The first few weeks of the Donald Trump administration have been extraordinary, and quite frightening — not just because of the incompetence of a president who appears to be little more than a self-obsessed idiot, but also by the actions of the dangerous ideologues at the helm of the world’s biggest economy and military power.
A growing number of local councils and universities are divesting from financial institutions that invest in fossil fuel extraction. This is a great credit to climate change campaigners around the country. It points the way forward towards the even greater shift in investment priorities that we will need to make if we are to stop catastrophic runaway global warming.
Some environment NGOs have been quick to say that Australia’s carbon price has sharply cut carbon emissions in its first year. The claims not only contradict the evidence, but are positively deceptive: an exercise to cast a deeply flawed policy as a serious response to climate change.
About 400 activists from across Australia converged on Sydney over June 21-23 for Australia’s Climate Action Summit 2013. As the science of climate change becomes ever more alarming, and as the refusal of business and political elites to act becomes ever more glaring, the activists met to share ideas and strategies to build a strong movement for a safe climate.
The warnings were clear and now it’s happened: bending over backwards with carbon tax compensation to appease Australia's dirtiest electricity generators, the Gillard government has handed big coal billions in windfall profits, whilst consumers are effectively paying twice for the carbon price.
Socialist Alliance National co-convener Peter Boyle spoke alongside NSW Greens MLC John Kaye at the opening session of Green Left Weekly’s Climate Change Social Change conference in Parramatta on June 30. His speech is below. * * * I want to dedicate this little presentation to our Pakistani comrade Baba Jan — who has been imprisoned and tortured since August last year for standing up for the rights of his people from the Hunza Valley after their villages and farmlands were flooded in 2010.
So now we have a carbon price in Australia. The sky hasn’t fallen in but neither are we getting anywhere near doing what needs to be done to respond to the climate change crisis. Australia currently gets its energy in this mix: • Fossil fuels: 95%, comprising coal: 39%, gas: 22%, petroleum: 35% • Renewables: a miserable 5%. According to the Labor government's own projections, with the carbon price, by 2035 Australia's energy mix will be: • Fossil fuels: 91%, comprising less coal at 21%, more gas at 35%, petroleum: 36% • Renewables: rising slightly to 9%.
Over the past few years it appears that debate and conflict about climate policy has dominated Australian politics. But the appearance is different to the reality. There is no serious debate between the two big parties about climate change. A serious debate would be grounded in the climate science, which says we must move to a zero carbon economy at emergency speed.
The Greens were dead against the former Rudd Labor government’s Carbon Pollution Trading Scheme (CPRS) in 2009 and voted it down in parliament. Today, the Greens are champions of the Gillard Labor government’s carbon price. A recent Greens brochure, “The Carbon Price Explained”, says it only “happened because of the Greens”. The strangest thing is that the two carbon price schemes — Rudd’s and Gillard’s — are mostly the same.