity and urgency to cut through the contemporary fog of muddled Western thinking.” I’ll say. There follows incongruously I-told-you-so support for “security of energy needed for society to function” and applause for “extending the use of coal.” The latest “warning” from the IPCC is casually dismissed by the writer and held to be at variance with “the truth” about the futility of cutting emissions while China and India build hundreds of power plants. Thanks to Vladimir Putin – and the post-invasion catch-up being played in Europe, the US and Australia – the “ambitions paraded with fanfare” at Glasgow last year are now dead. It seems it took Putin to force Western governments to stop lying to their people. That’s how bad they are.
Having walked the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party down the garden path and well and truly off a cliff, the Murdoch boys are now scrambling manically to un-pivot their pivot. Yesterday, The Australian recapitulated the message with a cut and pasted Wall Street Journal editorial on energy vulnerability: Blocking “fossil-fuel development in Western democracies won’t keep carbon ‘in the ground’,” it declared. “It merely hands a strategic weapon to dictators.”
Correct but not just to nation-state dictators. Their corporate variants – billionaire bingers wolfing subsidies and vomiting woke – have been at war with base-load for several years. A Ukraine-driven conversion to obvious reality by his biggest media grubstaker is too little too late for Mr Morrison. Thanks to a half-smart net zero sell-out, his government is trapped in a pincer: sniped on the right by coal-fired minor parties and on the left by fantasy-fuelled climateers. Eraring and Liddell power stations weren’t destroyed by the Russians. They were shelled by an artilleryman facing the wrong way, coordinated by a spotter reconnoitring the wrong battlefield.