Over the past 10 years the Federal Government under Prime Minister John Howard and respective State Labour premiers have largely ignored warnings on global climatic warming. Although numerous comprehensive reports warned of the impending consequences (more particularly to Australia, the driest continent on earth) few initatives have been undertaken as the authors conclusions have been largely dismissed as scaremongering.
It has been disappointing and frustrating for our eminent Scientists working at the Government funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to realise their reports were ignored by the government. In fact it was reported pressure was applied in the form of the possible loss of goverment research funding should they pursue unpopular conclusions on the threat of global warming. click here to visit.
The Government sided with our ally the USA, with both countries refusing to sign the Kyoto protocol, arguing any mandated reductions would harm their respective economies. Howard appears to have recently softened his hard nosed approach, when announcing assistance for several solar and carbon capturing initiatives. The Victorian Premier recently also confirmed financial assistance for a wind farming project.
However these projects will not have any major impact in the near future and we are a long way away from an integrated sustainable clean energy solution. In the bigger picture I dont think much has changed as political scepticism remains.
I think a carbon trading system is vital to ensure we have an immediate large scale industry response to reduce emissions. The imposition of a tax on carbon emissions creates an immeadite cost to industry and trading emissions allows polluters to purchase credits from others who have surplus requirements. Because of the increased cost to industry of emissions you stimulate conservation and investment in technologies to reduce emissions. Alternative cleaner energy sources previously too costly become viable. This will also have a substantial effect on farming, towards sustainability. Emission trading was recommended in the recent Stern Report commissioned by the UK government.
Howard was quick to warn we should not place too much faith in the findings of the Stern Report, rejecting the idea of an emissions trading system on the basis it will harm our industries unless all countries sign up concurrently.
In the Financial Review of the 2nd November 2006 Professor Warwick McKibbin was reported as saying “You need to start at the national level and move out from there”. And he disputed Mr Howard’s central argument that establishing a national emissions trading scheme in the absence of a global agreement including all major emitters would force investment jobs off shore. Professor McKibbin said his own national emissions trading model would make Australia a very attractive investment destination.
Click here for his website.
We are light years away from the UK economy which at least has made a start with large scale targeted emission reductions. Australia remains a laggard and pro rata to population one of the heaviest polluters in the world, apart from the USA. Once again it seems likely we will do nothing, under the leadership of our conservative government.