The Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Towards Paris - Australia's failing climate policy

Towards Paris - Australia's failing climate policy

The latest AYCC news and media from all across Australia

Towards Paris - Australia's failing climate policy

The Abbott Government continues to pursue a 'coal is good' agenda on climate policy. As we head towards the International Climate talks in Paris in late November/early December of this year, it continues to put Australia behind the eight ball on the international stage when compared with a majority of other countries and their climate targets. By Nathan Atterton, SA.

The current recently announced target by the Abbott Government of emission reductions of up to 26-28% by 2030 based on 2005 levels is at odds with comparable and similar developed countries. This includes the European Union, the USA, Germany, United Kingdom, and Switzerland who have all adopted targets between 30-50%. The Abbott Government argues that higher targets could cost the economy up to 10 times more.

However, it is doubtful that this takes into account the effect that climate impacts will have on the economy for not moving to renewable energy sooner and adopting higher targets that keep the average agreed temperature rise figure of below two degrees Celsius. The Government's Climate Change Authority, as set up by the previous Gillard Government, and whose role has also been heavily weakened by the Abbott Government since coming to office, is recommending cuts of up to more than double (45-63%) on that proposed.

Time is running out to solve the climate crisis, and Australia, despite being abundant in fossil fuels is also abundant in sunshine and wind. In fact it has recently been confirmed, as Labor Leader Bill Shorten pointed out, that Australia is the sunniest place on earth. So the actual potential for us to be the leader in renewable energy, and solar in particular is there for us all to contemplate. Contemplate exactly what this means for our economy and the jobs and prosperity that will flow as a result of embracing this new order. 

Labor's new target of 50% renewable energy goes some way to turning Australia from laggard to leader, or in another case 'keeping up'. This would give places such as Port Augusta in South Australia, a new lease of life. Where the replacement of the old coal fired power stations, currently owned and operated by Alinta Energy, with concentrated solar thermal technology (CST) would make the local community very happy and healthier. Pt Augusta for years has been suffering the effects of coal and emission dust on the rest of the town from the power plants.

Keeping up though is certainly not on the Government's Agenda, as there also appears no new replacement for the Direct Action Policy, where the Government effectively pays polluters for abatement activities. This has been heavily criticized as an excuse for those industries otherwise known as EITEI's (Emission Intensive Trade Exposed Industries) to receive government funding to continue polluting at levels still considered to be above what is socially and environmentally acceptable. Or more broadly, has been criticized for paying polluters to continue to pollute instead of implementing a market based mechanism such as an emissions trading scheme (ETS) or carbon tax (price on pollution) in which guides the market to produce 'good outcomes'.

However 'good outcomes' are currently on neither Party's to do list. Any new announcements and actual policy detail about climate policy remain locked up too close to the next election (whether early or not). So when Australia walks into the Paris meetings, they are certainly going to look the odd ones out. Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister, rather than Tony Abbott will take Australia's lead at the talks, and personally Abbott will probably be hoping that no major agreement is produced.

If it is however it may save the prospect of an early election (a possible double dissolution over the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). However, the electorate by then will probably have it's baseball bats ready to send a strong message to the Government that it truly is out of touch with the rest of the world and should be party to any new treaty that emerges. This given that recent polling by the Climate Institute indicates that over 59 percent of those surveyed indicated a stronger need to estimate the seriousness of the issue and that Australia should become a leader in finding solutions.

Australia's climate policy direction appears directionless, in a country where climate impacts are likely to be felt more acutely in comparison to others

By Nathan Atterton, a South Australian volunteer and life member of the AYCC. Read more from Nathan here: https://ndatters.wordpress.com/


Links and Further Reading:
http://www.theage.com.au/comment/too-little-to-late-australia-still-missing-from-serious-climate-change-debate-20150813-giyav6.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-11/tony-abbott-brushes-off-criticism-of-climate-targets/6688214

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-10/solar-coverage-fact-check-is-australia-sunniest-continent/6659316

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-14/emission-reduction-targets-not-enough-climate-change-authority/669903

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/aug/13/why-tony-abbotts-climate-strategy-wont-neutralise-the-environmental-argument

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/emissions-reductions-target-ranging-from-26-to-28-per-cent-to-be-put-to-coalition-partyroom-20150810-giw4tz.html

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