Zoe Kenny

Environmentalists and anti-nuclear campaigners are disappointed but not surprised by the ALP national conference decision on April 28 to drop its “no new uranium mines” policy. This allows state Labor governments to approve new mines, a policy backed by the South Australian and Queensland premiers.
It now appears certain that the ALP’s national conference, to be held in Sydney from April 27-29, will drop the party’s “no new uranium mines” policy, adopted in 1998. This will satisfy the big mining companies’ desire to expand uranium mining. Labor leader Kevin Rudd and his “left-wing” deputy, Julia Gillard, are leading the push to scrap the policy.
Those hoping for a more serious approach to tackling global warming from the federal ALP than the do-as-little-as-politically-possible tack of John Howard’s Coalition government should revise down their expectations. On February 25, Labor leader Kevin Rudd unveiled the centrepiece of his party’s “climate action plan” — $500 million in funding for “clean coal” technologies research.
In his first two articles in the Cuban Communist Party’s newspaper, Granma, since becoming ill last year, President Fidel Castro lashed out at the recently signed ethanol deal between Brazil and the US. In an April 3 article he described it as “the internationalisation of genocide”.
The major parties’ “green” credentials were again put to the test on March 22 when Greens Senator Christine Milne introduced Australia’s first climate change bill. Despite some high profile backing for the bill — which attempted to set legally binding targets for cuts to greenhouse gases — the major parties refused to support it, giving the lie to their concern about climate change.
On March 8, Greenpeace announced that a community campaign had stopped the construction of Mighty River Power’s Marsden B coal-fired power station, which would have been the first coal-fired power station to be built in New Zealand in 30 years. The campaign, launched in 2004, involved the local community, indigenous people and environmental organisations.
“Nuclear fools’ day” protests will mark Palm Sunday — April 1. The protests are in response to the most significant push for expanded uranium mining in Australia since the Hawke Labor government’s 1983 decision to defy public opinion and allow uranium mining to continue at Rio Tinto’s Ranger mine in the Northern Territory, and to be developed at Australia’s two other largest uranium deposits — BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam (Roxby Downs) mine in South Australia, opened in 1988, and Rio Tinto’s Beverley mine (also in SA) in 2001.
The Pacific island-nation of Tuvalu is the first country to have evacuated some of its citizens because of the sea-level rise driven by global warming. The highest point on the eight coral atolls that make up Tuvalu’s 26 square kilometres of territory sits only five metres above sea level. Almost a quarter of the nation’s population have already been evacuated and the remaining 8000 Tuvaluans may also have to leave in future years.
The Pacific island-nation of Tuvalu is the first country to have evacuated some of its citizens because of the sea-level rise driven by global warming. The highest point on the eight coral atolls that make up Tuvalu’s 26 square kilometres of territory sits only five metres above sea level. Almost a quarter of the nation’s population have already been evacuated and the remaining 8000 Tuvaluans may also have to leave in future years.
In early February, rains that flooded up to 70% of Jakarta and displaced some 450,000 people began. Across Indonesia, 85 people died, according to a March 12 Agence France-Presse report. Bloomberg’s wire service reported on March 6 that, according to government estimates, the floods caused a direct economic loss of “at least 5.2 trillion rupiah” (US$574 million), with indirect losses of 3.6 trillion rupiah.

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