The federal government's climate adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, told the National Press Club on September 5 that while climate change is "diabolical", "intractable" and "daunting", Australia is a "special case" and cannot be expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the same extent as other "wealthy nations".
While the world is "rapidly running out of time", the primary recommendation in Garnaut's supplementary draft report is for a 10% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. However, he proposes that Australia may reduce the target to 5% if an international climate change agreement is not reached.
However, alarming environmental warning signs, such as the devastating Artic ice melt, demand real and immediate action to halt climate disaster. The approach of both Garnaut the federal government is dangerously inadequate, and is frustrating climate activists across the country.
In September, a national week of climate emergency actions is planned to highlight the urgency of global warming and the need for drastic action.
Katherine Bradstreet reports from Melbourne that a "climate criminals tour" of the CBD will be held on September 19. The tour will begin outside ExxonMobil's Melbourne offices, moving through the city, targeting BHP and other "climate criminal" headquarters.
Rally organiser Ben Courtice told Green Left Weekly, "we will be protesting the fact that these large corporations are profiting from the destruction of the planet, and also that our [state] government is approving new freeways and coal-fired power plants instead of expanding public transport and renewable energy sources".
In Brisbane, Dominic Hale reports that planning for the week of action is underway. Actions will include a banner drop at the Brisbane coal port, university-based protests, a public forum and a "critical mass" cycling action.
The week will culminate in a September 28 rally targeting some of Brisbane's worst "climate criminals" before a festival of information stalls, music and workshops. Participants are encouraged to bring sleeping bags to "camp out against coal" before protesting the Coal '08 conference on September 29.
Actions in Sydney will include a rally outside the Xstrata Coal office on October 2. Organised by People for a Safe Climate (PSC), the protest will demand: renewables now; keep power in public hands; coal: leave it in the ground; expand public transport; no carbon trading loopholes and 100% electricity from renewables within 10 years.
Sydney will also host a climate action summit on October 4-5 and a November 15 Walk Against Warming.
Responding to Garnaut's announcement, PSC spokesperson Kamala Emanuel said on September 5: "Many people doubt whether the government's carbon emissions reduction scheme will work. It certainly won't work if it has the wrong targets.
"The target should be as close to zero emissions as possible, as soon as possible, with commitments to bend every effort to bring it about. This means emissions must peak within two years, and start to decline rapidly after that."
Emanuel concluded: "We demand policies that can give us reason to hope, and confidence that there will be a safe climate for ourselves and our children."