'No more tailpipes, no more smokestacks'

Issue 

Resistance's Zane Alcorn spoke to Matthew Wright, a climate and energy campaigner from Beyond Zero Emissions. Wright is speaking at the Resistance 2010: the World can't Wait! national conference, which will be held in Wollongong from April 24-26.

What is Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE)?

BZE is a climate campaign centre with a view to de-carbonising each sector of the economy and concurrently drawing down existing atmospheric CO2, because there is too much in the air today.

It is a volunteer-run campaign — all the main work is done by volunteers. So I think we have a different dynamic to some of the mainstream environment groups.

What does BZE do?

One of the main things we do is research, and wrapped around that is a multifaceted campaign to take that research and turn it into real action. Part of that is a discussion group and radio show, which give our constituency access to leading experts in climate science and solutions from around the world.

What is the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 energy report?

It's a technical blueprint for taking the economy from where it is today to being fully de-carbonised.

The report is technical, not political, but if someone wants to make a political campaign, this is the resource you need to describe what you are working towards.

It makes clear distinctions about what is a political ask, what is an ideological ask and then what is just a concrete, steel and glass kind of ask.

What do you think the priorities are for young climate activists to be campaigning around in 2010?

I think everyone needs to up-skill themselves a little so we have a bit of aptitude, and then we need to expand the movement — we need to bring in lots more people.

We need thousands of active people, a few hundred thousand, who are willing to get out of their chair over this. It's numbers versus lobby dollars. And we need clear messaging to achieve that; as simple as "no more tailpipes, no more smokestacks".

A member of BZE is attending the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia later this month. What do you hope to get out of the conference?

We've sent one of our campaigners, Pablo Brait, to see if the Bolivian government, or a group of South American governments, would want assistance identifying some key technologies to replace diesel generators for rural electrification.

In the short term, Venezuela is providing subsidised oil to Bolivia, which is probably helping and being met with open arms. But in the long term, that's not providing energy security or autonomy. It's creating a dependence nightmare really.

We think we can identify some pretty cheap solar thermal and large-scale remote wind technology that can be bought and deployed there.

How important is international collaboration for the climate movement?

I think it's really important. Global agreements are paramount, but we shouldn't use the fact that we haven't achieved that as a reason to do nothing domestically. Australia doesn't lead at anything apart from polluting the planet! Hopefully we can change that.

[To find out more about BZE, visit: beyondzeroemissions.org. To find out more about the Resistance national conference, or to register, visit resistance.org.au.]

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