The modelling was delayed until the final Friday of COP26 to avoid embarrassment. But it’s even worse than expected

In April this year, Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, said that “we will not achieve net zero in the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities”. This explains why he turned to the salt-of-the-Earth hard-workin’ rural folk at McKinsey – one of the biggest billion-dollar multinational consulting agencies on the planet – to produce the Australian government’s long-awaited modelling explaining the pathway to “net zero by 2050”.

In some parallel universe, the task may have gone to Australia’s chief science agency, the CSIRO (a former employer of mine). But it was revealed at Senate estimates a few weeks back that despite the CSIRO applying for the tender, the government rejected them and paid McKinsey $6m to model the changes Australian society must go through to decarbonise within 30 years. This choice makes sense in the context of recent leaks to the New York Times that revealed McKinsey has advised 43 of the 100 biggest corporate polluters, including “BP, Exxon Mobil, Gazprom and Saudi Aramco”. 1,100 of its employees signed an open letter pleading the consultancy reveal the carbon impacts of its clients.

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