It has been a turbulent time during the last few weeks regarding the climate change issue. There have been a number of natural disasters all around Australia all linked to weather pattern changes. Although, some may argue that these would have happened anyway –saying that these have nothing to do with global warming- it is unlikely. There has been an increase of floods all around the world in the last few years as well as extreme temperatures resulting in bush fires or heavy snow falls in countries where they don’t normally have these. And the list goes on. But I won’t go on about this as it is a huge issue in itself, just look at Bruce’s previous blog with the weather map of Australia; it sums it up succinctly.
What is a concern is that the first reaction of the Australian federal government is to cut back on the environment budget in order to rebuild flood-affected areas. Fair enough some of those policies were real duds anyway but weren’t some of these catastrophes caused by the fact that we have been putting too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? So it would make more sense to try to reduce these to minimise the occurrence of more natural disasters. However, this is not the case. According to an article in The Age (http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/greenhouse-emissions-to-double-unless-action-taken-20110211-1aqnb.html) quoting Ross Garnaut the way we are going at the moment Australia’s greenhouse emissions will increase by 24% by 2020 (based on 2000 levels). Hang on; weren’t we supposed to reduce our emissions by an incredible 5% by then? Oh, yes but we still haven’t got any decent policies in place such as a carbon tax after years of debating it. Instead the current and the previous federal governments have spent around $5.5 billion on mediocre and piece meal abatement programs some of which were very poorly-managed indeed.
Overall all these approaches will not make hell of a lot of difference to Australia’s greenhouse emissions and we paid a very high price for the minuscule CO2 that we did manage to curtail, which is estimated to be about one-tenth of that famous 5% target. See: http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-cash-goes-up-in-smoke-20110214-1atnh.html). On a state government level (referring to our home state Victoria) the recently-elected government doesn’t seem to have much to say about Climate Change –so far. They are not too concerned to the extent that some of them don’t even believe in it and suggest the commissioning of more brown coal power stations to keep up with the ever increasing electricity demand.
The only ones that are actually rolling their sleeves up and are really doing something about reducing greenhouse emissions are our local governments with the support of their constituents. There are many passionate people in these organisations that are constantly doing the right thing. In many cases they are ignoring the financial cost of implementing strategies in order to improve their environmental impact. Those higher up should learn from them.
It is paramount that we as a country start doing something about Climate Change. The longer we wait the more it will cost the economy to retool and the longer we wait the worse it will get when it comes to natural disasters.