The election of denial and delay

Leading into this Saturday’s election, Greenpeace sent all Parties and sitting members our election asks.

The Greens are the only party that have responded directly to us. The Coalition and the ALP have released various relevant policies over the course of the election campaign.

The good news first. This is the short bit.

The ALP has announced the details of legislation to prevent the import of illegal timber. If implemented, the legislation will be world class and will, along with EU and US legislation, provide strong signals to illegal logging industries and countries that their markets are closing down. Greenpeace has been invited to be active participants in the development of the legislation.

The Greens, not surprisingly, continue to provide important environmental policies and leadership. They are supportive of all Greenpeace election asks.

Additionally, the Greens are likely to secure the balance of power. Perhaps they can use that leverage to bring the ALP and Coalition into the 21st century.

The bad news. On climate change there is, as Bernard Keane from Crikey has said “a bipartisan policy of protecting the economic interests of polluters.”

We are faced with two sets of bad climate policies that fail to achieve necessary cuts in emissions, fail to transition away from a pollution-driven economy and fail to show ambition, courage or leadership.

Both parties now promise they can reach a 5% emissions reduction on 2000 levels by 2020. It’s not clear what happened to the 25-40% cuts that the UN has said are necessary in order to avoid runaway climate change. Tony Abbott did mention during the election that he now accepts that we live on one planet. Maybe that’s a step forward. Gillard has announced that she accepts the science. She just prefers to ignore it.

The Coalition is running on a direct action platform. It will be an outrageously expensive taxpayer funded subsidy for the big polluters. They oppose a less expensive market mechanism, because it will be an impost on taxpayers.

On the other hand, the ALP is simply delaying any real action on climate change. They may or may not accept a price on carbon. They may or may not re-introduce an emissions trading scheme.

The ALP has released more detailed climate information during this campaign than the Coalition. They have announced cash for clunkers – high cost abatement with the funds being taken from the solar flagship programme. Their carbon farming initiative will be funded from the renewable energy future fund. They have announced some kind of pollution performance standard for coal fired power plants, but both the timing of the standard and its thresholds are likely to mean that it won’t prevent any of the 12 proposed new coal fired power plants from being constructed.

The ALP has made it clear it will not offend the big polluters by living up to its commitment to eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. They took a creative approach to avoiding that commitment, announcing that Australia has no inefficient fossil fuel subsidies to eliminate! It is estimated that taxpayers hand over up to nine billion dollars annually in support of fossil fuels in Australia. Support for renewables is dwarfed by that figure.

The Coalition has not made many climate announcements during the campaign and has relied on policy announcements made in February and endless repetition that they are taking action. Their policy relies heavily on providing an income source for farmers but it isn’t clear that it will reduce our emissions. It certainly won’t reduce industrial emissions.

Neither party has a policy on genetically engineered (GE) food, except generally to support continued research, development and facilitation.

Neither party mentions labelling in their policies. The ALP has initiated a labelling review that will report back to Government before the end of the year. Greenpeace has called for full GE labelling and for labelling of fish products so that species, catch method and catch location are all identified on packaging and consumers can make informed choices about what they buy.

The Coalition has taken the spectacular backwards step of opposing further marine reserves in Australia. Incredibly, this bit of nonsense is coming from the recreational fishing industry, which obviously doesn’t believe the mountain of science that says closures increase the number and size of fish.

If 2007 was the climate election, 2010 is the election of denial and delay. It is difficult to overstate how poorly the major parties have performed on environmental issues that will affect the lives and livelihoods of all Australians for generations to come.

  • Steve

    I really can’t see why Australian’s get their knickers in a twist over our paltry contribution to global CO2 emissions. I think Labor and Coalition politicians may have it in its proper global perspective. After all, when you just consider China any expensive sacrifice we make to reduce our 1.28% of global emissions are just silly.

    China currently produces around 17 times more CO2 than Australia.
    Every MONTH China emits more than what Australia does in a year.
    China’s emissions will GROW at a rate 4.4 times faster than Australia’s between now and 2035.
    In 2035 China will emit Australia’s annual current (2007) contribution to global CO2 every ten days.
    In 2035 China will emit Australia’s projected annual (2035) contribution to global CO2 every twelve days.
    Thus, by 2035 the annual growth of Australia’s emissions which ClimateWorks and the Greens are so concerned about will be worth a mere TWO DAYS of China’s future emissions.

    In 2007 China alone accounted for 22.3% of global CO2 emissions. The US accounts for 19.91% of global CO2 emissions and in third place is India with 5.5% and in sixteenth place is Australia which accounted for 1.28%.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions
    (who gained their data from: United Nations Statistics Division, Millennium Development Goals indicators: Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), thousand metric tons of CO2 (collected by CDIAC))

    The US Energy Outlook: Industry Statistics and Analysis report of May 2010 states:
    “Much of the projected increase in coal use occurs in non-OECD Asia, which accounts for 95 percent of the total net increase in world coal use from 2007 to 2035 (Figure 5). Increasing demand for energy to fuel electricity generation and industrial production in the region is expected to be met in large part by coal. For example, installed coal-fired generating capacity in China more than doubles in the Reference case from 2007 to 2035, and coal use in China’s industrial sector grows by 55 percent.”
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/highlights.html

    ClimateWorks predict that by pursuing business as usual Australia’s emissions will increase by 0.9% per year … or the decimal fraction 0.009.
    http://www.climateworksaustralia.com/Low Carbon Growth Plan Report Summary.pdf.

    Hopefully the elctorate will keep things in perspective too and deny the Greens the balance of power in the Senate.

  • We must soon learn to create more green jobs to invest money for this outcome. We need to keep our economic growth recovered with green jobs and more hybrid technology. But for this, we must have our economy that is low-carbon and that will be suited for environmental or conservation purposes. We need to also have a climate deal, and start to reduce carbon greenhouse gas emissions within the next 6 years. We need to reduce them by 30% by 2020, and by 90 or 100% by 2050. But we need a climate deal by 2011. I can not afford to see global warming becoming out of control and threatening our health, economy, security etc etc. We are suffering MORE droughts, storms and water shortages if governmental societies of Australia fail to address on. The world WILL suffer high sea levels by a meter by the end of this century. This will affect a quarter of the world’s population and will affect ecosystems and push wildlife to extinction. Also, biodiversity is in sharp decline. What that REALLY tells us, is that will are all in DEEP trouble, and we must learn to conserve the world’s natural resources. We are consuming them, far too fast!

  • Edward Leighton

    Steve, Australia is one of the biggest exporters of coal. There are plans to double the export, which would make Australia the third exporting country of the world. Therefore, Australia is responsible for global warming. I wonder what would remain from the profit of coal if they should pay for damages caused by global warming.

  • Steve

    Thanks Edward, a couple of points:

    If China did not but our coal they would buy it from someone else … South Africa for example whose coal has, I’m told, a higher sulphur content than ours. So, Australia gutting our export industry and thus our national wealth and thuis our standard of living will be all for nothing.

    Secondly:
    The US Energy Outlook: Industry Statistics and Analysis report of May 2010 states: “Increasing demand for energy to fuel electricity generation and industrial production in the region is expected to be met in large part by coal. For example, installed coal-fired generating capacity in China more than doubles in the Reference case from 2007 to 2035, and coal use in China’s industrial sector grows by 55 percent.”

    If we deprive China of their capacity to lift the standard of living of their citizens by the industrial use of coal … for example to make steel and aluminium … how will you sleep at night?

    I find your inhumanity astounding.

  • HmmmNow

    Edward – to follow on from Steve’s comments, and expand a little on his first point: you seem very ready to send regional Queensland and New South Wales, where most of the coal mining is done in Australia, back to the dark days when regional Australia was really struggling – before the mining companies came along and injected significant wealth into the regional economies (not to mention the national economy throught the taxes they pay). I, too, find your inhumanity astounding – how dare you risk the livliehoods of thousands of Australians so crassly!

  • masealake

    Who must learn from Australia election 2010?

    The Australia historical hung parliament demonstrated the big gap of inequality society between the small educated elite groups who get highest pay by talk feast used mouth work controlling live essential resources of the country in every social platforms against the biggest less educated groups who get lowest pay by hands work squeezed by discriminative policies that sucking live blood from poor/less wealth off?

    Voters’ voices do not hear?
    Voters’ pains do not ease?
    Voters’ cries do not care?

    1. Poverty will not be phase out if no fairer resources to share;
    2. Illness will not be reducing if no preventive measurement in real action;
    3. Agriculture will not be revitalize if urbanization continuing its path;
    4. Housing affordability will not be reach for young generation if government continues cashing from young generation debt by eating out the whole cake of education export revenue without plough back;
    5. Manufacture industry will shrink smaller and smaller if no new elements there to power up to survive;
    6. Employability will not in the sustainable mode for so long as manufacture and agriculture not going to boost.

    Ma kee wai
    (Member of Inventor Association Queensland since 1993)

  • masealake

    Why believe coalition economic plan works without revitalize agriculture and manufacture industries??
    It’s all about power and money most Politicians and parties wanted above all and after all election?
    Just listen how Barry O’Farrell convincing voters: “People are our asset. They are our greatest wealth and they should be given the opportunity to pursue their dreams?” On the issue of economic management, Mr O’Farrell was asked what he thought was the state’s greatest source of wealth, given NSW lacked a resources industry.
    Take a look below the link subject: “Time for Action” in “Healthy Active Life” program that convert Broken hill into a Healthy Las Vergas Broken Hill economy? Link with http://www.streetcorner.com.au/news/showPost.cfm?bid=20747&mycomm=ES
    … .
    When we look at what today’s shrinking industries, such of agriculture (34% of fruit and 19% of vegetables imported); manufacture (10.5% by 2005–6) destructed by John Howard’s coalition government.
    Will you then still believe Mr Barry O’Farrell’s coalition opposition announced positive and practical policies which will help revitalize agriculture and manufacture industries for create more sustainable jobs, and innovative export products?
    Remember, it’s not one person to construct or destruct the whole lots of industries, it’s the matter of whole political party/government?
    Will you also believe there were only 1-2 Politicians responding to this greatest “Healthy Las Vergas Broken Hill economy model”?
    Why the most Politicians do fail their own test in spend little brain work to revitalize agriculture and manufacture industries who with $1.65 million Tax payer’s money each annual spending for?
    Masealake (Member of Inventor Association QLD)

  • masealake

    Why believe coalition Supporting Local Communities?
    It’s all about power and money most Politicians and parties wanted above all and after all election?
    Just listen how Barry O’Farrell convincing voters: “Over the last four years I announced positive and practical policies which will help support local communities……..” .
    Take a look below the link subject: “Time for Action” in “Healthy Active Life” program that convert Broken hill into a Healthy Las Vergas Broken Hill economy? Link with http://www.streetcorner.com.au/news/show… , will you then still believe Barry O’Farrell’s announced positive and practical policies which will help support local communities……..” ?
    Will you also believe there were only 1-2 Politicians responding to this greatest “Healthy Las Vergas Broken Hill economy model”? Why do the most Politicians not pass this simple political test who with$1.65 million each annual spending for?
    Please noted: MR, Barry O’Farrell yet responds in this greatest community health/economic development from the first (07/02/2011), and the second letter (17/02/2011) also link with http://www.streetcorner.com.au/news/show… .)
    Masealake (Member of Inventor Association QLD)