Build unity for climate action and carry Labor policy further

Contributed from Victoria

The Albanese Labor government has won public support for its climate policy. It deserves to have done so. The 43 percent carbon reduction target by 2030 is not yet enough to ensure Australia makes its contribution towards preventing disastrous climate change. But the Albanese government has contributed to lifting the debate to a higher level, which is a significant change from the Scott Morrison era of cover ups and lies, to cover up going backwards.

Labor’s position is far more in accord with the public opinion clearly revealed in May’s election.

Why then, has the go ahead been given for new oil and gas exploration and questionable offshore carbon capture projects to Woodside Energy and Inpex? Both were announced this week at a mining resources conference in Darwin.  This goes against the government’s own policy.

The new exploration involves more than 46,000 square kilometres of Commonwealth waters to exploration across 10 sites, and further permits may be pending. It’s not small stuff and will add significantly to total carbon emissions.

Photo from ConocoPhillips

The justifications made for this is a need to secure future energy supplies in a world where this is becoming less certain, and that the economy and the price of oil and gas need an increase in supply to pull down prices.

Both are wrong and short-sighted. The best way to ensure future energy supply is to invest in and support the growth of renewables. High prices for oil and gas are driven by being pegged to global prices and exporting most of our oil and gas. Decoupling from global prices and cutting back on exporting them would bring down the price overnight.

It’s highly likely that what is preventing this is that the government wants to keep the industry onside and not a set a precedent that will bring it grief from the mining industry as a whole. Remember that these companies are major financial contributors to the Australian political scene and funders of election campaigns. They have clout.

The other problem is that Australia remains far from having a comprehensive policy to drive towards a clean energy future. Responses are still ad hock and often unconnected. This will not change until there is a comprehensive national plan that not only sets an adequate carbon reduction target.

It also sets the course for decoupling the economy from dependence on fossil fuels through new technologies, methods, and creating new environments. New ways of organising the economy should be considered. The population must support and be involved in bringing about the change.

Photo from Stefano Boeri Architetti: Concept China’s Liuzhou Forest City is now being built for 30,000 residents t live and work in an environment integrated to nature and almost eliminating carbon emissions. This is an example of what is possible.

This is a good point to draw attention to one of Extinction Rebellion’s major calls. This is the building of community assemblies that give people a voice and provide an opportunity to hold political leaders to account. Going down this road would be a major advance for Australia.

The strategy should be to build the broadest possible front to isolate interests wanting to maintain reliance on fossil fuel and render them completely ineffective. Focus on what unites and propels society forward. Not on what divides.

All this might be a big ask. It is necessary though. The alternative is to keep chugging along to a far more difficult future. Taking these changes on doesn’t mean failing to recognise that there must be a transition period. Care must be taken to ensure that the livelihoods of people are protected, and new real jobs created. Support for change will evaporate without this. The big but in it is, transition must be measured, and within a timeline and scale still allows us to move forward at a quick enough pace.

Expecting the Albanese government to suddenly solve the whole problem and not taking as balanced approach, is to avoid the fact that the responsibility is everyone’s. Press for more by all means. Just appreciate that the real difference will not be made in the parliament. It will be made by all of us making change in every corner of our society.

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