Whilst debate rages in the Australian Parliament over the Abbott Government’s misguided bill to repeal the ‘Carbon Tax’ Australia is becoming a climate pariah on the world stage at the UN Climate Summit in Warsaw.
Let’s face it; the entire point of introducing an emissions
trading scheme preceded by a fixed price on carbon emissions, is to slow down
and then reduce Australia’s carbon pollution output. That this needed a market-based, arguably punitive
scheme is self-evident. Businesses,
however, will constantly base their objections to the ETS on the spurious
justification that it will hurt local business in a trade-based economy. Well, yes it possibly will in the short term,
but this approach will induce business innovation and, ultimately, will have the
required effect on the outrageous carbon emissions result that Australia
currently boasts – along with Canada we are ‘the worst performing industrial
country in the world’ (Giles
Parkinson, Crikey 19 Nov 13).
|Delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw|
Photo courtesy of Brookings Institute
And here’s the thing: a great deal of the clamour coming from those opposed to an ETS/a price on carbon/climate action is on a purely economic basis. Because Australia is an economy primarily based on commodity sales, it is argued that to make the production and sale of these commodities more difficult and expensive will wreak havoc on our economy. Well, here’s a news flash, China (arguably our most important commodity market) has recently ‘shut down nearly 500 inefficient coal-fired power plants and plans to scale down coal use’ (Ross Gittins The Age 20 Nov 13). Surely this news alone would lead (and is leading) businesses to invest in R&D in the renewables sector.
|Early Start to 2013 Bushfire Season|
Photo courtesy of Frontiergap
|Executive secretary of UNFCCC Christiana Figueres. |
Photograph: Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA
Climate change, and more specifically, anthropogenic climate change, is a quintessential ‘first world problem’. Australia needs to step up and reclaim its former position as a constructive and engaged participant in international climate change action. Before it is too late and we simply abrogate our responsibilities to future generations we need to stop our slide into irrelevance in this debate.
In a stunning example of politically-motivated grandstanding for domestic consumption, Tony Abbott has made the ‘unprecedented step of dissenting on the final communique at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, joining with Canada in refusing support for the UN-sponsored green climate fund, which he dubbed the “green capital fund”’ (Ross Gittins The Age 20 Nov 13). He has refused to commit Australia to a fund that will assist developing nations in the Commonwealth combat anthropogenic climate change. But this is exactly what we, in concert with other developed nations, should be doing.
‘Without more funding, poorer countries won’t be able to get on a path to low-carbon development. Nor will they be able to deal with the huge issues of adapting to the temperature increases, extreme weather, ecosystem collapse and sea level rise that will result from climate change.’ (Ian Macgregor – The Conversation 20 Nov 13).
|Typhoon Haiyan Survivor|
Photo courtesy of Reuters
There is another week of negotiations and talks to be held in Warsaw but there seems to be little hope that Australia will reclaim the progress that has been made, put aside the short-sighted economic arguments and redouble our efforts to counteract the growing perception that we are, indeed, the environmental pariah at the table. Far from crab-walking away from our obligations as a developed and wealthy country, we need to take up this first world problem and act decisively, sensibly and expeditiously. Nothing else is good enough. And our planet and it’s future generations (our children) depend on it.