Political polarisation of climate change is the biggest obstacle for environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing, which should be the biggest investment story, according to former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Speaking at a VanEck webinar, Turnbull said the return of Barnaby Joyce as leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister, who replaced Michael McCormack earlier this week, would be a “disaster” for climate change.
“Barnaby has always weaponised opposition to action on climate change and he is an absolute global warming denier,” Turnbull said.
“He sees it as a wedge, and he used it to wedge out Michael McCormack and he’s used it against me at different times.
“Barnaby is absolutely not a friend of renewable energy, even though there are some big renewable operations in his own electorate. I’m sure a lot of people in New England would be fed up with him.”
Turnbull was currently chair of the Australian Fortescue Future Industries, which led renewable energy projects for the Andrew Forrest-led Fortescue Metals Group.
“Global warming is real, it’s a physical fact and the only way we can arrest global warming is by cutting our greenhouse gases and the way to do that is to replace fossil fuel with renewable energy,” Turnbull said.
“The cheapest form of new energy generation in Australia and most countries is a combination of renewables and storage.
“Politically, the issue of global warming and the issue of energy has been politicised to the point where it has become a values or identity issue.
“What I would call the populist Right, which includes Barnaby Joyce, the Murdoch media – particularly in the states with Fox News, and of course the fossil fuel lobbyists take advantage of this.”
Turnbull said the Coalition had turned coal and gas into an identity issue so which meant Australians were either for or against it.
“It’s awfully irrational and the National party want to build new coal fired power stations in Australia and Matt Canavan talks about it all the time,” Turnbull said.
“The only way this can be done is if the Government built them and this is at an enormous cost to taxpayers and an enormous loss to the environment.
“I think it’s actually worse now in Canberra than when I was there.”