Renfrey Clarke

Evidence is mounting of a coordinated global oil industry effort to seize upon the international economic crisis as an opportunity to “rebel” against ecological controls and bludgeon concessions out of governments.

Given the Earth’s atmosphere and its oceans are a closely interlinked natural complex, steeply rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are having dramatic impacts on the seas as well.

The following article is based on a speech delivered by Renfrey Clarke to the Climate Emergency: No More Business as Usual conference held in Adelaide on October 10-11. Clarke spoke as a representative of the Socialist Alliance.

With recession now a reality in the United States, and highly likely in Japan and much of Europe, global business is coming out fighting against government policies that might restrict its ability to keep making profits. Measures aimed at limiting carbon emissions have come under fire.

Millions of tonnes of the potent greenhouse gas methane have apparently begun leaking from the seabed beneath wide areas of the Arctic Ocean, the British Independent reported on September 23.

On September 5, the government’s climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, released his recommendations for medium-term cuts to Australian greenhouse gas emissions.

If the firm Altona Resources has its way, South Australia within five years will have a major new source of base-load electricity, set to feed into the power grid for many decades to come. Not only that, but the firm promises to supply the Australian market with as much as 10 million barrels per year of diesel fuel.

Among the crowd of some 2000 protesters in front of South Australia’s Parliament House on August 1, eco-activists in jeans and windcheaters mingled with people in Akubra hats and Driza-Bone jackets. Mentions of Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, federal water minister Penny Wong and South Australian Premier Mike Rann drew sustained jeers.

Internationally, as in Australia, governments forced to promise climate change action have generally promoted market-based carbon abatement schemes, mostly of the “cap and trade” variety. But can we trade our way out of our climate difficulties? Can market mechanisms deal with a problem of such scale and urgency?

Soon after Australian government adviser Professor Ross Garnaut presented his draft climate change review on July 4, world leaders gathered in a Japanese mountain resort for an expanded version of the annual G8 summit meeting.

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