Not the great white hope, just plain ordinary.
The Rudd Government's much anticipated white paper set a greenhouse emissions target reduction of 5% by 2020. A bitter disappointment, gut wrenching even to have put so much faith in this new government, only to find that they are not up to it, not up to dealing with climate change. I was expecting 20% which is still way too low, but 5% is a joke.
The stakes are so high, the need to act is so urgent and our leaders and the world’s leaders are too busy playing politics, to deal with the clear and present danger climate change represents. No Great Barrier Reef, no coral, no snow, no polar icecaps, no polar bears, no harp seals. Wild weather, seas rising, millions homeless.
As Leunig put it, there’s a dark force threatening our way of life and the dark force is our way of life.
Disbelief swept through environment organisations and climate conscious people with the release of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White paper and its target of a 5% reduction. Friends of the Earth called it a recipe for disaster, Humane Society International shamed the Government and said they had set Australia on the path to climate catastrophe. Environment Business Australia saw it as an opportunity missed, the Australian Conservation Foundation said the Government had failed a crucial leadership test and Greenpeace called it a betrayal. A betrayal of the science, a betrayal of the community and a betrayal of the next generation who will have to live with climate change impacts.
According to Greenpeace a 5% reduction means that in 5 years emissions will be higher than they are today. Also in the scheme some of Australia’s dirty coal power stations will receive nearly $4 billion to keep polluting. Half a billion will go towards a new rail line and to double the size of the Newcastle coal port, which is already the world’s largest coal export port. This project alone will offset the 5% reduction ten times over.
Internationally it’s an embarrassment, no wonder the Government was being coy in Posnan, Poland, the week before at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks, by refusing to announce the target. According to Stephanie Long of Friends of the Earth who was in Posnan, the Australian government acted as spoilers. Along with the Canadian and Japanese governments they effectively ensured that nothing binding happened, by consistently arguing that developing countries needed to make targets before they would consider any action.
Interesting to note that the same negotiatiors who represented Australia under Howard, Robert Owen Jones and Jan Adams, also represented the Rudd government and continued to undermine the Kyoto Protocol.
On the positive side a coalescence of campaigners and individuals from all over the country are converging on Canberra for a climate summit. It’s on from January 31st to February 3rd and a human chain will encircle Parliament on its first sitting day for 2009. People are being asked to wear red or carry long red banners or placards because red is the theme colour for emergency.
For more information go to www.climatesummit.org.au
Please take a few minutes and write to our elected representatives asking them to take really serious action, really fast. You could also become a climate change information ambassador and talk it up with your families and friends. We need to build a movement of people more powerful than the big polluters.
The Hon Maria Justine Elliot, ALP (Justine) Member for Richmond.
Minister for Ageing
Suite 6, Hallmark Centre (PO Box 6996), 107-111 Minjungbal Drive,
Tweed Heads South NSW 2486
Tel : (07) 5523 4371, Fax : (07) 5523 4379
Canberra office Tel: (02) 6277 7280 Fax: (02) 6273 4138
Ms Janelle Anne Saffin, ALP Member for Page.
61-63 Molesworth Street, Lismore NSW 2480
Tel : (02) 6621 9909, Fax : (02) 6621 9959
Canberra office Tel: (02) 6277 4323 Fax: (02) 6277 85
The Hon Peter Robert Garrett, ALP AM
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.
Level 6 Maroubra Gateway Building (PO Box 249),
806-812 Anzac Pde, Maroubra NSW 2035
Tel : (02) 9349 6007, Fax : (02) 9349 8089
Tel: (02) 6277 7640 Fax: (02) 6273 6101