Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Al Gore treads the middle road

I attended the launch of Safe Climate Australia over breakfast on Monday 13 July in Melbourne. The guest speaker was Al Gore, who I was very keen to hear.

I regard the Inconvenient Truth as one of the better movie-documentaries I have seen. It struck a chord with me when I viewed it, particularly Gore's observations about the shortcomings of the United States political system with respect to tackling climate change.

Gore speaks very well. His delivery is excellent. He engages the audience and looks about in a calm but forceful manner.

His content was good to. He spoke about the climate emergency the need for urgent action. But then he slipped up. He praised the Rudd government for displaying global leadership on climate change.
While this statement may be politically correct, it is factually untrue. Australia's proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will not reduce emissions, but he didnt go into this.

I felt there was a gap between his rhetoric and his call for action. If governments around the world don't set the right policies and legislation to drastically reduce carbon emissions they will greatly hamper our ability to ensure a safe climate future.

We can't lock in failure to reduce carbon emissions, which is what the CPRS will do.

I think Gore was intent on delivering a positive message and unifying some of the fractures that have emerged between environment groups intent on political lobbying and those that are more closely aligned with the latest science and grass roots climate action groups.

However, as I have observed recently, our political process, the structure of our governments, and the influence industry has over them are part of the climate change problem at present, rather than part of the solution.

We need to build a movement with grass roots engagement that cannot be denied by recalcitrant goverments, and we need to recreate the political process so that people really do engage with it, trust it, and be truly represented.

This sounds odd doesn't it? Political and government systems that people want, like and trust! It is a real challenge to achieve this, but I feel we really need this to facilitate the paradigm shifts required to move to a low carbon society with a safe climate future.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Is Kevin Rudd really a climate pessimist?

Some curious statements by Kevin Rudd have been reported from the G8 chinwag.

On the one hand he states publicly that the world should strive to reach agreements on reducing carbon emissions at Copenhagen and the importance of this.

Then in a quieter conversation with the Danish PM (maybe off the record, but recorded?) he says he is "pessimistic about the world reaching agreement on reducing carbon emissions at Copenhagen" and that "our negotiators are hampered".

Our negotiators are hampered - by the Rudd Government's policy settings for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme - which thankfully has not yet been passed by the Senate, and hopefully won't be.

The CPRS sets an upper cap on Australia's negotiating range of 25% reductions by 2050, and has a measly and demonstrably inadequate 5% committed (minimum) target. Which is equivalent to no emission reductions.

So here are some tips for you Kevin:
  • Set the negotiating range as 25% to 100% by 2050
  • Set real targets for annual tangible emission reductions - which means no increases every henceforth, and no offsets
  • Display leadership on this issue - not pessimism
  • Focus on the thousands of green jobs associated clean energy research, development, manufacturing, installation and exports.
  • Announce a twenty year transition off fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas
  • Stop listening to entrenched industry interests that are polluting your government's policies and response to climate change - and start listening to the people.
It's your job to do this Kevin. You are the leader of our country.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sustainable water solutions are needed not costly ineffective ones.

It is hard not to draw the conclusion that Tim Holding and the Brumby government are in a state of panic over Melbourne's reduced water supplies.

Water Minister Tim Holding's continual refusal to enact cost effective and high water yield options such are recycling waste water (200 gigalitres per year), capturing stormwater and more domestic water tanks (200 gigalitres), stopping logging in water catchments (30 gigalitres) is just not acceptable.

Recycling more water would have the added benefit of stopping pollution from the ocean outfall at Gunnamatta beach.

Instead he is intent on building a pipeline that will deliver very little water to Melbourne, and the extremely expensive desalination plant that will belch out greenhouse gases and destroy an pristine coastline.

Its time to go Tim.