Looking Out Over A Climate-Changing World

10 July 2009

brindisi11.jpgAs I write this, I’m 200 metres above the most polluting power station in Italy. Brindisi (which I’m assuming is Italian for “blows a gale”) is a long way from home but six other Greenpeace activists and myself have made it our temporary home, occupying the top of the massive smoke stack.

This is by far and away the country’s most polluting power station, equivalent in scale to something like Eraring, one of New South Wales’ carbon goliaths. If you added up the emissions from the least 40 polluting nations in the world you get Brindisi. Even though we would certainly like this power station replaced with renewable energy, our issue here is much bigger.

Because, also as I write, the heads of G8 nations are meeting in Italy. More than 100 Greenpeace activists are occupying four coal-fired power stations simultaneously and here at Brindisi, another team is preventing the feed of coal into the plant.

The G8 is one of the most powerful political bodies in the world, yet the targets put in place by these developed countries are an open door for many more coal-fired power plants to be built, and virtually guarantee catastophic climate change. Worst of all, weak action from the countries with the most historical responsibility, greatest capacity to act and the most political sway sets the tone for the rest of the world.

The call at the G8 is for leadership: targets on the table that would lead us to a safe climate. Prime Minister Rudd will be joining the Major Economies Forum this week, as part of the G8. Sure, he doesn’t quite possess the political gravitas as the G8, but his “leadership defecit” on climate change is quite prounced these days, what with his pathetic target of 4% in greenhouse pollution reductions by 2020 and allowing the massive expansion of the export coal industry.

Let’s face it: Prime Minister Rudd is something of a diplomatic disaster zone on climate change. This has to improve, and it can happen if he puts some targets on the table that are consistent with avoiding catastrophic climate change. 50% by 2050, Mr Rudd. That’s your test of strength on climate change.