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federal election: protecting coal « Previous | |Next »
April 1, 2007

I have to admit that I was suprised by the way that John Howard responded to Nicholas Stern's argument that the cost of inaction would reduce GDP. Howard locked himself into a corner on climate change --defending the coal industry whilst leaving himself with little wriggle room. It was all about protecting jobs and international competitiveness. But why are coal miners' jobs more precious than jobs in textiles, the vehicle industry or in manufacturing?

Ron Tandberg

So I guess that the Coalition's election strategy is blatant protectionism, energy saving light bulbs and gimmicky projects about saving forests overseas, whilst allowing Gunns to chop native forests down in Tasmania, and building more coal fired power stations to meet increased demand for electricity.

What is being put into place is a scare campaign based on a wedge that says the ALP's commitment to climate change ---Australia under a Labor government would have a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050---means the destruction of the economy and the end of prosperity.

Howard refuses to consider the possibility that the coal industry and business activity in general may need to move significantly away from the business-as-usual scenario to deal effectively with the climate change issue. So Howard stands for the past. That kind of defensive protection and inaction is not going to play well in the marginal seats in Adelaide, especially when no evidence is produced to back up Howard's economic devastation claim. The ALP, in embracing an emissions trading scheme, is looking good on climate change. They are seen to stand for the future.

Stern said that the failure of economic activity to include the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change as "the greatest market failure the world has ever seen". He went on to argue that markets can play a central role in stabilising the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and similar gases before the worst consequences are realised. These impacts for Australia would include declining rainfall, changing weather patterns that force many species into extinction, and more damaging storms and tide surges, warnings echoed by recent United Nations studies.

What is suprising in this climate change debate is that no one is talking about energy efficiency---including insulation, retrofitting office buildings and improving fuel efficiency in transport. Turning the lights off for an hour doesn't highlight the need for energy efficiency.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:19 PM | | Comments (2)


Gary, it is not true to say "no one is talking about energy efficiency" - Bob Brown and Christine Milne recently questioned in the Senate why so little emphasis is put on this by the Govt and why they continue to refuse to set targets and enforce transparency in the reporting of carbon emissions by companies as well as all govt agencies.

Yes, you are right. I was only thinking of the Liberals and the ALP---Nuclear power versus clean coal. The big symbol politics.