A notable absence of truth in the climate change debate has come from the Opposition’s Greg Hunt all year, and his latest misrepresentations are true to form.
No personal offence to Greg, but it does pay to do your homework occasionally. I have represented Australia at many of this year’s international climate change negotiations, so attending Doha on behalf of the Climate Change Minister is fairly logical and not so remarkable.
We understand your motives. You don’t have much to hang your hat on. First, let’s deal with the Opposition’s pretence – or is it ignorance? - that there is no international action.
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A notable absence from the climate change talks in Doha this week is Minister Greg Combet.
No personal offence to Mark Dreyfus, who as Parliamentary Secretary is standing in, but the absence of a Minister is a clear signal that despite the domestic rhetoric, the Government has low expectations of any outcome.
At a time when the Government is vehemently arguing that Australia is in line with the rest of the world with its carbon tax, the reality is quite different.
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The Gillard Government is determined to get a victory on carbon emission penalties within 12 months, and a key factor in this political process could be the latest weather reports.
The general public was more receptive to the arguments for global warming the last time the weather was big news, when Australia was dealing with record drought and lethal bush fires.
They might be willing to listen again following the counter events of massive flood and wild winds across much of the continent.
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The Labor government is clearing the decks to position itself for the forthcoming federal election. After resolving the mining tax dispute, and adopting a position on asylum seekers, climate change is the last issue Gillard must address before the campaign. Whatever policy the Gillard government adopts must account for the scale of the climate crisis.
Current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are already so high that if unchecked will push the climate system past significant tipping points. This worst-case scenario poses an unacceptable risk of dangerous and irreversible changes to the climate, to biodiversity, and human civilisation. These adverse climate changes will affect Australia’s food and water security, and increase the risk of regional instability.
The worst of these impacts can be avoided, but only if Australia, together with other major polluters acts now and at a scale the challenge demands.
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Don’t worry if you don’t understand what the ETS is supposed to do or what the letters even stand for. You’re not alone.
Peter had no idea what the letters E, T and S stood for when we asked him, but did manage his own summary of the policy: ‘It’s gonna cost extra. You don’t get anything for free. Soon they will be taxing the air that we breathe.” Well they kinda are actually Pete, at least what we put into it.
With all the debate about Climate Change and the focus very much on the ETS, here at The Punch we decided it would be a good idea to go out and see what people actually knew about it.
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In 2007, Chris Goodall contended that walking may cause more environmental harm than driving.
A noted that a 5km drive would add 1kg of carbon to atmosphere while a walk would seemingly add nothing if you just looked at its direct effects. However, Goodall contended that for many people, they would need more energy to sustain a regular 5km walk. To make up the 180 calories would likely generate 3.6kg in carbon emissions. The trade-off wasn’t even close.
What is significant is that Goodall wasn’t some member of an anti-environmental think tank but himself a strong environmentalist and the author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life.
And it was he who was suggesting, contrary to one of Al Gore’s dicta in An Inconvenient Truth, that substituting driving for physical transportation might not be environmentally-friendly at all; even if it is friendly to your physical health.
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