Renfrey Clarke

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.
Professor Ross Garnaut’s draft review of climate change policy options for the Australian government was released on July 4, with climate change minister Penny Wong due to release a green paper canvassing policy options on July 16. Garnaut’s report looks at the “costs” and “benefits” of mitigating drastic climate change through a carbon polluting trading scheme. It suggests tax cuts and “welfare reform” to compensate low-income households, which will be hit hard by energy price rises.
In Scandinavian folklore, a troll is a bogeyman. In the jargon of the Internet, it is someone who posts false and provocative information.
Ground-breaking new research findings posted on the internet in April have confirmed what many scientists and climate activists have already concluded — that the goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions embraced by the European Union and Australia’s Labor government are gravely inadequate.
John Bellamy Foster, author of Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature and an editor of the prestigious US-based socialist journal Monthly Review (), was a featured speaker at Green Left Weekly’s April 11-13 Climate Change — Social Change conference in Sydney. He spoke to GLW’s Renfrey Clarke.
Global warming, General Motors’ vice-chairperson of global product development Robert A. Lutz told reporters in a closed-door meeting in January, is “a total crock of shit”. Within hours the remark was reported on the internet, and spread, as Lutz subsequently lamented, “like ragweed”.
Last May, the ALP announced a target for greenhouse gas emission reductions that, if observed generally across the world’s major emitting countries, would give humanity virtually no chance of avoiding climate catastrophe.
Almost universally, governments are refusing to recognise the scope and urgency of the changes demanded by global warming. The menace, however, is real, and the time available for concerted action to combat it is frighteningly brief.
Australia’s new Labor government is in denial on the seriousness of climate change. That much is shown by its inadequate target of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60% by 2050. But more on that later.
Amid audible gasps of relief, on December 15 the US delegation to the United Nations climate change conference in Bali signalled that Washington would be part of the “Bali Roadmap” for combatting global warming. With the US on board, a two-year process of discussion would begin — hopefully to culminate in the adoption of a new pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, due to expire in 2012.
Delegates from more than 180 countries began meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali on December 3 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The gathering is meant to begin the process of negotiating an agreement on climate change for the period after 2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.
The scientists are horrified. But not being media-savvy publicists, they generally leave their shocking findings in scientific journals. The politicians quote cautious statements issued by scientific committees early in the decade, and worry about scaring off corporate funding. The business executives look for the chance of new profits, and hire public relations experts to advise them on cultivating a green image.

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