IF you were going to have a serious high-level discussion about, say, improving science teaching in schools, then who would you invite to chair the meeting?
How about an astrologer? Perhaps a purveyor of crystal healing would be a good choice? Maybe a creationist, a fortune teller or a spiritual healer?
Well of course not. This would be ridiculous. But just hold that thought for a minute.
A few days ago, the Commonwealth Business Council brought its high-level bi-annual forum –hosted in Perth, Western Australia – to a close.
The CBC boasts membership from 54 countries, across five continents with more than 100 member companies. Among its goals, the CBC aims to "provide leadership in increasing international trade" and to promote "good governance and corporate social responsibility".
Among those in attendance at the CBC forum were the Australian Prime Minister, senior Australian cabinet members, ministers from South Africa, the UK, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Rawanda and the Caribbean.
There were senior representatives from international energy and mining companies, including BP, Woodside, RioTinto, Shell and Hancock Prospecting.
With all of that power and influence in the one place, organisers promised that the meeting would likely spawn many multi-million dollar international business deals.
But the meeting also broke-up with the news that, among other things, it had failed to reach any kind of agreement on tackling climate change.
According to a report in The Australian
, the London-based council’s director-general Mohan Kaul said this lack of an agreement was down to the “diverse views” of those businesses in attendance.
Mark Barnaba, the forum’s steering committee co-chairman, said the lack of consensus was “unsurprising”.
Indeed, this lack of agreement was unsurprising. Even an astrologer could have correctly predicted it, given the person they asked to chair the forum's climate change session.
Titled, “Tackling Climate Change and Energy Challenges: A Government Business Partnership” the session’s contributors included Australia’s Climate Change Minister Greg Combet and ministers from the UK, South Africa and Bangladesh.
I now ask you to recall those astrologers and fortune tellers, because they're my analogy for the chair of the session - businessman Hugh Morgan, a denier of the science of human-caused climate change.
Quite how, or why, he was given this gig is almost as unfathomable in its stupidity as the idea the motion of a distant planet can influence whether or not I’m going to win at the lottery (which I’m not, because I don’t enter, and I know not if this is a Sagittarian trait).
Morgan, who is on the CBC's board of directors
, is a founder member and current president of the Lavoisier Group, launched in Victoria in 2000. The group was set-up chiefly to oppose any regulation on greenhouse gases.
In his latest “President’s Report” on the Lavoisier Group
’s website, Morgan concludes: “We have been doing everything possible in recent years to destroy our coal-fired electricity industry in the superstitious belief that carbon dioxide is a pollutant.”
Also on the website, you can enjoy articles such as “Is the Western Climate Establishment Corrupt” and “Nine Lies About Global Warming”.
Hugh Morgan, 71, is also a former director at the Institute for Public Affairs, a free-market think-tank which promotes climate science denial and consistently attacks the efficacy of the renewable energy industry.
Commenting on Morgan's role at the CBC, Australian Senator Christine Milne told The Power Index
I think Australians deserve to know who made the decision to invite one of the country's most aggressive and thoroughly debunked climate deniers to chair a Commonwealth meeting on climate action. Given his long-standing public campaigning against climate action, what role did Mr Morgan play in this meeting?
Morgan is also a member of the lobby group Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision
, which wants to create a separate economic zone in the north of Australia with low-tax and low-regulation to promote mining industry development.He was also the boss of the Western Mining Corporation and includes on his CV stints on the board of Australia's Reserve Bank and the Presidency of the Business Council of Australia.
ANDEV was established by Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart, chairman of Hancock Prospecting, promoter of climate science denial and speaker at the CBC forum. Rinehart has twice supported tours of climate “sceptic” Lord Christopher Monckton.
Also an ANDEV member is climate sceptic and mining entrepreneur Professor Ian Plimer, who Rinehart passed-off as a climate expert
in front of another influential audience earlier this year.
Putting a man like Hugh Morgan in a position of influence on climate change is a bit like.. well.. asking an astrologer how we should teach science to kids.
The act is irresponsible and the result will be highly predictable.