Australia must do much more to reduce carbon emissions

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Contributed by Joe Montero

Australia faces one of the world’s highest rates of animal extinction. The climate crisis also threatens grave human suffering, in the firms of food and water crisis , economic and social breakdown.

We don’t know how far the planet will warm. What we do know is that the rate is more than can be tolerated without a breakdown in the ecosystem and that we only have a small window of opportunity to avoid catastrophe.

Damage is already taking place. The scientists are telling us that climate will already get 1.5 c hotter. It could even reach 4 c, which would be catastrophic.

The whole world knows that Australia has one of the worst records for carbon emission reduction. Pressure is building on the Morrison government to lift its game. The Prime Minister has just been to the President Joe Biden initiated online summit. While nations talked about substantially increasing their commitments, Australia was left further behind and looking like a problem.

President Joe Biden pledges to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030

Video from CNBC Television

The reality that must be faced is that much of the political elite does not want to do what is necessary, and that is to get on with the business of cutting emissions by 75 percent in the next 10 years and arriving at zero net output soon after this.

Instead of responding positively, the Morrison government has just launched a propaganda blitz to put out the lie that it has been and will continue to be a word leader on carbon reduction. This  brazen lie is testimony to the difficult position the government finds itself in, and at the same time, testimony to the power of the carbon fuel industry over the government. the contradiction puts it in a difficult place.

The lie has a few parts to it.

We are being told that Australia’s emissions have been reduced by 36 percent since 2005. Since this figure discounts exported fossil fuels and their processing, it is a gross over exaggeration and misinterpretation. The much smaller real decrease was due to a big reduction in land clearing in Queensland, some measures taken by Labor, and the decrease in the cost and increase in the popularity of solar panels.  There  has barely been a change over the last 15 years.

We are being told that Australia’s is meeting commitments made at Kyoto. The rest of the world recognises  that  the Kyoto commitments are not nearly enough and moving on it. And Australia’s commitments were less than most.

The propaganda blitz insists that Australia is on track to meet Paris commitments to cut emissions by 30 percent by 26 50 28 percent by 1930. This claim is based on the same misrepresentation of the numbers.

Australia, it is said,  is doing much better than many other countries. . It only looks that way because Australia cheats by counting in historical reductions before 1990. Much of this was due to a fall in land clearing .

The Morrison government claims its target it’s on course to meet the Paris target of a 70 percent reduction. To back this, emissions intensity data is misrepresented. It refers to the relationship between carbon output and economic growth. Not the overall quantity of output. Furthermore, predictions assume an ongoing high rate of economic growth.

Paralysis exists because of the power of the carbon industry over the government, and  the reality that just 100 corporations are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions. Going anywhere near achieving a net zero carbon economy means taking this on.  

The trouble is that contributions and support from these corporations is what keeps the political elite in a job. They are not about to bite the hand that feeds them.

In Australia, this  is especially serious.

It means that only concerted community action is going to make all the difference. A movement has grown and  in a good position to grow even bigger. Polls routinely show that most Australians want action on the climate crisis.

Unfortunately, the environment is  routinely and  dishonestly pitted against the economy and jobs. This is a device to sow confusion and divide the population, and it has had some effect.

That the health of the economy and having clean air are opposed to each other is nonsense. Environmental collapse means economic destruction, loss of jobs and livelihood. This is already beginning to happen.

Humanity must learn that we are part of nature and must live within its terms. We depend on it for life.

Responding is not just about protesting the failure to act.

We must collectively come up with practical answers.  A plan for sustainable development is essential. It must  be more than a generalised statement and include practical projects with specific targets to be reached.

This cannot be left to the political elite to do on their own. People are beginning to react. Taking this to a new level means finding the mechanisms that will bring about change with maximum participation in decision making and implementation.

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