Is Australia doing enough on climate change ? 5


A koalaTo Ecogeek, Australia plans to soon install a 1 gigawatt wind farm and this kind of project is due to be followed by more as the country plans to have 20 percent of its electricity coming from renewables by 2020.

This seems to be great but the current discussions at the local Senate are being delayed until August because of conservative lawmakers. Australia has much to fear from climate change and is already struggling with a massive drought.

So why aren’t the local elective representatives acting ? This puzzles me but I think that lobbying from coal companies have to do with this…


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5 thoughts on “Is Australia doing enough on climate change ?

  • Sarah

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  • Kiashu

    No, we are not doing enough.

    The current discussions are being delayed for two reasons.

    The Opposition consists of five groups or individuals.

    The first is the Liberals, who are economically liberal and socially conservative, and befriend large corporations. They oppose any emissions trading scheme as it’ll impose costs on their big business friends. They oppose renewable energy because it offers competition to “dig it up and sell it overseas”, Australia’s heavy use and export of coal, iron, etc.

    Next is the Nationals, who represent conservative rural people. They oppose emissions schemes because of the high fossil fuel and derivatives inputs into agriculture; anything that puts the cost of those up hurts their voting base, and most alternatives proposed (tramlines, etc) are found in cities, not built in rural areas.

    The Liberals tend to win around 35% the vote, the Nationals around 10%. The Nationals are typically forgotten in public discussion, and are essentially an appendix of the Liberals these days. Thus when in government they form a Coalition. They have slightly less than half the seats in the Senate.

    Now we have the Greens, who oppose the government’s emission scheme because 1/2 to 2/3 the permits will be simply given away to the largest polluters, and funds from the sale of the rest of the permits will be used to subsidise fuel and electricity for domestic consumers. Now, a carbon trading or tax system is based on the idea, “make it more expensive, and alternatives will appear for people to choose.” But the measures ensure that there’ll be no extra cost, so no alternatives will appear. Thus the scheme does not achieve its stated purpose.

    The Greens have five Senators, and thus control most but not all of the balance of power.

    There remain two independent Senators. One is Nick Xenophon, who is concerned about climate change, but worries about jobs and that the government scheme seems pointless; but if nothing else is on offer, he’ll vote for it. The other is Steven Fielding, who is a religious lunatic and basically a moron, as I write here.

    The Labor government lacks a majority in the Senate, so to pass the law it requires either the Opposition supporting it, or the five Greens plus Xenophon and Fielding. The Opposition and Greens have joined together to delay the vote, each for entirely different reasons.

    For the government to pass the trading scheme, it would have to please the Greens – they should be able to get a couple of Coalition Senators to cross the floor and vote against their own party. But if the scheme pleased the Greens, it would upset mining and energy companies, who have strong connections to all three major parties.

  • Edouard Post author

    That’s pretty complex. Here in France virtually everybody is on climate change mitigation. Thus the relative success of the Grenelle’s measures.

    As a matter of fact it is more a question on how we can combat climate change that if we have to do it.

    I am still amazed at the amount of deniers there are in Australia and America. Would this have to do with the anglo-saxon mentality ?

    Besides, the whole carbon trading stuff is to me a lot of noise for not much.

    I mean, reducing GHG emissions is good for everyone. Energy efficiency and conservation reduce the bills, which is a good idea as our energy is going to get much more expensive – let us keep in mind that oil prices already doubled, and that we are still far from being done with the economic downturn.

    Renewables generally generate more jobs and money that fossil fuels. I remember reading that the wind energy industry employs more people in the US than the coal industry.

    Another example: the good ol’ United States of America are sending away billions of dollars each month to the Middle East for oil. Using less oil would enable them to save some serious money that would be of use for their education and health systems (or else)

    Side calculation: at $70 a barrel they are sending $840 million each day overseas just for oil. That’s right, nearly a billion PER DAY.

    The whole situation makes me wonder of Human intelligence as a whole and scares me to heck as well.

    I wonder what will Copenhagen will bring us…

  • Kiashu

    There’s an old saying that it’s hard to make a man accept something if his salary depends on his not accepting it. Much of Australia’s economy depends on “dig it up and sell it overseas.” We have a large mining sector, and our conventional agriculture practices are effectively mining the fertile soil, as well as mining fossil (aquifer) water.

    It’s just the way we’ve always done things. Getting Australians to accept that resources will run short some day is like getting the French to accept that lots of wine and cheese will make you fat and ruin your liver.

    Carbon trading vs carbon taxes are a difficult one. Let’s be clear about their aim: they both aim to make the consumption of carbon more expensive, so that people seek and offer alternatives.

    With a carbon market, the theory is that we’ll issue X number of permits, and reduce how many we issue each year, but make them tradable. Like a ration card except with an open market instead of a black market. I’m sceptical of the efficiency of this. We didn’t abolish the slave trade by setting up a slave market, and we won’t abolish carbon by setting up a carbon market. The government will always be tempted to issue just a few more permits to raise cash and stop the screaming of industry. Just as governments don’t want to abolish alcohol, tobacco and gambling because they supply so much revenue which no-one complains about – unlike revenue from people’s wages, company profits, etc – they won’t want to abolish carbon.

    On the other hand, a tax works by making things more expensive… but then people get used to the new price. So to get continued reductions in consumption, you have to have continued rises in taxes. Which is not really politically likely over the 40 years or so we’d need to reduce carbon emissions to the right level.

    Whether it’s a tax or trade to me seems not to be very important. What’s important is how we spend the money raised. It’s pointless to (for example) make driving your car to work cost half what you’ll earn that day if the person has no other way of getting to work. They drive because it’s that or have no job. So you have to take the money raised to put in bicycle lanes, railways and that sort of thing. People can’t choose alternatives if there are none.

  • Edouard Post author

    Agreed on tax and trading as well on the alternatives.

    Where I am NOT agreeing is on your stereotyping on French, and this for several reasons.

    French already know that too much wine is bad for them, this is to the point that wine makers are having some difficulties. The French gov. has very strict laws on drinking and driving that doesn’t allow people to drink more than two glasses when they drive.

    On cheese, I have no data, so I won’t say anything. Oh, yes, people are getting more and more obese but it isn’t a question of cheese I reckon. If you are THAT interested on the issue, I may have a look at data from my dad or the Internet.