Much has been written about COP-26 and Australia’s pathetic performance. ABC journalists Isabella Higgins and Steve Cannane summarise how others saw our lack of any commitment to 2030 reductions: Architect of Paris agreement Christiana Figueres blasts Australia's net zero target.

Higgins also writes about Australia’s refusal to join the global pledge led by the US and the EU to cut methane emissions, drawing our attention to Energy Minister Taylor’s insistence that gas company Santos have a prominent display at the Australia stand. Labor, determined to present itself to the electorate as Coalition Lite, has gone along with the methane decision. Writing in The Conversation Mark Howden of ANU goes into details of  methane contributions to climate change, particularly in relation to agriculture: Australia’s refusal to sign a global methane pledge exposes flaws in the term “net-zero”. He points out that there are ways our farm sector could significantly cut its methane emissions.  We join China, India and Russia in our refusal to do anything about methane.

Another area where we fall short is in our puny contribution to helping developing nations to pay for emission reduction measures and adaptation. Morrison has made much of his announcement about increasing our commitment to other countries from $1.5 billion to $2.0 billion, but that money is spread over five years and is directed at Pacific countries, which are not necessarily the countries in need of such assistance, rather than through the Green Climate Fund. To put that into perspective, that’s an annual payment of around $35 per Australian household. Much more financial help is necessary for developing countries. Even if appeals to fairness don’t influence our policymakers, a failure by “developed” countries to finance developing countries’ efforts to deal with climate change puts us all at risk, writes  ANU’s Melanie Pill writing in The Conversation: Glasgow COP26: climate finance pledges from rich nations are inadequate and time is running out.  (Echoes of the vaccination issue.)

While Morrison was using his time in Glasgow as an opportunity to meet Britain’s crown prince, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest of Fortescue Metals was meeting with Joe Biden to talk about his green hydrogen plan. He describes his initiatives and ambitions in a 10-minute interview on ABC Breakfast.  Some may see this as a piece of self-promotion, but it is also a story about opportunities presented by climate change – opportunities we might miss.

When Fran Kelly interpreted his ideas as an endorsement of Morrison’s idea that governments can leave it all to the private sector, he corrected her: governments must do their bit, he said, in a discussion about investors’ expectations. Australia isn’t the only country with plenty of wind and sunshine – there are many others in our hemisphere. Although he didn’t make the point explicitly, private investors will be attracted to those countries where governments have strong commitments to dealing with climate change. The firmer that commitment, the lower will be the risk premium that companies apply to their cost of capital, and the more will be the investment in green hydrogen and other technologies. (That’s basic business finance, but understanding the mathematics of economics and finance has never been the Coalition’s strong point.) Towards the end of the interview Forrest also takes a swipe at carbon-capture-and-storage, an expensive technology with poor outcomes, which will not capture the methane emissions from gas operations. 

Morrison and his ministers, however, continue to prattle on about “technology not taxes”, as if an alliterated slogan can define a policy. The Grattan Institute has produced a report on what a practical policy would look like –  Towards net zero: a practical plan for Australia’s governments – with sector-by-sector policy recommendations. (In some ways it is reminiscent of the sector-by-sector approach to tariff reduction taken by the Hawke-Keating Government in the 1980s.)

Peter Martin, in an article in The ConversationAustralia is about to be hit by a carbon tax whether the prime minister likes it or not, except the proceeds will go overseas – explains how most of the “developed” world already has carbon prices: Australia, without a price on carbon, is one of the odd countries out. He explains the economics of carbon prices and border adjustment mechanisms: they aren’t about protection; rather they’re about economically responsible resource allocation.

In the meantime former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in his podcast  Australia’s heartland is continuing his campaign even against Morrison’s weak net-zero commitment.