April 5, 2014
Though the effects of climate change are beginning to take hold the economic and political forces arrayed against dealing with climate change are very more powerful. Ours is a civilization built on the continuing use of energy that fossil fuels provide; on cheap, accessible carbon-based fuels, notably oil, coal, and natural gas, that cause greenhouse gas emissions.
Though the energy that comes from fossil fuels will decline they will still dominate the global energy marketplace for decades to come. So there can be only one plausible outcome: vastly increased carbon emissions leading to rising temperatures. Climate change is not the product of unfortunate meteorological phenomena; it is the result of burning massive quantities of carbon-based fuels and allowing the resulting gaseous wastes into the atmosphere.
The is only one way to avert the worst effects of climate change: make the consumption of carbon unattractive. carbon must be made expensive -- so costly, in fact, that renewables become the common fuel of choice. Australia, which took hesitant steps towards the pricing of carbon under a Labor Government , is going backwards. Under the Abbott government the energy policy is one of dig, baby dig, frack, baby, frack; a policy premised on denialism, an addiction to fossil fuels, and to self-destructive behaviour.
Self-destructive because severe climate change is coming our way. Self-destructive because the behaviour is pathological. Why else would a government defund public transportation in favour of more roads so that we continue to remain highly reliant on oil-powered vehicles for transport?
The Coalition have no interest in reconstructing our transportation system along climate-friendly lines. Nor in transitioning to a low carbon economy. This is not a progressive conservatism. It's a reactive one that looks back wards to unsustainable resource exploitation and which rejects out of hand market solutions such as cap and trade and carbon pricing. Behind this conservatism are the oil, gas and mining companies that have strained every nerve to head off the threat of effective action to halt the growth of carbon emissions, buying legislators, government ministers, scientists and thinktanks in the process.
A mixed, diverse green energy future, energy efficiency and to growing a green economy is anathema and dismissed as green crap. They justify inaction on the grounds that they''re quite certain the consequences of global warming (the median projection of warming is 4°C with business-as-usual) will be relatively benign, even though they have no way of knowing that this would be the case.