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Woke net zero targets will weaken us

By Matthew Canavan - posted Friday, 22 October 2021

Net zero emissions is the public policy embodiment of corporate bullsh*t. Anyone who has worked for a large corporation has sat through mind-numbing Powerpoint slideshows, with liberal helpings of buzzwords like "synergy", "thought leadership" and "data-driven".

I haven't worked as a corporate slave for a while but I am sure "Net Zero" (or the latest offshoot "Mission Zero") now appears as a template stamp on every slide.

Net zero is the ultimate corporate buzzword and that's why so many woke corporations have fallen for it. Many small businesses, who understand the day to day realities of meeting payroll with cash, and can't use accountants to fudge a P&L, remain opposed.


Many buzzwords are harmless, and when working as a corporate robot you can just mouth lip service to them, laugh at the latest Dilbert cartoon, and get on with life. But net zero emissions is not a harmless buzzword.

If the Australian Government formally adopts a net zero emissions target it will weaponise the bureaucracy against any major job creating, nation building project in this country. The next time someone wants to build an Adani mine, Canberra will ask how will you OFFSET the emissions. The next time someone wants to build a dam (yes dams create emissions), Canberra will ask how will you OFFSET the emissions. The next time someone wants to build an airstrip on a Great Barrier Reef island to open a resort, Canberra will ask how will you OFFSET the emissions.

It is important here to pause and understand what net zero means beyond the corporate hype. As the Emissions Minister Angus Taylor has said, net zero doesn't mean you can't create carbon emissions, but you have to offset those emissions to get back to zero.

This means people who build mines, grow food or construct an airstrip will have to pay other people to plant trees or do something else to offset their emissions. It costs money for people to plant trees and do other things to reduce emissions. When pioneering nation builders have to pay for these things, that is a tax on on their project and the jobs it will create. Net zero means a big tax on developing our nation.

There will be bigger government but fewer productive businesses.

And that is why it hurts regional Australia more than anywhere else. To grow our country towns, we need people to build dams, mines and airports. Compared to the cities, who already have these things, we will be at a permanent disadvantage.


Now some net zero advocates will say that we will invent things that will make carbon emission reductions free. The latest fad is hydrogen. This idea breaches the first law of economics: there is no such thing as a free lunch.

I support us investing in hydrogen and other technologies. As the Resources Minister I developed Australia's first National Hydrogen Strategy.

I do not support gambling with people's jobs on the hope that an uncertain thing turns out. You don't take on a mortgage with the plan to pay it back by winning the lotto.

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This article was first published on Not Zero.

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About the Author

Matthew Canavan is a senator for Queensland.

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