Doomed Planet

Net Zero, More Slogan Than Science

On the Kenny Report recently, fill-in host Chris Smith was railing against The Greens’ demand that we do much more to cut CO2 emissions by 2030.  He took the view that ‘doing all the heavy lifting’ this early in the march towards net zero by 2050 would irreparably damage our economy.  He’s right of course.

But his implicit assumption that if we achieve net zero by 2050 it will be mission accomplished is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the so-called science.  The aim of all this pain is to limit global warming to 1.5C or, a worst-case scenario, 2C.

By their own lights, The Greens are right.  The IPCC science does not say net zero by 2050 will limit warming to 1.5C or even 2C. 

The IPCC tells us in its latest report that limiting warming depends on limiting global emissions to specific carbon budgets.  It does not care about the timeframe. The table below,extracted from the latest IPPC report, details the probability of achieving a limit of either 1.5C or 2C depending upon which carbon budget (in GtCO2) is adopted.

To explain, in order to have an 83 per cent probability of limiting warming to 1.5C, total global CO2 emissions must not exceed 300 GtCO2.  Since globally we currently emit approximately 50 GtCO2 annually, this budget will be exhausted in six years, i.e., by 2028.  So whatever cuts we achieve by 2030 are meaningless in this context.  A budget of 900 GtCO2, which gives only a 17 per cent probability of limiting warming to 1.5C, also seems highly problematic.

If limiting warming to 1.5C is the aim, then surely our action should be directed towards working within these budgets, rather than arbitrary timeframes.  Well before 2050, on current trends, all those budgets will be exceeded. On current trends, China alone will emit 128 GTtCO2 by 2030 and 400 GtCO2 by 2050. In other words, there is a serious disconnect between the science as shown above and the time-frame-based strategy adopted by this, and indeed all, governments.  ‘Net zero’ is not an end in itself.  It is nothing more than a marketing slogan.

So if you believe ‘the science’, as Albanese and Bowen claim to do, then they are not acting in accordance with it.  If catastrophic climate change is a real threat, then the trillions of dollars we are spending trying to stop it are already wasted and would be better spent preparing to adapt to it.  Building more dams for instance.

I have beaten this drum before, and I will continue to do so because the Australian people are being misled by the suggestion that achieving net zero by 2050 will limit warming to 1.5C.   You might argue that this is a counter-productive move.  That it will only reinforce the Greens’ position.  And you might be right.  But we should not resile from the facts.

The best way for conservatives to fight this battle would have been to push back against the CAGW scam years ago, but that ship has already sailed, and Morrison’s craven theatrics in Glasgow last year gave it a wet sail. 

So, the argument must be fought on adaptation.  At some point, probably in the near future, the energy chickens will come home to roost, and will provide a more fertile ground upon which that argument can be based.  As Adam Creighton reports in The Australian:

Only 1 per cent of American voters said climate change was their number one issue, according to the most recent national poll from The New York Times, far behind worries about inflation, abortion and gun crime, which have each received months of media coverage. Among young voters, aged under 30, 3 per cent said it was.

How long before that sentiment crosses the Pacific?

This may seem like clutching at straws, but how many centre- and right-oriented voters who accepted what they were told about the ‘science’, believed the hype about renewables and voted in the interest of the planet, might be susceptible to a new pragmatic argument when they discover they have been seriously duped?

  • Biggles

    I too, Peter, am sick of beating the drum, but it is a very different drum from that of the warmists. Carbon dioxide was finished as a greenhouse gas at a concentration well below that which now exists; see the work of Prof Wal Happer of Princeton. Due to the current grand solar minimum, the Earth’s temperature is falling. For the first time I can remember, Melbourne did not have a 40+ day last summer. The coming northern hemisphere winter will be colder than last year and will be even colder in the years ahead. The problem we have is that you can’t fix stupid.


    NetZero. NetZero has become a cult with the usual attributes: It can’t be questioned, compliance to the dogma, demonising the non-compliers and absence of critical thinking. Its goals are illogical and unattainable. Its proponents have a mental disorder. The cult of Zeroism, a sub variant of the cult of Safetyism. Unless we’re all safe, no one is safe.

  • 27hugo27

    While the global warming hoax is the issue here, it’s the endless thrashing of buzz-phrases drilled into the public psyche that chills me to the bone. Every time i hear the term “Net Zero” and especially its evil twin “Zero tolerance”, the decline of the west becomes more apparent. That newsreaders, commentators, “experts”, even sports broadcasters throw this term around as a given, shows how complete the Gramscian march is. To think and share that zero tolerance on anything is achievable is to welcome totalitarianism through the front door. Zero tolerance on any ism? Who decides on sexism, racism etc? Certainly not we the majority. This mindset has reached its zenith with some pushing for zero road deaths, and how they intend to achieve it. Tripling already highest in the world speeding /drinking/mobile fines? Tripling demerit points? Increasing insurance and licence costs? When we know that they want all of us to use public transport, giving up freedom of movement, and of course getting to “Net Zero”, this proposal begins to make sense. Add the all pervasive terms “sustainability”, “inclusiveness”, “holistic” etc lining the walls of every public place and building, a brainwashed and compliant populace ensues.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    PO: “‘Net zero’ is not an end in itself. It is nothing more than a marketing slogan.”
    Indeed, but for me it is more than that. The UN, and its partners in the CC deception, need a target to combat public inertia and/or indifference.
    Note too how 2050 has suddenly become 2030, and political targets – such as 43% by 2030 – that reek of bogus precision are paraded daily as the solutions to the “climate crisis”.
    Claiming DAGW/DACC is/was driven solely by GHGs, of which the human component is the most important, was always driven by the politics, and the pseudoscience and the money: that is to say by the $$$ trillions the UN still hopes to suck into its so-called Green Climate Fund; and then into the developing world’s treasure chest and small island “states”, the latter having 20% of the UN vote.

  • Michael

    The Paris Agreement, with its ambition to limit warming to 2 degrees, preferably 1.5 degrees, is not quite dead, but it is on life support.

    COP27 in Egypt is still going to be just a gab fest for the diplomatic, corporate, and activist jet set. But it’s going to be very different in tone from COP27. Certainly behind closed doors, if not in public, emissions reduction is going to play second fiddle to energy security and food security.

  • Daffy

    I’m sure most people have no idea what the ‘nett’ prefixing the ‘zero’ means. Of course it means not absolute zero production of CO2 from this continent, but the production being balanced by natural sequestration. On which basis, we are already way past ‘nett’ zero and well into the negative. The continent absorbs more than it produces.
    That said, I wonder if things would be changed if the natural production of CO2 were to be included in the IPCC table.

  • Citizen Kane

    I cannot agree with the underlying premise of this article. Peter essentially concedes that the postmodernist narrative of CAGW has now become a default ‘fact’ of reality and therefore conservatives must now simply champion policies that focus on mitigation against a phantom ‘bogeyman’. In so doing he essentially commits the same mistake as the Liberal ‘wets’ in abandoning the battleground of the fundamental science that underpins the earths climate. Anyone who truly understands these forces could never concede to a ‘unscientific’ notion that 400ppm atmospheric CO2 represented an existential threat to the biosphere and ergo humans. It is a fundamentally unscientific proposition. As unscientific as Bruce Pascoe’s claim to Aboriginality. Should we therefore accept that Bruce has won this argument and now seek to mitigate against the policy direction of a wave of faux aboriginals while accepting there claim is now beyond reproach? The best thing conservatives can do, is infact continue to fight an underground insurgency against the inherent bullshit that is AGW purely on fundamental scientific grounds. Anyone who has any understanding of he cyclic nature of climate drivers will know that a colder than average period has now infact been entered and will persist for at least the next 10 -15 years. Long enough for reality to make a complete lie of the AGW fraud. For those of us who hold the ground, the argument will come to us and a closer empirical, scientific approximation of truth will prevail.

  • Peter OBrien

    Citizen Kane, I have been fighting an underground insurgency against the inherent bullshit that is AGW in these pages and others since 2010, and I will continue to do so.
    But that does not mean we must rely on this approach alone. What I am postulating here is a separate front which exposes the contradiction between the claims of ‘listening to the science’ and what the bullshit science actually says. It’s a sort of divide and conquer approach.
    And I am certainly not championing policies that focus on mitigation, which should be patently clear from my article. And to the extent that I am championing adaptation policies, that is purely because such policies (eg building more dams) make sense regardless of the fat that CAGW is bullshit. We will always have droughts, flooding rains and bushfires.

  • STD

    Net Zero-equates to no science- the ultimate left wing pipe dream.

  • MargieCJ

    But the biggest polluter on the Earth is Communist China. Are they locked in to Zero Carbon emissions by 2030? Not on your life. They import our coal, iron ore, uranium and gas (which we are not allowed to use). They are building numerous new coal fired power stations and nuclear power stations. And yet they pollute the Earth with Black Soot and poisonous sulphides which are poisoning the Chinese people. And never forget that they are mining the rare Earth minerals from the bottom of the ocean for the batteries for the so-called clean electric cars; and they are destroying the ocean floor whilst mining for these minerals.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    So ‘the models’ say this and that and the other? And as we know from the Covid experience and other ecological modelling ventures (mad cow, foot and mouth, swine flu) models are never either completely wrong or out towards catastrophism by huge orders of magnitude. Peter O’Brien bells that cat, because by the models we should know very soon indeed how much faith to put in this modelling.
    Doing things that will be useful anyway, like building more dams, improving farming techniques, and reducing climatic hysterias in children, can calm the believers better in the meantime; hopefully with a lot of popular approval once the lights start to go out and common sense about reliance on models returns.

  • gardner.peter.d

    The rate is important because CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by various processes at varyiing rates, whereas its warming effect at any particular time depends on the actual concentration. This is obvious.
    If anyone is interested, the table referenced in this article is “Table SPM.2 | Estimates of historical carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and remaining carbon budgets” on page 29 of the Summary for Policymakers.
    I haven’t ploughed through the report to find out if there is some end point stated for the budget. But obvioulsy the faster CO2 is emitted, the faster the budget is exhausted.
    From IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group I (AR4, WG-I) Executive Summary of Chapter 7:
    About 50% of a CO2 increase will be removed from the atmosphere within 30 years, and a further 30% will be removed within a few centuries. The remaining 20% may stay in the atmosphere for many thousands of years.

  • Mark Dawson

    Good article, Peter.

    Personally, I don’t care a jot about all these forecasts and predictions of imminent doom. The only thing that is certain is that most of the modellers will be wrong (one way or another).

    In my view, its a mistake to put your ‘stake in the ground’ as to whether you believe in climate change or not. From a conservative political perspective, that’s not the relevant question. Given that energy and transportation are the two largest industries globally, the really relevant questions are:

    (1). how do you ensure ‘energy security’ for Australia
    (2). How does capitalism best thrive in securing energy security
    (3). How does Australia harness its unique geo political advantages to profit from the change that is unfolding

    It doesn’t matter that climate change is ‘mumbo jumbo’ politics. Of course it is …! The only thing that does matter is that it is politics and what the response is from a conservative perspective to both understand and profit from the changing dynamic. Frankly, everything else is really, just a lot of hot air …!

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