Urgent Action on Climate Change and our Politicians

In my last blog I was critical of the Victorian Labor government and their defence of ‘status quo’ forestry operations. My conclusion was that there were enough holes in the Kyoto forestry rules to ‘drive a truck through’ and that the government, probably with some union support, was using these loopholes to claim forestry operations in Victoria were a ‘carbon sink’ – something that anyone familiar with logging operations could easily see was false. The problem with both major parties is that a substantial number of their elected members do not understand the global warming threat or how urgent action is required. They are, at best, happy to play by the rules with perhaps token actions.

Labor’s predicament can be clearly seen with its support at both a Federal and State level for the Adani mine in Queensland. No politician who understands the warming threat – that further fossil fuel use will make the warming worse – can even consider such a proposal. Understanding the dire nature of the threat – that it is existential and already an emergency – means we have to transition from the use of fossil fuels as rapidly as possible.

At the other extreme we have a most enlightened SA government (also Labor) that, as it has recently been reported,  if it was a separate country would be the world’s leader in the adoption of renewable energy and innovative technology of the future. Victoria is following SA with support for a number of wind and solar projects but still clings to the brown coal generators and outmoded forestry practices which as I have said indicates a level of ignorance of, or unwillingness to cope with, the problem.

Almost nothing has been said of the largest and most immediate benefit of saving carbon dioxide emissions through energy efficiency as it is not something that the pollies can easily sell. The same is also true with ‘demand response’ where energy users are paid not to use energy when there is peak demand. Batteries and energy storage can help facilitate the latter.

Whilst the reactionaries – many Liberals and most of the Nationals – and others still cling to the idea of ‘clean coal’, and even nuclear energy, their window of opportunity has long passed. Both wind and solar are now cheaper than these energy sources with the huge advantage that they can built in a very short period of time and their fuel is free and emits no greenhouse gases. This is exactly what the climate emergency requires. We should be covering the available flat surfaces of all our cities with solar panels in large and small projects, on rooftops, carparks, roads and dams.