Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yes, Kevin Rudd is a coal eating surrender monkey

Well, my prediction of the 10% +/- 5% emissions reduction target set by the Rudd Labor government for Australia was accurate. Sadly thought, the target is a ridiculous 5%.

Penny Wong's justification for this is "jobs".

But securing today’s 19C dirty jobs while NOT building the low pollution economy of tomorrow, or creating ANY green jobs is a shocking outcome.

And the Government will be giving $billions of our money to the worst polluters.

This is hardly a recipe for progress.

This is a joke, and its on us (the public) who are expected to pay for this nonsense. And we have no say in this - the government is hostage to industry and not representing the best interests of the Australian people.

I think we need a campaign of civil disobedience.

I am considering installing a few more panels and completely disconnecting from the grid. Labor is stuffing up the Feed In Tariff legislation at both state and national levels. No more of my money will go to coal fired power interests. And remember, buying Greenpower doesn't reduce emissions either. If you don't believe me, ask a retailer and see what they say.

I will refuse to pay for the Victorian desalination plant as we don’t use any Melbourne water - our 23,500 litres of tanks keeps us supplied.

Maybe I will also withold a proportion of my income tax that will be misdirected to the ludicrous fossil fool corporate welfare?

We need to stop carbon emissions, not reward them. The Rudd government's whitepaper is perverse.

Their own adviser, Ross Garnaut, now sidelined by the Rudd government, has strongly criticised the corporate welfare measures in the whitepaper.

Listen to all the weasel words from Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong about "per capita emissions".

It is really quite simple - are our emissions going down, and if so when?

The government's answer to this at present is "no", and "no commitment"

The so called, 5% reduction target is founded on the false pretence that Australia's greenhouse emissions did not rise from 1990 - 2000; hence the misleading claim that it makes little difference whether 1990 or 2000 is chosen as the base year. In fact Australia's real emissions rose by 18.98% in the 1990s (according to the AGO) but this fact is concealed by tricky carbon accounting introduced by the Howard government, which insisted on being the only developed country to include reduced land-clearing in its Kyoto calculations. This has become known as the "Australia Clause".

If Australia were to calculate its emissions on the same basis as all other developed countries this reduction of 5% relative to 2000 would actually be exposed as an increase in emissions of 13% relative to 1990. Kevin Rudd's top figure of a 15% reduction becomes an increase of 1%.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Will Kevin Rudd be a coal eating surrender monkey?

The Rudd Labor government is set to releases it's much awaited target for greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2020. What will will it be?

We have some some clues.

Rudd said on The 7.30 Report last week.

The second point I would say is this: is that this Government is determined absolutely to get the balance right. We understand the need for decisive action on the environment long term. If we fail to act there, the economic and environmental consequences for Australia are horrendous, as they would be globally. Secondly, we intend, also, in framing our approach to the carbon pollution reduction scheme to be entirely mindful of the difficult economic circumstances Australia and the world is facing as well. And I’m sure when this is delivered, early next week, we’ll get attacked from the left, from the right, we’ll get attacked by various radical green groups saying that we haven’t gone far enough because we haven’t closed down the coal industry by next Thursday.

So the governments PR tactics in dealing with climate change are revealed:

1. Frame the debate so that anyone who says Rudd’s weak target is weak is “a member of a radical green group trying to close down the coal industry”

Like Governor David de Kretzer, Professor Karoly, Al Gore, Malcolm Fraser, Arnold Schwartzeneggor, Barack Obama, Ban Ki-Moon, Prince Charles and Rupert Murdoch etc?

2. Make a token gesture towards renewable energy

Kevin Rudd announced today that the government would "bring forward $500m funding for renewable energy".

But he and Peter Garrett will keep the class warfare going with the cap on the solar rebate, and allow the dog’s breakfast of mostly woeful state Clayton’s feed-in tariff legislation to proliferate.

Whenever I hear the world “balance” from the government, I get a shiver down my spine.

Balance the wishes of the coal eating rent seeking surrender monkeys against the probable loss of the Great Barrier Reef, 3m sea level rises, and ice free (and 5 degree hotter) summer Arctic and no more snow in Australia?

This is not balance, this is capitulation and gross negligence.

The target? My guess is Rudd will come up with a 2020 target of a reduction of 10% (+/-5) and may even be audacious/hypocritical enough to also announce a long-term “aspirational” non-binding target of limiting greenhouse gases to 450ppm.

When we need a 40% by 2020 target, and to reduce GHG from the current 380 to 350 or lower.

Al Gore hit the nail on the head in Poland:

"We can’t negotiate the facts. We can’t negotiate the truth about the situation. And for those who are too fearful to finish, it can be done and must be done. Make sure we succeed, . . . It is wrong for this generation to destroy the habitability of our planet and ruin the prospects of every future generation."

And overseas:
  • European Union leaders in Brussels have juest set targets for EU greenhouse gas emissions reduced to 20 percent lower than 1990 levels by 2020.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger has set the following targets for California: 2000 levels by 2010, 1990 levels by 2020, 80% below 1990 by 2050

The problem with Kevin Rudd's Labor government is that they are:

  • Not listening to the Australian people who want immediate reductions in emissions
  • Captive to big business and industry - delivering a weak ETS that won't reduce emissions
  • Playing russian roulette with our environment (reef, Kakadu, snow, water for major cities, bushfires)
  • Neglecting obvious energy efficiency opportunities that can immediately reduce emissions and save us money
  • Propping up our high emissions motor industry rather then legislating for a transition to clean electric cars
  • Allowing the ongoing destruction of Australia's native forests resulting in emissions of up to 1000 tonnes per hectare, rather then protecting them immediately
  • Deliberately ignoring the latest science that now indicates we are in a climate emergency (Hansen, etc)
  • Playing politics and looking for weak compromise solutions when we need emergency action on emission reductions to ensure a safe climate future.
  • Once again consigning Australia to being a climate laggard, not a global leader.
And of course Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals are no better, and actually still even worse - they have more climate change denialists/delusionists in their ranks.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Preliminary analysis of the 2008 Victorian transport plan

Well, the transport plan is now out. I have read the Overview and attended the last part of the GAMUT forum held to discuss it yesterday.

The plan has been issued from a political bunker. Again, politics is really not delivering what people want or what Melbourne needs.

From the “Message from the Ministers”:

The message has been heard loud and clear: Victorians want more trains and better roads, more transport choice in the suburbs and regions, to feel safe when travelling, and to protect the environment by investing more in public transport, cycling, walking, better urban planning and greener vehicle technology. This is what The Victorian Transport Plan delivers.

But it does not deliver this.

The issues I see are:

  • No meaningful public consultation process. The majority of public feedback from the Eddington report has been glossed over or ignored.
  • $20b is going to roads and freeways - this is well over half of the$38b total budget
  • No carbon accounting or analysis of carbon outputs per transport mode/journey
  • Ongoing development of the freeway network - through very sensitive green belts (the Greensborough Templestowe connection) - which is pure RACV/Roads lobby agenda
  • A secret process - even a lot of the Department of Transport were kept in the dark and only found out about its contents when it was released.
  • No long term goals set - passenger journeys by mode, carbon emissions reduction, access to public transport, km of bike paths, km of railway. If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it
  • No significant budget increase for bike paths and routes, and no specific commitments, despite the fact that more bikes were sold last year than cars in Australia. $100m over 3 years would have been barely adequate; they have committed to a paltry $100m over 10 years - this will just buy some paint for lane markings
  • The real net cost to the economy of roads is not measured by Treasury, yet they continue to claim that “public transport costs more” - when the reverse is the case
  • No acknowledgment that more roads and freeways equate to more cars. Remember CityLink was going to “solve all Melbourne’s transport needs for the future”? No the South Eastern freeway/carpark is being widened for the second time since ($2b)
  • Unclear need for the Footscray to Domain rail tunnel. The rail tunnel is supposed to “provide more capacity for future train lines to connect in” yet this is not supported by evidence, and none of these train lines are actually on the drawing board (e.g. Rowville, Doncaster). Connex wants the tunnel, not the people of Melbourne.
  • Safe seats suffer the impact. Road tunnels through Labor/Green marginal seats have been omitted, but tunnels through safe Labor seats (such as in the Footscray area) have not.
  • Melbourne's eastern suburbs have missed out. No Rowville or Doncaster rail lines. Monash University misses out on a desperately needed railway service. Increased capacity on the Belgrave and Lilydale lines is delayed until after 2021.
This is the same bad process as the government’s water strategy. They consult secretly with industry and big business behind close doors, ignore the wisdom and needs of the public, and launch a half baked reactive plan along with an expensive (full newspaper pages) advertising.

Overall, 3/10. At least it is not 95% roads as previous plans have been.

More detailed analysis to follow.

If you live in Melbourne, contact your local MP and ask him to represent your wants and needs.

You can also contribute to 2008 Victorian transport plan, a wiki article on Greenliviningpedia.org


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Please ask John Lenders to stop logging Brown Mountain

There is some scrutiny this week in the Victorian parliament of VicForest's activities.

If you have time, please send a letter by close of business Tuesday 9/12 to John Lenders as the Minister responsible. Feel free to use/edit the one below.

More information and photos on the tragic logging of Brown Mountain is available if you need it here.

Protest at Parliament against Brown Mountain old growth destruction

Recently logged Brown Mountain old growth Shining Gum - November 2008
Brown Mountain old growth Shining Gum - possibly now destroyed.

Regards, Peter


Minister John Lenders, MLC
Treasurer, Leader of the Government, Legislative Council
Level 4, 1 Treasury Place,
East Melbourne 3002

Dear Minister Lenders,

I am writing to express my strong disapproval of the logging of old growth forest in progress at Brown Mountain that VicForests has approved. This area of forest, designated as old growth forest by the Department of Sustainability and Environment, should be protected in accordance with Labor policy released in 2006.

The policy in question stated that:

"In addition to the Goolengook Block, a Labor Government will immediately protect remaining significant stands of old growth forest currently available for timber harvesting by including them in the National Parks and reserves system."

There are more than 50 trees over 300 years old in this area of forest, which is adjacent to Errinundra National Park. This forest also provide habitat for threatened species such as the Powerful Owl, the Spot Tailed Quoll, mainland Australia's largest marsupial carnivore, and the Long-footed Potoroo, Victoria's rarest marsupial. This forest provides water for the depleted Snowy River catchment.

This forest also stores over 1000 tonnes of carbon per hectare, much of which is released as carbon emissions when the forest is clear felled and burnt. Locals had also recently constructed East Gippsland's first old growth forest walk in this forest, which the Department of Sustainability and Environment confirmed during site visits. Much of this has now already been destroyed, which is jeopardising tourism in the region.

Your parliamentary website lists your interests as bushwalking, camping, cycling, swimming. All these activities would be enhanced if this Brown Mountain forest, and the rest of Victoria's remaining old growth forests were protected.

VicForest's reports indicate that over 80% of what is logged when these forests are destroyed ends up as low value woodchips. There is much greater long term economic gain for Victoria if this forest is protected, thereby realising its ecotourism potential and its role in carbon storage and water production.

Can you please instruct VicForests to immediately cease the logging of Brown Mountain and all other remaining old growth forest in Victoria?

Yours faithfully

Email address
Telephone number

Friday, December 05, 2008

Transport plans for Melbourne and sustainability

I am away for a bike race this weekend - the Tour of Bright.

I have just read about what is likely to be in the Brumby Government's transport plan due for release.

What a disappointment. It seems the government will avoid once again any signficant investment in public transport and keep building more unsustainable roads and freeways.

The bad
  • Eddington freeway - Port to CityLink (freight, road). It may be needed, but more trucks and cars rather than rail.
  • Western Ring Road freeway connection investigation - to ruin the green belt in Greensborough, Diamond Creek and Warrandyte. More Los Angeles style "freeways to everywhere".
  • Freeway bypass around Frankston - having just constructed the unneeded and poorly used Eastlink, we now need to "extend the freeway" so that the precitable bottleneck at Frankston is eased, to ensure profits for Eastlink.
The ordinary
  • A very expensive $8b rail tunnel connecting Caulfield to Footscray, but this is deferred. The cynical might say it will never be built. I am not convinced it is needed, or should be a priority. Underground rail is 20 times more expensive than on the ground rail.
The good
  • South Morang rail extension. Long overdue; if it happens it will be the first significant rail line to be built since 1930.
  • Tarneit Rail link to growing western suburbs.
  • NO Clifton Hill - Footscray road tunnel. It is not needed, would have been hugely expensive, and of course just encouraged more car use.
The missing
  • No proper inner city metro for Melbourne
  • No rail for Rowville and Monash University (promised for years)
  • No rail for Doncaster (promised for years)
  • No airport rail link (still thousands of cars and taxis every day, and hundreds of buses)
  • No rail (light or heavy) for Melbourne's recent boundary expansions just announced by the Victorian Government (West and North of Melbourne)
I give the Brumby Government about 2/10 for this myopic and half baked transport plan. It was doomed to not deliver given the very restricted "East West Needs Assesment" brief that Eddington was given.
And of course, there will be no consideration or measurement of carbon emissions for transport options - which will be much higher for road and freeways.
In summary, the Victorian Goverment's transport planning is a bad as their water management strategy. Ill considered, focused on industry lobby groups, and basically ignoring sustainable transport options that will improve Melbourne's liveability. Thumbs down.