So now we have a carbon price in Australia. The sky hasn’t fallen in but neither are we getting anywhere near doing what needs to be done to respond to the climate change crisis.
Australia currently gets its energy in this mix:
• Fossil fuels: 95%, comprising coal: 39%, gas: 22%, petroleum: 35%
• Renewables: a miserable 5%.
According to the Labor government's own projections, with the carbon price, by 2035 Australia's energy mix will be:
• Fossil fuels: 91%, comprising less coal at 21%, more gas at 35%, petroleum: 36%
• Renewables: rising slightly to 9%.
Basically all the carbon price will do is give the gas mining, refining and distribution companies a leg-up.
Domestic carbon emissions are projected to continue to grow for another 15 years to 2027. A cut in emissions of 5% by 2020 — the stated goal — will be achieved only by buying overseas carbon credits.
This is a confirmation of a more than the historic “market failure” that is the climate change crisis — it confirms that capitalism also cannot repair that historic failure.
Everything from the sorry projections of the government for the future results from its carbon price scheme to the criminal “green capitalist” failure of Rio +20 tells us this.
Capitalism will not resolve the climate change crisis. It will not because it cannot. It cannot because of its structured social and ecological irrationality.
The problem, as even Professor Ross Garnaut conceded while proposing a carbon price, are the “powerful vested interests”. Every day we see these powerful vested interests at work. Gina Rinehart's attempt to bring her wealth and power to bear on Fairfax Media is just part of the story.
But there are other developments that offer us hope that there is an alternative way forward.
First, Beyond Zero Emissions is developing a plan for a 10-year transition to a 100% renewable energy future. This is a powerful demonstration that our society has the ability to make a transition like this. It’s what is required to seriously address the climate change crisis. It also shows of the ability of people with various skills and expertise to come together and come up with a collective plan that is practical and detailed.
It shows that such an amazing collective effort can be done not for money but out of concern for the future.
BZE’s efforts smash the self-serving myths that powerful corporate interests promote to convince people that they must remain dependent on fossil fuels.
It also smashes another myth those same vested interests promote: that society can only do things effectively when people are driven by the profit motive.
The second hopeful development is that powerful new mass movements have developed in opposition to coal seam gas (and other unconventional and some conventional gas) mining.
If the people power so manifest in these movement can also be turned to driving the real emergency transition needed, along the lines of that proposed by BZE, then we just may have a chance of winning the dramatic change of course that the climate change crisis demands.
Green Left Weekly is one of the few media sources that regularly reports on and supports these two positive developments. You can help us keep doing this by donating online to the GLW fighting fund and do your bit in the battle to tell the truth.
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