In recent debates around solutions to the climate crisis, several ideas hold the largest share of government support and media coverage. These include: green consumerism, carbon offsetting, carbon taxes, carbon trading, geo-engineering and carbon capture and storage. But do these “solutions” take, as their frame of reference, the full extent of the problem? Here are some reasons to be doubtful. Green consumerism is one variation of the argument whereby “your dollar is your vote”.
Cuba is a world leader in ecologically sustainable practices. It is the only country to have begun the large-scale transition from conventional farming, which is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, to a new agricultural paradigm known as low-input sustainable agriculture. Thriving urban organic farms feed and beautify Cuba’s cities, strengthen local communities and employ hundreds of thousands of people thanks to government support.
With climate change, humanity basically doesn’t get any second chances. For a recognisable climate to be preserved, net global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak within the next decade, then decline to zero by around mid-century. It’s a tight call, so we have to get things right first time. If we delay, the laws of physics will not be kind.
Several community environment groups released the statement below on September 22. * * * Environment, health and community groups have gathered in Sydney on September 22 to discuss the future of wind energy in NSW. As electricity prices continue to rise for most NSW households, the groups have welcomed reports from South Australia that wind power is cutting pollution and lowering the wholesale market cost of electricity.
Activists from the Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN) in Adelaide, accompanied by Mark Ogge from Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), went on a road trip to Port Augusta over September 15 to 18 to campaign for solar thermal power. Port Augusta’s two ageing coal-fired power stations, Northern and Playford B, are due to be replaced in the near future. CLEAN and BZE argue that concentrating solar thermal power plants are the logical way forward for Port Augusta and its workforce.
This is a country in serious denial. Australia is a world leader in per capita greenhouse gas pollution and in fossil fuel exports. It produces 30 tonnes CO2-equivalent a person a year and 54 tonnes if Australia’s exported CO2 pollution is included. Pakistan produces 0.9 tonnes and Somalia produces 0.1 tonnes. Yet in these two countries people are dying from climate change as we speak.
Students from the University of Wollongong have campaigned over the past three years for the university to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2015. They have collected more than 3000 signatures from students in support of the plan. The university administration has instead begun plans to build a trigeneration plant on the campus, which would generate electricity through burning natural gas.
A decade ago most experts would have thought it impossible. But several teams of scientists say the Arctic ice cap had shrunk to its smallest recorded extent, volume and area. Environmental physicists from the University of Bremen said on September 9 the Arctic ice cap extent was “small as never before”.
Baba Jan, a federal committee member of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), surrendered himself to an "anti-terrorist court" in Gilgit Baltestan in early September. He had been on the run after police opened fire on a demonstration demanding compensation for those affected by the Atta Abad Lake floods last year, killing two Jan has since been taken from jail and the LPP fears the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is torturing him. Jan’s “crime” was to organise rallies and demonstrations against the police killings.
Will NSW’s Liberal-National state government follow its Victorian colleagues and block the development of wind energy in the state? Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu announced new planning laws on August 29 that ban wind farms from large areas of the state. The laws put so many hurdles in the way of new wind developments that most wind companies are now talking of abandoning further developments in the state.