Australia must do much better on emission targets

Image from the ABC

Contributed from Victoria

In the lead up to the United Nations Glasgow COP 26 summit, global warming and the response of the Australian government is becoming s hot topic.

There is division within the government’s ranks and strife with the National Party, which wants no talk about eventually moving to zero emissions. Prime minister Scott Morrison doesn’t want to go to Glasgow and it is unclear what sort of representation Australia will have, if any.

Meanwhile polls show a clear majority of Australians wanting stronger action to cut carbon emissions and reach net zero much sooner.

Recognition of the net zero goal has been an important advance. But there is a downside. It has enabled reluctant governments to pretend they are doing something by talking of eventually getting there. The world doesn’t have time to wait till eventually. A major change is needed within a decade.

Even reaching zero in a short time will only stop the situation form getting worse. To work towards an improvement means drawing carbon form the atmosphere. Only a minus zero target can achieve this.

Without at least getting to zero, the increase in temperature is going to be significantly higher than the 1.5 centigrade we are already stuck with, and the impact will be devastating.

This is going to be a big issue in Glasgow. The plan must be much more ambitious than it is now. Those nations with the capacity must lead and give those who don’t some time and help to overcome barriers. Each nation achieving the goal is less important than the world achieving it.

The Morrison government is not only well behind on both counts and has clumsily lied that this is not the case. Pretending to do something while doing very little has become untenable. This is the biggest reason for its internal problems and vulnerability in domestic politics and the world stage.

Fossil fuel companies and ultimately their key owners and financiers, the big international and domestic banks, are far too powerful in Australian politics. They have close relationships with the Liberal and National parties.

Australia must be a leading reducer of carbon because we have the capacity and are one of the world’s biggest contributors, mainly through being of one the world’s biggest the exporters of fossil fuels. Overcoming dependency on these exports is essential to emission reduction.

Doing this is inseparable from the need to rebuild the economy on a different foundation, and a big part of this is to build new technology and industries on the foundation of creating new jobs.

Creating jobs is the best way to lift the benefits and support for a sustainable economy. And lifting the whole economy on a sustainable foundation is necessary to turning away from fossil fuel dependency and being far more efficient in energy use.

A tilt toward a corporate led movement to zero is a new problem. A major part of the corporate world has made a sudden switch. Don’t you believe it. This is the way real life works.

Led by the business council of Australia,  Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp, and other prominent corporations, this is an attempt to challenge changed public opinion and creating a diversion and  divert attention towards a minimal response to a threat that can no longer be denied.

The movement towards a carbon free future cannot be corporate led. It must be led by society compelling its political leaders to do what they must.

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