Dear Prime Minister,
AUSTRALIAN diplomats have been accused of helping turn UN climate talks in Poland into "groundhog day" by failing to support a proposal that rich countries look to the advice of climate scientists when setting greenhouse targets. (The Age, 10/12/2008)
I am following up regarding my recent telephone call to your office. Please note that following my conversation with your courteous receptionist, I was transferred through to Penny Wong’s office to ask these same questions and, along with my colleague Terrie Hamilton-Smith, am awaiting your earliest response:
- Under your Government’s proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS), when do you foresee Australia’s spiralling greenhouse gas emissions to start falling?
- Given that the Government’s stated aim is to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, why is it not introducing a national, gross-metered feed-in-tariff to stimulate zero emission energy technologies, like nearly 50 other nations have done so far?
- Does it concern you that the creation of pollution permits (which resulted in the EEC’s model failing to reduce emissions) to be given away via the CPRS to the 1,000 largest polluters will result in conscientious households and businesses who use less energy and create less pollution simply generating permits to allow other families or other businesses/industries to increase their own emissions?
- What is going to make your ETS work when the EEC system has failed to reduce emissions? Where is the incentive to reduce emissions below the cap? Where is the stimulus/regulation for those not governed by the CPRS to reduce emissions and be rewarded for this?
- Do you understand the ramifications of losing the Arctic sea-ice? Do you understand that you will not get a second chance?
- Do you understand why NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies’ Director, Dr James Hansen, and other eminent climate scientists, have concluded that we must reduce the current atmospheric CO2 level (387ppm and rising) to at most 325ppm to have a hope of restoring Arctic sea-ice and therefore a climate capable of sustaining life on earth as we know it? Do you appreciate that these figures are not negotiable and cannot be adjusted for political expediency?
- Do you accept eminent scientists’ views that in order to stabilise the climate we must take heed of the short term advantage of the in-built delays (aka slow feedbacks) in the climate system and take emergency action to achieve near-zero emissions as soon as humanly possible while actively drawing down atmospheric carbon with techniques such as biochar?
- Is your Government really planning to use CPRS funds to prop up coal-fired power stations?
- Given that zero-emission electricity generation technologies such as concentrated solar thermal and wind are available now and are being deployed on a massive scale in Germany, Spain, Denmark and parts of the USA, why are Australian taxpayers funding the oxymoronic "clean coal", or rather the newly branded (at massive expense) "NewGenCoal"? Do you not view Government support and funding of private multi-national vested interests as inconsistent with and totally counter-productive to the Government’s policy objectives?
- Given your Government’s stated aim is to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, have your advisors considered refuelling our existing coal-fired power stations with natural gas – which would nearly halve their emissions within a few years, and then progressively shutting the stations down, starting with the most polluting first, over a period of say ten years while replacing their capacity with a massive roll-out of wind and solar, and societal energy efficiency programs?
- Does it interest you that energy intense multinational corporations will be urgently seeking stable countries capable of providing large scale low emission energy sources, such as concentrated solar thermal, which would enable them to stay competitive as the world enters a low carbon era?
- Since the challenges of climate change, peak oil and the financial crises require an integrated solution, why did you not tie in the $10billion stimulus package to “low emissions” spending (eg requiring such monies to be spent on energy efficient appliances/water tanks/solar panels etc,) thus saving pensioners, families and businesses money on their energy costs in the long term whilst at the same time reducing emissions and stimulating job creation and sales in sustainable industries?
- Do you see the dire warning signs for our climate and our economy in remaining in a quarry; propping up old industries and old technologies when our country is ideally placed to deliver valuable, sustainable zero emission energy on a large scale?
- Just over a year ago your Government was given a mandate to act on climate change. Do you really want to adopt policies which will see Australia sink further into the quarry and lose what remaining hope is left to avert catastrophic climate change under your watch?
- Do you realise that, as our climate becomes less conducive to sustaining our vast global populations (which are now all inter-connected, as the recent global financial crisis clearly demonstrates), the financial system/economy as we know it will become unworkable and ultimately collapse? Do you appreciate that a safe climate and a healthy economy are intimately connected?
- Just because others persist in engaging in human slavery, does that mean it is ok and we should also engage in it? Hasn’t history proven countless times that leadership requires bold action, particularly at times when others are not following suit?
At last count there were 300 local climate change action groups working tirelessly to bridge the divide between what is known by climate scientists about global warming and what is known by policy makers and the general public. Please view LIVE’s numerous submissions.
It would not be wise politics for any government in the 21st century to underestimate the community’s deep and growing concerns about climate change. You must listen first and foremost to the climate change policies presented to you by highly qualified progressive economists and policy analysts who understand the science of global warming and the economically viable solutions available here and now, not as has been the case for too long, those of vested, private interests whose profits are under threat.
Deborah Hart and Terrie Hamilton-Smith