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Abbott's green wash « Previous | |Next »
February 3, 2010

It's what you would expect from the Coalition on climate change after they dumped Malcolm Turnbull as their leader. The risk was that the opposition will be seen as having no policy clothes.Their problem was that they had to do something about addressing climate change, even though they are climate change sceptics and deniers.

They came up with a climate change plan to get the Coalition through to the next election, not a serious plan to refit the Australian economy so that it emits less carbon. It's a fig leaf designed to give them some green wash and a shield designed to protect Australia's coal, aluminum and cement industries from change.

Ben Cubby in the SMH says:

By failing to address the sources of rising greenhouse gas emissions, even the federal government's minimum target of 5 per cent cuts by 2020 would be likely to spiral out of reach, potentially exposing Australia to punitive action from other nations that are able to meet their targets. A 15 or 25 per cent cut by 2020 could no longer be contemplated, passing on much steeper costs into the following decade.In essence, farmers would be asked to plough carbon back into the ground faster than the coal industry can dig it up, and Abbott's volunteer ''green army'' would be asked to plant trees faster than the timber industry can cut them down.

There is nothing to make the polluters feel the cost of their polluting. Without any penalty for forcing emissions down, they would continue to increase because those who decided not to reduce their carbon footprint (coal fired power stations) would have no reason to change. They could keep their emissions at ''business as usual'' levels until 2020 without penalty. This would cause more taxpayers' money to be spent on incentives so the 5 per cent target would be met.

This is another indication that political leaders have proved so reluctant to make big polluters subject to the kind of price signals that are essential to force a shift to low carbon technologies. Neither of the major parties in Australia has adopted a cap that is deep enough to drive the industrial transformation.

The Coalition rejects any form of market mechanism to reduce carbon pollution from energy generation and transport fuels.The strength of the Coalitions' plan is on storing carbon in soils and vegetation and soils.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:05 AM | | Comments (6)


A Coalition government would provide a $1000 rebate for either solar panels or solar hot water systems. The former costs $20,000 or more. Nothing about a feed in tariff. These guys aren't serious.

no mention of investment in large large-scale solar plants either.

It's an election year, so the policy doesn't matter as much as the soundbites. 20 million sounds like a lot of trees. People like solar panels. On pollution reduction, all most people will hear is "We're going to spend $x fixing it", which is a nice, clean message. Rudd doesn't seem capable of that kind of simplicity.

There's a lot of confusion over exactly what Rudd's policy is asking us to do. Contrast with the Putin-style Action Man Abbott, who is promising to do it all for us. Probably while he's riding a bike uphill and rescuing somebody drowning off Manly beach.

At the end of the day it comes down to one thing.

Labor needs the Greens to win the next election and the Coalition will be trying to win without them.

Swinging voters dont care about 2050 or 2030. They only care about next week, next month or next year.

In an election year... the Coalition parties will reach for their most effective weapons: fear and doubt. Fear the sceaming greenies, doubt Australia's negative impact on the environment.

As Peter Cosier, from the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, points out in The Age the Coalition has recognised that climate change is a problem. He says:

The cornerstone of its policy is to pay farmers, through a tender system, to store carbon in agricultural soils.Is it possible for Australia to cut emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, by storing carbon in vegetation and soils? Yes it is. Is that good news for the Australian environment? If it is done properly, absolutely.

He adds that the Wentworth Group strongly supports the important role terrestrial carbon - the carbon stored in forests, grazing land, farmland and soils - has in addressing climate change.

Soil carbon means increasing carbon levels in soil through no-till or lower-till cultivation methods, composting or adding biochar to soil and it has huge potential for biosequestration of carbon, locking carbon in soil for decades.

However, Cosier arges that we also need to transform our industrial economy, there is no chance of solving the climate change problem. If we are serious about limiting climate change to less than 2 degrees we must put a cap on carbon pollution from transport and energy generation.