Friday 24 Sep 2021 | 22:23 | SYDNEY
Friday 24 Sep 2021 | 22:23 | SYDNEY

Climate change and the Right


Sam Roggeveen


19 July 2011 09:48

Rob Burgess at Business Spectator mounts an argument for a conservative approach to climate change, and it sounds eerily familiar:

Conservatives should understand this point. It's because we don't know for sure what climate change will bring, that we have such a strong interest in conserving what we have, and mitigating the risk of calamity.

That's why it has been so perplexing in the past two years to watch the conservative side of federal politics so wantonly disregard their obligation to conserve and protect Australia against the unknown. The dangerous impacts of climate change in our region are much more likely, not less, than direct military conquest by China – but we spend billions through the defence budget mitigating the risk of the latter, and little on the former.

Malcolm Turnbull tried this line when he was leader of the Liberal Party. But you cannot persuade someone to spend money mitigating against the risk of a changing climate if they think the science behind climate change is bunk. 

Remember, there are those in the Liberal Party who think climate change is a greenie plot to de-industrialise the West. They think the 'risk' of climate change is zero. Why bother insuring against it? That's why they are so critical of Gillard's scheme, and my bet is that, privately, they regard Abbott's 'direct action' approach with only slightly less contempt, since in their eyes it would at least have the virtue of being easily reversible.

For conservatives who want action on climate change, it seems to me the more fruitful approach is simply to ignore those who reject the science, and focus instead on the pro-market argument. The latest issue of The Economist has a leader on Gillard's scheme with a line that would suit the purpose nicely: it is better to tax pollution than work or saving.

Photo by Flickr user ccdoh1.