AUSTRALIA finally has a vocal cheerleader at the COP19 United Nations climate talks currently taking place in Warsaw - a climate denial activist think tank which rejects the science of human-caused climate change.
The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, or CFACT, a fossil fuel-funded group which denies that emissions from burning fossil fuels cause climate change, declared in a UN-sanctioned press conference inside the talks that the world should be following Australia's lead in repealing laws to price carbon emissions.
Environment groups have been critical of Australia at the talks, giving the country four “Fossil of the Day” awards for slowing down the talks, while one group said Australia is taking an “anti-climate” stance in Warsaw.
Campaigners have been shocked at the rhetoric coming from Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who recently described carbon pricing as a “so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one” and characterised moves to financially support developing countries to manage climate change as “socialism masquerading as environmentalism.”
Marc Morano, the editor of the ClimateDepot denial website, appeared Tuesday alongside CFACT executive director Craig Rucker. Morano unleashed a torrent of previously debunked climate denial talking points to a sparsely populated and occasionally perplexed press conference audience.
“Coal is the moral choice, particularly for the developing world,” said Morano in the CFACT Warsaw press conference - a comment greeted with laughter from many in the room. Conference hosts Poland have been criticised for simultaneously hosting a World Coal Association conference elsewhere in Warsaw.
“The model for the world right now should be Australia,” Morano said. “Australia gets it. Scientifically they get it, politically they get it and particularly when it comes to the United Nations, they get it. They are pulling out of this, they are repealing their carbon tax and Canada seems to be intrigued by what Australia is doing.”
“Australia gets it - they have realised what the United Nations is doing here today. Viva Australia - let's hope the world follows Australia's model,” said Morano, who is a former advisor to Republican Senator James Inhofe, who has said global warming is a scientific “hoax”.
Support from CFACT is not the kind of attention which Australia will welcome.
CFACT has accepted more than $4 million in recent years through Donors Trust, a slush fund for rich conservatives, and has also accepted more than $500,000 from oil giant ExxonMobil and other fossil-fuel related foundations.
Also appearing for CFACT was 81-year-old former Apollo astronaut Walter Cunningham, who admitted he was no climate scientist but then proceeded to tell the audience how science should and should not be carried out.
He said phrases such as “climate change,” “global warming” and “anthropogenic warming” were, in fact, “code words for governmental control of energy consumption and consequently our standard of living.”
“Sceptics like us are challenged to disprove their hypothesis,” he said. “Scientists are best qualified to deal with the scientific questions but we all have to deal with the financial consequences of any actions taken on bad science.”
“In the 1980s a small group of individuals became concerned about the Earth's temperature and what it might do in the future. I hesitate to call them scientists because they have abandoned their scientific principals by which their guess about temperature increases and the cause could achieve scientific acceptance or rejection.”
He criticised some climate scientists for being “alarmists”, but then described measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions as a “fight to avoid the economic destruction of our society.” He said scientists had “dreamed up” the hypothesis of human caused climate change and had convinced “most of the media” that the science was solid.
In questions, one representative from the UK Youth Climate Coalition said: “I'm going to call bullshit on everything that you have just said. You guys are the ones being naive and you guys are the ones ignoring the science. I don't even know what to ask. I think my question would just be… how do you sleep at night?”
Watch the Q&A part of the presser below:
In angry scenes outside the press conference, Morano, Rucker and Cunningham were challenged on their views by British climate change Professor Kevin Anderson. Mr Rucker evaded questions from DeSmogBlog on aspects of the organisation's funding. Stay tuned for more on that soon.