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Climate Change Interest Flagging – Not Least In Australia …

  • August 16th, 2010
  • Posted by 7thmin

energy.jpgCOMMENTARY: European observers have every right to be surprised at an Australian election season in which climate change has been relegated to almost unmentionable status by the two main parties.

SHORT HISTORY OF FLAGGING INTEREST

One case in point: comments  this week  by the European Union Ambassador to Australia, David Daly, wondering about the very low profile of the issue in mass media.

It was not so three years ago when the Labor Party won office, its leader Kevin Rudd declaring the need for solutions, like carbon trading, to be a moral issue of the Century.

As a matter of public record Mr Rudd sought to bring in a rather mild carbon pricing scheme, aiming for 5-20 (5% emissions reduction by 2020, versus 20-20 for the EU), through negotiation with the Liberal Party Opposition and the resources industry.

HISTORIC SUCKERING

Some, like the  Green Party, (which had numbers in the Australian Senate to secure legislation for the government, but regarded its proposals as dangerously weak), suggested that those particular negotiating partners would be the very ones to turn around and sucker the government, first chance they could get.

They did; enemies and adversaries after all, do not make good friends.

The Liberal Party which pulled back from the planned agreement (in the process dumping and replacing its leader) has gone to the elections this week (21.8.10) on a platform of no action at all on a carbon price.

The minerals industry for its part quickly forgot about deals on carbon trading, funding a massive campaign against a proposed  tax on extra profits during times of economic boom.

That helped in the undermining of the industry’s former negotiating partner, Kevin Rudd, sufficiently to see his party replace him with the new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

CLIMATE: TOO-HARD BASKET, OR LEFT FOR ANOTHER DAY?

Ms Gillard has fallen in with the last Rudd position on emissions trading, not to implement it for three years — with a new public consultation procedure in the meantime for “education”.

Seems that the plan would have been too much of a hard sell to folks in their 4WDs (SUVs).

Yet the Green Party has reached some dizzy heights in opinion polling on the back of all this: 14% national support five days ahead of the election; projections of a strong bloc from the party holding the  balance of power in the Senate.

EUROPEANS LEFT HOLDING THE ETS?

Returning to the EU Ambassador:

The EU believes its emissions trading scheme (ETS) has been working, scrubbing loads of carbon dioxide from the skies. See EUAustralia Online, “Europe claims climate gains with its emissions trade”, 22.6.10.

It has been frustrated though by the reaction of the international community, with partners such as the United States edging away from real dealing on a global agreement, though still not so truculent  as China, India, or much of the developing world. See EUAustralia Online, “Copenhagen climate moves ‘won’t turn on a dime’”, 30.12.09.

MISSING THE TRAIN?

hedegaard.jpgConnie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, was disappointed at the outcome of the Bonn climate change conference in June (part of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change process), objecting that actual negotiations, carried out in parallel, had got nowhere.

“These negotiations have if anything gone backwards”, she said.

“At this pace the world will simply collectively miss the train.”

COMMON  SENSE UN-REMARKED UPON

In Australia, Ambassador Daly was wondering over global recalcitrance as well, addressing an Australian National University Climate Law and Policy Conference, in Canberra (9.8.10).

The world was attempting action on climate change; the European Union had set itself important objectives and  policy measures to achieve them.

“I see action on climate change as a common-sense insurance policy against what the overwhelming evidence suggests is a path on which we cannot continue”, he said.

“There should always be room for healthy debate and open discussion, but regrettably, the balance in media coverage here does not always accurately reflect the weight of expert opinion.

“Anthropogenic climate change is very likely real and the consequences serious to catastrophic.”

Reference

unfccc_logo.jpgUnited Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, home, www.unfccc.int, (16.8.10).

EC, Brussels, The EU Climate and Energy Package. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/climate_action.htm, (16.8.10).

European Union Delegation, Canberra, home, http://www.delaus.ec.europa.eu/, (16.8.10).

Pictures  EC, UN

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