The road ahead

19 December 2007

An end of year message from the Greenpeace climate campaign team As the dust settles after a fractious UN climate conference in Bali, and we drift into the long, hot, summer break, it’s time to thank all of you for playing your part in turning up the heat for climate change action during 2007, and to take stock of where we’ve come to, and where we are heading. On being voted into government, Prime Minister elect Kevin Rudd moved to quickly ratify the Kyoto Protocol to the rapturous applause of the international community. Many of us who have been urging action on climate change for the past decade breathed a deep sigh of relief. It signalled the end of a decade of scepticism under John Howard, and an important symbolic step forward for Australia. There is a sense of optimism that finally, after years of banging our heads against the wall, things are starting to turn around. We now have the promise of 20% renewable energy by 2020, we’ve rejoined the international community and an emissions trading scheme is on the way. It is much easier to feel hopeful now than it was a year ago. But it’s still not easy. Less than a day after Australia announced it would ratify the Kyoto protocol, the Australian delegation in Bali were accused of undermining negotiations and weakening the draft text. On the opening day of the Bali conference, work started on the doubling of the world’s biggest coal export port in Newcastle, north of Sydney. New coal fired power stations are proposed for nearly every state in Australia, and over $10 billion of taxpayers’ money is still helping to subsidise fossil fuel use. Kevin Rudd went to the November election with policies that will see greenhouse pollution continue to increase significantly over the next decade. Sure, his policies were better than Howard’s – but they’re still taking us in the wrong direction. It’s easy to delay – to hide behind the ‘Garnaut Report’ and say we’ll just wait and see. But the truth is we don’t need more measurements or reports and we don’t need more spin. We need urgent action to make sure greenhouse pollution stops going up during the next term of Government and then decreases rapidly. This will be the true test of Rudd’s leadership. 2008 will be a crucial year. We need to radically increase the pace of climate action – and we’ll need your help to do it. Step one is to say no to new coal plants. Step two is to transfer the $10 billion of public subsidies from the fossil fuel industry to clean renewable energy. Step three is the debate about which dirty coal plant we close first and which renewable or efficiency policies we need to replace it. The vested interests of the coal and fossil fuel industries will continue muddle the debate and delay real action by promoting the oxy-moron of ‘clean coal’ – nothing more than a dirty lie. The arcane economic logic of emissions trading will bore everyone into a slumber and, if we’re not careful, will mean big public subsidies to the worst polluters and more delays. The world’s scientists are saying we need to cut greenhouse pollution dramatically within the next few years if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming. Not in fifty years, not in ten years, not even in five years. We need to start cutting emissions now. If someone or something you love is under threat, you defend it. Our children depend on this basic human instinct. We cannot just sit back and watch while scientists measure how quickly we are killing the earth. We need to take action to defend this beautiful blue green planet of ours and to defend the rights of our children and grandchildren to enjoy a living future. And, with your help, that’s exactly what we plan to do. So enjoy your summer break with friends and family. Enjoy the barrier reef, beaches, rivers, or wherever on this beautiful continent you happen to be, and rest well for another year. We look forward to working together with you in 2008. For the future Lou, Ben, Mark, Julien, Katie, Simon, Geoff & John The Greenpeace climate campaign team