File under “well its about time”.
Where once denial was expected – if not the norm – from the fossil fuel industry, increasingly we are seeing that industry acknowledge the fact that climate change poses a fundamental risk to their operations (and thus profit).
Climate change “skepticism” is fast becoming the preserve of the ideological zealot and fringe conspiracy theorist.
I’ve spent the majority of my professional life in the private sector, and appreciate climate change from a) an ethical perspective and b) as a risk management issue.
Thus my many years of observation taught me industry acceptance was inevitable. Slower than it should be, but without doubt always coming.
The management of most corporations are conservative and risk averse – far more than the cheer leaders of the “free market” would have you believe.
Indeed, I’m incredibly amused by the shallow musings of the likes of the “Institute of Public Affairs” and “free-market think tanks”.
Quite frankly this gaggle of ideologues, apologists for the super-rich and intellectual fringe dwellers seem to know precious little about how the “market’ actually works”.
It’s not perfect, it does not operate “rationally” and it is not an enabler of human happiness.
It is a mechanism to distribute material and non-material goods. That’s it.
Free markets don’t equal free people: just ask the Chinese how easy it is to decouple “free markets” from the ideals and practice of democracy or “free speech”.
And the market can – and does – fail with surprising regularity: form the South Sea Bubble, to “The Great Depression” and “The Global Financial Crisis” (GFC).
Climate change is a product of market failure, a selective blindness to the risk and additional cost burdens of greenhouse emissions. In the same way regulators overlooked the risky of lending practices of banks in the United States (how CDCs fueled the property bubble) lead to the GFC, so it is with carbon emissions.
Carbon emissions have been “off book” – but that does not mean the risk is not real: one merely needs to see the emergent risks in the shrinking Arctic Sea Ice and record high temperatures.
Pretty much most informed commentators and observers saw the demise of fossil fuel industry opposition to mitigation efforts such as the “carbon tax” as inevitable.
[Note to the LNP and Tony Abbott: you are looking increasingly silly aren't you? You've spent a far too much time at IPA events I think, when business generally sees these people as fringe nutters.]
So when the coal miners start stating the case for “urgent action” we are passing a threshold: perhaps too late, perhaps not urgently enough, but it is happening.
One can appreciate coal miners have to steady the nerves of investors (and themselves) by stating “there will always be a place for coal”, but the truth is coal as an energy source is in its sunset years.
And yes, this was also seen as inevitable: even by those companies themselves.
Give it a few decades and it is possible to anticipate the large scale decommissioning of mines and coal powered generators across the globe.
But the “merchants of doubt” achieved what they set out to do: delay the inevitable regulatory reform and their technological obsolescence.
Their demise was both predictable and certain: “our” failure was to (once again) anticipate the ferocity of the fossil fuel lobby’s opposition in what they appreciated was a fight to the death.
And now, in their final years even the coal miners have come to accept their “death” – they are moving from denial and anger to bargaining and acceptance.
“This too shall pass”.
This from Rio Tinto’s head of coal (via SMH) - note the tacit acceptance of the “carbon tax”;
Climate change is occurring and is largely caused by human activities, miner Rio Tinto’s head of coal in Australia, Bill Champion told a Brisbane conference this morning.
In a speech on sustainable development and mining, Mr Champion said the “scale of the necessary emissions reductions and the need for adaptation, coupled with the world’s increasing requirements for secure, affordable energy, create large challenges which require worldwide attention”.
Rio Tinto has factored a carbon price into its investment decision-making for the past 10 years, Mr Champion said.
“We support a coordinated global approach to reduce emissions. Until that is in place, as well as after, we recognise that it will be necessary for individual jurisdictions to take actions. [Mike @ WtD: Yes they accept the "carbon tax" that was supposed to end civilization]
“We recognise the value of action on climate change.”We factor into our planning and decision-making, including our choice of investments, the costs and associated risks of emissions and business disruption, as well as the costs and benefits of mitigation and adaptation, and the opportunities created for our business by the move to a low-carbon economy.”
Mr Champion said coal-use represented about 25 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but there would continue to be demand for coal even under the International Energy Agency’s most aggressive scenarios for action on climate change.