Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Greenhouse emisssion reductions required - Howard government is negligent

After years of steadfast denial that the greenhouse effect exists, the Howard government has now grudgingly concluded it is real, but only after its most recent scientific report has stated what we have known for years – that it is already upon us.

The Howard government’s refusal to ratify the Kyoto protocol, even after it argued for and got an increase in Australia’s greenhouse emissions on the basis that Australia is a “developing economy”, has been a breathtaking display of both ignorance and incompetence. Glaciers have been melting and cyclones, hurricanes, storms and drought have all been increasing in frequency and severity over that last two decades.

Environment minister Ian Campbell is ill-informed if he thinks further investment in dubious, high risk and expensive coal-related technologies is the answer.

We need to avoid building any new coal-fired power stations, and we need to set a roadmap to exit from burning fossil fuels. This may take thirty years, but it is critical that we do everything we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need to promote and invest in wind and solar power – we can even create jobs and exports in these industries.

Rather then entering into a new and dubious environment pact with the United States, we need to set more aggressive reduction targets than Kyoto specifies and re-engage with global efforts to address greenhouse via the United Nations.

Our Melbourne house has twenty solar panels. We have reduced our domestic electricity consumption by over 70%, and we put clean green power back into the grid during times of peak load. Major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved immediately, but we need the political will and foresight to do so.