Written by Ilisha Kaul, CCL member from the Federal Electorate District of Monash, Vic
Even in 2020, we still have endless climate wars, though circumstances are changing. The bushfires encountered earlier this year have left an indelible impact on the country. The “Black Summer” has altered public opinion on climate change. ANU’s Social Research Centre interviewed over 3,000 Australians and found that 49.7 percent ranked the environment as the first or second most vital issue the country is facing.
Around the world, people are pressuring for actions that need to be taken to address the problem of climate change. Around 80 countries strive to achieve the goal of net zero emissions by the year 2050. All Australian territories and states are in agreement and want to adhere to this target. Many of Australia’s largest companies like Wesfarmers, AGL, Telstra and BHP are in support of this aim.
If we are to have half a chance to not have temperatures increasing more than 1.5 degrees, the goal has to be adhered to very strictly.
To adhere to this 2050 target, we need policies that bolster and encourage big changes. With increasing pressure, it is no surprise that the Labor leader now formally supports the plan.
The 2050 target is also supported by some Liberals, but many are still reluctant. The Nationals are not at all in favour of the net-zero idea. They are apprehensive that it will “send factories and industries offshore”. Nationals Senator Matt Canavan has tweeted “Net zero emissions = net zero jobs,”. Although this is not backed up by any modelling or prediction. “Currently no one can tell me that going down that path won’t cost jobs, won’t put up your electricity prices, and won’t impact negatively on jobs in the economies of rural and regional Australia,” he stated.
The Government might be following or working on the ‘technology roadmap’, but it is clear, as of now we are in need of experts and academics, to give us an outline and estimate the costs behind this huge operation. Again, it is likely that both sides will have modelling and analysis to support their arguments.
Brief summary of Climate wars throughout the years:
Kevin Rudd (1996-2007) opposed the Kyoto Protocol in his time. In late 2009, Labor sought common ground with the opposition to get the emissions trading scheme (CPRS) through. The Liberal leader (Mr. Turnbull) supported this, but he had opposition from his own party. The anti CPRS, Tony Abbott beat Mr. Turnbull in a leadership contest, the final outcome was the Liberals becoming less than receptive to ‘climate action’. Also, Kevin Rudd’s popularity decreased and within weeks he was removed from the position of PM by his own party.
Succeeded in 2011 by Julia Gillard after winning the next election after not introducing a carbon tax,she went on to introduce a carbon pricing system which was referred to by critics as a carbon tax.
“It’s a win for those who will seek their fortunes and make their way by having jobs in our clean energy sector. It’s a win for those who want our environment to be a cleaner environment and to see less carbon pollution,” she had said.
She formed Clean the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Energy Finance Corporation; two government bodies created to bolster clean energy.
When Tony Abbott became leader of the opposition, he was committed to ‘axing the carbon tax’. The climate debate had reached new levels then. After he won the 2013 election, the carbon tax was revoked, but he agreed to the Paris agreement in 2015, which stated lowering carbon emissions by twenty six percent (at least) by the year 2030.
Wake up call:
Warnings of experts based on their studies of climate disruption and its consequences, awoke the world to the catastrophe looming ahead. The year 2019 saw a crescendo of climatic disasters mostly in the form of unprecedented bushfires in the Arctic, South America, and most significantly for us, Australia. This was predicted by economist Ross Garnaut back when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister. Cities were choked with bushfire haze for many weeks while more than 2700 homes were destroyed, and more than a billion wildlife injured or killed. Warnings regarding these types of disasters have been given by scientists for decades.
It is a wake up call to Australia to rethink its approach towards climate change. This type of crisis should prompt the government and encourage credible policies to tackle fossil fuel pollution.
Only large-scale government action can reduce the emissions.
Importance of Bi-partisanship:
CCL Australia is working to encourage agreement between Government and other political parties and create conditions for non-partisan cooperation and consensus on climate.
Political consensus would help to create connections and synergies between these groups, as core elements of a more coherent national strategy and action plan on climate change.
For our futures and climate:
For a livable climate all sides need to focus on the common foe, Greenhouse gas emissions. Investment in decarbonization, not only means betterment for the environment but could also lead to the creation of jobs.
An Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is now the centerpiece of the Australian Government’s current policies to limit Greenhouse gas emissions. The aim is to decrease emissions, increase energy productivity and boost the uptake of renewable energy.
Jobs can be created through rapid private and public investment in clean buildings, renewable energy, manufacturing, land use and clean transport.
Eytan Lenko, Beyond Zero Emissions’ interim chief executive has said “No one thought 2020 would turn out the way it has. We now have a unique opportunity to seize this moment, to retool, reskill, and rebuild our battered economy to set us up for future generations.”
Australia shouldn’t be missing out on these opportunities be it green steel, electric transport (buses and trains) or zero-carbon manufacturing.
A report has stated that “New transmission infrastructure will unlock billions of private investment in renewable energy. More social housing means less homelessness and fewer resources expended on dealing with the problems of homelessness. Electric public transport leads to better air quality, and fewer health problems linked to pollution.”
Several business leaders, people from the welfare sector and unions are striving for a “green recovery” from our Covid-19 recession.
It is time to restructure the path on which we build our economy; with energy taking a central role. Not just Australia, but countries all over the world are now focussing on this opportunity. The Government should make further investments that expedite the transition to net zero emissions, while creating more jobs, and improving the economy.
It’s very clear that both the ‘conservative’ business leaders and ‘environmentalists’ will deeply benefit from this arrangement as it ensures new employment opportunities and improved air quality both vital for our lives and futures.
Ilisha Kaul 10/10/2020