As federal Parliament resumes this week, climate change is back on top of the agenda. Both sides continue treating the issue like a political football. It’s a bit like being diagnosed with cancer and then having your doctors endlessly squabble about what to do about it.
The reality is that while Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott bicker, there are plans to build 12 new coal power stations in Australia. Neither Rudd’s CPRS nor Abbot’s hodge-podge policy will stop them being built.
If all of these plants are constructed, they will increase Australia’s total annual greenhouse emissions by approximately 39 Mt CO2-e, or around 7% compared to 2008 emission levels.
Emission for the electricity generation sector have already grown by a whopping 54% in the last 20 years and approval of the proposed 12 new power stations will add a further 20% growth in future years.
CPRS or not, Australia is locking itself into an economy fuelled by the most polluting energy source available. Rather than preventing new coal plants and driving investment in renewable energy, the CPRS will see Australian money flooding abroad as offsets. The so-called “direct action” climate policy the federal coalition also fails to address the crucial and obvious question of new coal.
We need direct action, but not of the kind that Abbott is proposing. We need to ban new coal plants and start implementing policies that will begin to wean our economy off the addiction to fossil fuels.