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What The Raving Hell Is This "LET" Stuff Then?

Are the "climate wars" about to come to an end?

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Let's start with the fact that this "LET" everyone in Australian politics is talking about right now, stands for "Low Emissions Target".

For quite a while now, Australia has been sticking its fingers in both ears, yelling "lah lah lah" and ignoring the country's rapidly aging power network and worsening climate change.

From today there'll be a "Low Emissions Target" (being reported in other places as a "Clean Energy Target") on the table, which means the big generators will need to get a certain amount of their power from clean energy/renewables.

In order to pander to the right wing of the party, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull might make the emissions limit just high enough so some coal and gas technologies could qualify under the LET.

Look, it's definitely not a new idea. It's now on the table because of Australia's chief scientist Alan Finkel. This guy... on the right.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

Finkel who is now suggesting the "LET" is a globally renowned neuroscientist, inventor and co-founder of the science magazine Cosmos.

Despite being Australia's top scientist since 2015, Finkel has recently become famous for regularly dragging climate deniers, like One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts.

"You have to have an open mind but not so open that your brain leaks out." @ScienceChiefAu tells Malcolm Roberts

"I think all the scientists I know have a healthy degree of skepticism," Finkel told Roberts earlier this month. "But healthy is an important word there."

"You have to have an open mind, but not so open that your brain leaks out."


If you're looking for another classic Finkel roasting, may we suggest when he calmly explained how climate change actually worked to Roberts in a Senate estimates hearing last year.

So Finkel's LET comes about because the prime minister asked him to conduct a big independent review into Australia's power network after it became clear things were falling apart.

Facebook: aaron.lee.baxter

Quite literally. A headline-grabbing storm plunged the entire state of South Australia into a blackout last year, while power bills around the country are high AF and only getting higher.

The politics of the LET is where things get interesting... or truly awful and depressing, depending on your viewpoint.


Former prime minister John Howard actually proposed a LET alongside an emissions trading scheme nearly TEN YEARS AGO.

It's hard to believe now, but Howard was heading into the 2007 election against Kevin Rudd with a comprehensive package on climate change, which included a LET alongside a scheme that would allow businesses to trade carbon credits (an ETS).

Howard lost, Rudd won.

When prime minister Kevin Rudd later tried to bring in the ETS, the Liberal party under Malcolm Turnbull looked to be on board before a bloke stepped in.

This guy. Tony Abbott. Yep. Tony freaking Abbott.

Abbott, who had once deadset suggested that a carbon tax would be the simplest way to price emissions, rolled Liberal opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull in the partyroom.

Without Turnbull willing the Coalition to vote for the ETS, Rudd’s plans were iced.

The next installment involves Julia Gillard, who had "promised" no carbon tax before the 2010 election, then went ahead and brought in a carbon tax anyway.

Channel 10

Gillard's "carbon tax" was actually just a fixed carbon price that would later become an ETS, but you know what, fuck it, that's another depressing chapter of which you can catch up to here.

The "no carbon tax" pledge kicked off some of the most sorry and depressing years in Australian politics, leading to Gillard being rolled by Rudd and Abbott becoming prime minister at the 2013 election.

As you can see, the last decade of Australian politics has been a pitched, bloody battle over climate change, with prime ministers and party leaders thrown out like yesterday's jam. Smdh.

Which brings us back to 2017.


The news of the LET has been cautiously welcomed by business groups and Labor because everyone is apparently willing to come to the table and end the "climate wars" that have ruined politics for a decade.

Alan Porritt / AAPIMAGE

But for Labor to do a deal with Turnbull it would be putting aside it's more ambitious climate policies after years and years of getting smashed by their foes.

The Climate Change Authority has already said the LET is the second-best option and as always, there might be another big, red speedo clad-man problem on the horizon.

On Sydney radio earlier this week, backbencher Tony Abbott shitcanned the LET, making everyone roll their eyes with surprise.

Princss Pictures

“Anything that makes it impossible for us to bank new, efficient coal-fired power stations I think is a big mistake,” Abbott said.

To make sure Abbott is happy, Turnbull might be forced to make the emissions limit of the LET so high that Labor would be like, "pffffft, what's even the point then?"

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

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