Monday, May 21, 2007

Letter to my local member Petro Georgiou on climate change

I just sent this letter to Petro Georgiou, my local member in the Kooyong electorate.

Dear Petro,

I write to you as a constituent. Thanks for your letter dated 16 May advising of budget matters and the Government's platform for the 2007 election.

I believe that climate change is the number one issue facing Australia and Kooyong at present. I don't think the Government and budget initiatives you mention under "The Environment" are anywhere near enough to address climate change.

For example, nearly all the total $500m Low Emissions Technology Demonstration fund is committed to carbon capture and sequestration research and development. You incorrectly refer to this as "clean coal". There is no such thing, burning coal will always result in carbon emissions. This technology is unproven, and will in any case will not be available in time to address the major cutbacks immediately required in carbon emissions - as identified in the Stern report and recent IPCC reports.

Both these reports indicate that significant expenditure (about 1% of GDP) is required to limit further global temperature rises by one degree. The cost of doing nothing effective now could require over 3-5% of GDP to address later (say in 5 years time).

Your government and the Prime Minister has stated that Australia cannot take action to address climate change as it will affect employment and our standard of living. This is completely the wrong way around. If we don't take immediate action to address climate change, our incomes and standard of living will greatly affected in the near future. We are already seeing the affects of climate change and drought on our agricultural exports and food supply.

I would like to you ensure that Australia:

  • Legislates for a renewable energy target of 30% by 2020 to fast-track the shift to a clean energy economy, which could become one of Australia's major sectors for employment and exports.
  • Sets a legislated target to stabilise our total energy consumption by 2010. We must reduce our energy consumption through increased efficiency measures to reduce our carbon emissions,

  • Achieves reductions of 1.5% on our total electricity use every year to 2020. After stablilising our energy consumption, we must then progressively reduce it through efficiency measures.

  • Abolishes the fringe benefit tax concessions for car use. Many leased cars are currently used excessively to meet tax deduction requirements, resulting in large and avoidable carbon emissions.

  • Provides $1 billion of additional Federal funding annually for our public transport systems. Public transport, and rail in particular, is much more energy efficient than transport by privately owned motor vehicles. Increased use of improved public transport will reduce our carbon emissions.

  • Ends broad-scale land clearing and logging of high conservation value native forests by 2008, to address the greenhouse emissions from these practices.

  • Put a price on carbon pollution, either through a tax or an emissions trading scheme. This will ensure that renewable energy can compete with fossil fuel energy on a level playing field. Fossil fuel energy is heavily subsides by the Government. These subsidies must be removed.
  • Does not build new coal fired power stations and that we responsibly phase out our involvement in the coal industry.

  • Ratifies the Kyoto Protocol immediately. Climate change is a global problem, and it needs a global solution. Australia should become a constructive part of this international process.
  • Shifts overseas aid to renewable energy sectors. Australia must integrate climate change risk factors into all relevant parts of our Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) program planning and evaluation. The majority of Australia's ODA energy sector spending should be on renewable energy, demand management and energy efficiency.

  • Does not use nuclear power and stops uranium mining. Nuclear power is a dangerous and ineffective response to climate change. Australia’s involvement in the global nuclear cycle should be nil – no uranium mining, nuclear waste dumps, and nuclear power stations for Australia.

  • Limits global temperate increases to 2 degrees. Most industrialised nations now accept the imperative of constraining global temperature increase to 2 degrees or less to avoid catastrophic climate change, It is imperative that constraining global temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels must underpin Australian government policy responses to global warming.

At local level, can you please:

  • Commit to Kooyong becoming carbon neutral? Can you please commit to the target of Kooyong becoming carbon neutral by 2010?

  • Provide funding for the Eastern Rail Trail? Increasing bicycle transport is another means of reducing our carbon emissions. A high quality bicycle trail along the Box Hill line through Kooyong would encourage both local and commuter cycling.

Could you please convey my views to the Australian parliament and the Liberal Party room for consideration and action?

I await your response. I will follow this email up with a phone call next week to confirm progress on this. I would also like to meet with you to discuss these matters further.

Regards, Peter

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