Prime Minister Scott Morrison is aware that under President-elect Joe Biden the US will move to net zero emissions by 2050. His dismissive response is to be regretted. It will also leave us very isolated.
In a jingoistic fashion, Morrison went on to say: "I'm very aware of the many views that are held around the world, but I tell you what - our policies will be set here in Australia" (Guardian Weekly).
Others though are moving in the same direction as Biden's plan.
This is the biggest shift in international climate politics since the Paris agreement five years ago.
The immediate economic impact on Australia as others move away from coal is enormous.
We will lose $80 billion of fossil fuel exports to China, Japan and South Korea.
Scotty from Marketing's response was to simply say, "I am not concerned about our future exports".
That is a typical ScoMo response to problematic questions.
It should also be noted that Britain, Germany, France, Canada and New Zealand are also aiming for zero emissions by 2050.
Why is our federal government so resolutely sticking its head firmly in the sand?
"The ghost of Tony Abbott paralyses Canberra on climate action," suggested Peter Hartcher in The Sydney Morning Herald.
This scares the government.
And, as Joel Fitzgibbon's resignation shows, it also scares the opposition.
It was Abbott who broke Australia's national approach to climate and energy policy.
John Howard and Kevin Rudd reached a broad bipartisan agreement in 2007, strange though that now looks.
They agreed on the idea of an emissions trading scheme.
This remained the consensus under Liberal leaders Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull.
That was until Abbott decided to demonise the policy and lead a conservative insurrection against Turnbull.
And a decade on, both sides of Parliament remain traumatised. They struggle to move on. It was pathetically obvious this week - in both the Morrison government and the Albanese opposition.
In the government's case, it was when the Prime Minister made his congratulatory phone call to the US President-elect.
They discussed shared priorities including climate change.
However, Morrison dared not endorse Biden's commitment to a policy of zero net-carbon emissions by 2050.
So, instead, he emphasised the oft-repeated mantra about new energy technologies.
He was and remains stubbornly mute when it comes to targets and deadlines, on which the fate of his country depends.
It's not that Morrison is hostile to the concept of going carbon neutral.
He just won't put a date to it.
This runs contrary to two iron rules of politics.
One is that the more distant the date, the more likely the commitment, and 2050 is politically very distant.
The other iron rule is to emphasise the benefits of a policy you support but dissemble on the costs.
Morrison's obduracy is even more bizarre when you realise that every Australian state and territory has pledged to achieve net zero by 2050.
It is due to two words -Tony Abbott.
Under the Abbott rule, it is forbidden for politicians to commit to a carbon-cutting target.
As prime minister, Abbott committed Australia to its Paris target. But once he'd been unseated by Turnbull, he started campaigning against his own target.
That approach enabled him to not only bring down Turnbull, but also Julia Gillard.
But Abbott's opportunistic wrecking was also instrumental in other national failures.
Today we have the highest electricity prices in the world and an electricity grid groaning under the strain. And, of course, our contribution to the oncoming collapse of a habitable planet.
Regardless of the need or the urgency, Morrison knows that to campaign openly is to risk another conservative insurrection from his own Coalition.
He's very aware of the coal loving climate change deniers in the Liberal/Nationals parties. So, instead, Scotty from Marketing sticks to the safe ground of talking up new technology.
NSW announced a new $32 billion renewable energy investment plan last week.
Woolworths committed to powering all its stores with solar.
And Australia's richest entrepreneur, Andrew Forrest, hatched a plan to make his company the world's biggest renewable energy supplier.
Meanwhile, in Canberra, government and opposition remain in fear of the ghost of Tony Abbott.
It's high time to exorcise that ghost, for the sake of the people and the planet.