'You fail to act'

May 2, 2009

The following open letter is to Tasmanian federal Labor MP Duncan Kerr, from Resistance.

Thank you for meeting with protesters after we held an action outside your office in Hobart on March 27. We want the federal government to scrap the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), because it's not going to do much at all to reduce Australia's carbon emissions.

It wasn't just us demonstrating that day. There were protests at lots of Labor MPs' offices, all around Australia.

You told us about your long history in environmental issues, and how frustrating it was for you when the ALP was in opposition. You said you knew how serious a problem climate change is.

Climate change became a hot election issue and your party became popular for promising to take strong action on climate change. Now your party is in power, you gave us lots of reasons why you still haven't done anything yet — like the United States won't take action, the economic crisis, and the other Labor MPs holding you back.

You even told us that capitalism is "creatively destructive". I agree that capitalism is certainly destructive. I'm not convinced about the "creative" part, given that capitalism is destroying the Earth.

When corporations delay cutting their emissions because it will affect profits, that's pretty destructive for everyone else. You explained that the CPRS has been designed to get businesses to slowly change where they invest money so that, eventually, businesses will become more sustainable.

The CPRS is just a way for polluters to continue business-as-usual without making any serious changes. They can even increase pollution if they buy forests in the Third World. The CPRS accounts for this as an "offset" — but it won't actually reduce emissions here.

The CPRS won't phase out the dirtiest industries, like coal, and replace it with clean, renewable energy. In fact, it's going to reward these industries with billions of dollars as "compensation" for being part of the trading scheme.

On April 30, PM Kevin Rudd said the worst polluters will be exempt from the government's renewable energy target. The richest companies are let off the hook. Households and cleaner industries are expected to foot the bill for the switch to renewables.

You're well aware that CPRS won't secure a safe climate for us because the markets can't respond quickly enough to stop it and governments aren't treating it like the emergency it is.

You told us you are resigned to the fact that we'll see a 3°C average increase in warming. But this will mean the loss of the Great Barrier Reef, millions of climate refugees across the world, more droughts in southern Australia, more floods up north, and more deadly bushfires.

You are the parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island affairs. The Pacific Islands are the first to experience the terrible effects of climate change.

You said that people can only handle one crisis at a time and that the economic crisis would take everyone's minds off the climate crisis.

The truth is we must solve both problems at once by investing in a job-rich transition to sustainable energy and farming. The billions in subsidies your government gives to the big polluters each year could help fund the transition.

You think we have to accept climate change is happening and try to only lessen the impacts. We don't think that's very clever. In fact, we think that's suicidal.

So our group is planning more events. The next protest is on June 13 and we're calling it the climate emergency rally. Because you fail to act on climate change, you'll be seeing more protests from us in the future.

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