You might think that anthropogenic climate change is a major issue and that decarbonisation should be front and centre of policy. But that’s no excuse for this shoddy bit of tweeting from Senator Pocock:

“Big report out today highlighting the scale of emissions from big fossil fuel companies in Australia.

12 fossil fuel companies emitted more than half of all pacific countries. Yes, countries.

Underlines the need to get the safeguard mechanism right.”

The 23 Pacific Island nations have a combined population of about 11 million. They don’t have much local manufacturing, export no natural gas and have a high dependence “to an unusual degree, on imported goods and services”.

In other words, they are nothing like Australia.

How does comparing the emissions from these nations with Australia’s largest natural gas producers add any value to what should be an important, fact-based discussion? Noting of course that without Australia’s natural gas exports (an important transition fuel) – about 75% of total production was exported in 2018-19 – many Asian nations (the primary destination) would have to burn something even dirtier instead, such as coal.

The answer is that it doesn’t, and Senator Pocock is being deliberately misleading in an effort to push his political agenda (and perhaps pay back his largest campaign donor, Simon Holmes a Court’s Climate 200). But it’s not helpful to further the discussion, and his Twitter handlers should know better than to parrot “research” from the Climate Council, a group headed by none other than Tim Flannery.[1]

[1] In 2004 Flannery predicted that “Perth will be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis”. Perth recorded its second-wettest year ever in 2017 and annual rainfall in 2021 was 9% above the 1961–1990 average. Flannery also predicted that “the eastern states are only 30 years behind [Perth]”, and by 2050 Sydney could have 60% less rainfall each year. Rainfall in Sydney hit at an all-time record high in 2022 with 2530 mm of rainfall – more than twice the city’s long-term annual average.