On October 10, the international day of climate action, climate activists will converge on Hazelwood, Australia’s dirtiest power station. Each year, Hazelwood burns 17 million tonnes of brown coal and consumes 27 million litres of water (the equivalent of using one month’s worth of Melbourne’s water supply every day). It accounts for 15% of Victoria’s emissions and 3% of Australia’s emissions.
On the surface, Labor PM Julia Gillard appears to have done an about-face on climate change in the weeks since Labor scraped back into government. Immediate action on climate change — especially setting a carbon price — is back on the agenda, she says. The Labor minority government has given in to a Greens demand for a new parliamentary committee on climate change. In doing so, Labor appears to be backing away from its pre-election promise to delay new climate legislation until 2013.
The call to put "a price on carbon" has gained wide support in Australia. It has also gained new currency in the context of a minority Labor government formed with support from the Greens and three independents. Support for a price on carbon has come from across the political spectrum — from the Liberal Party's Malcolm Turnbull through to grassroots climate activists. Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler asked five Australian climate activists if they thought a carbon price was good policy and should be supported by climate action movement.
Prominent Australian writer and climate action advocate Clive Hamilton will speak in a feature session at the October 2-3 Sydney Festival of Dangerous Ideas on the topic: “We are all climate change deniers.” He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler about climate denial, carbon pricing, population levels, and that “Oh shit” moment about climate change. * * *
Coal rules. That was the message delivered last week by the new Labor government. Freshly appointed climate change minister Greg Combet began his ministership by telling the September 13 Australian: “The coal industry is a very vibrant industry with a strong future. What you've got to do is look to how we can achieve in the longer term things like carbon capture and storage for coal-fired power stations.”
Now that we finally know who is going to govern our country; now that we know who is backing who and why; now that we’ve breathed a collective sigh of relief; now — right now — it’s time to mobilise! It’s time to mobilise around what I’ve been muttering to anyone who’ll listen over the past few weeks: renewables, renewables, renewables.
On October 10, climate activists will converge on the Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley in eastern Victoria. They will use mirrors to try to create Victoria's “first solar thermal power” station at the Hazelwood gate, to show solar is a viable alternative. Shaun Murray from campaign group Switch off Hazelwood told Green Left Weekly: “Hazelwood is the most carbon-intensive power station in Australia relative to its output, and has been an ongoing target by climate campaigners.”
The Australian logging industry is seeking to cash in on a global surge in markets for forest biomass and wood-fired power. Proposals for new wood-burning power stations are popping up around the globe. The US alone has 102 new wood-fired power stations planned, the October 25, 2009 Independent said.
Not long ago, a lot of socialists around the world had little to say about environmental issues. The environmental movement was focused on individual (change your light bulbs) and capitalist (create a market for emissions) solutions to the ecological crisis. In 2007, immediately after the founding of the Ecosocialist International Network (EIN), I wrote a Canadian Dimension article on the challenges facing ecosocialists. In it, I discussed two trends that seemed to indicate a new wave of anti-capitalist and pro-ecology action: