Boats, lies and carbon tax

Since the comeback of Prime Minister Rudd the political agenda has been downgraded to propaganda work for the upcoming elections. Both Labor and Coalition limit themselves to talking around hot topics. Wouldn’t it be time to face major challenges?

Whereas many other governments have realized that climate change is a serious thing and some action is urgently needed, both Mr. Rudd and Mr. Abbott comfort themselves with distributing of misinformation and promising lower economic burden by reducing or scraping the carbon tax. The truth is that Australia needs a stringent GHG emission reduction program more urgently than any other country in this world. Data from the World Resource Institute show that in 2010 GHG emissions per capita in Australia were six times higher than on world average! If everyone on this planet were emitting the same amount of GHGs as the average Australian did in 2010, then we would emit 238.56 GtCO2e[1] annually, a figure that is almost fifty times higher than the maximum long-term annual emission as suggested by the Stern review[2]. All except one political party in Australia do not account for that and have no plans to reduce carbon emission as can be seen here.

As if ignorance wouldn’t be enough, the leading parties make things worse due to lack of innovation. That digging holes into the ground doesn’t make anyone more intelligent shouldn’t surprise that much, and actually has empirical prove. Nevertheless, we could expect Australian politicians to be a bit more open for innovation, especially in light of all the ideas they get served on a silver plate: Beyond Zero Emissions have long ago presented the perfect plan on how to transform Australia into a low carbon economy within a reasonable time. But instead of talking to experts, Labor and Coalition prefer to keep subsidies for polluters and instead target at refugees. It’s an old trick that has proven to be helpful in many occasions, especially when a labour market is suffering and employees are scared to lose their jobs.

Isn’t that mediocrity to its worst? How can we solve challenges of the 21th century with models that are as old as the early 1920s? How can we create employment by targeting at refugees or promising tax reductions? I remember that Spanish president Mariano Rajoy won the elections back in 2011 with exactly the same centre-right propaganda. Have a look at Spain today and decide if you want to end up like that. Or do what John Cobb, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Security did in a recent interview[3]: comparing ourselves with what we believe to be worse. It’s always easy to find someone that makes an even worse job and who provides a good excuse not to improve.

Do we really need that? Why not once looking at all those that do better?
To take the same China Mr Cobb was referring to: China has realized that coal is not the future and is transforming its economy into a low carbon economy. It has shown that innovation can create employment.
The Australian Greens have just presented a plan that would provide more employment, fresher food and fairer prices for Australian consumers and farmers.
Innovation doesn’t hurt. Nor does protecting the environment: a valuation of the Great Barrier Reef in 2009 showed that the present value of the GBR was then roughly 4.7% of Australian GDP. Not reason enough for the labor government to protect it. Better favor mining, despite all its implications.

Both Labor and Coalition are stuck in very old concepts. If we believe in a future that is fair, equitable and sustainable, then we need to innovate. Currently, there is only one political party in Australia that can provide this: The Greens dare to innovate, to say the truth and they care for Australia and the world. If Australian voters want a change, then they shouldn’t polish the old silver, but rather reach for gold. Only then can we shine, as Senator Christine Milne recently said, Australians do.


[1] The per capita emission of Australia in 2010 multiplied by the current world population of 7.1 billion (source http://www.census.gov/popclock/)

[2] On the assumption that we would want to keep the world temperature within a limit that can be expected not to have catastrophic consequences.

[3] In an interview with ABC on Sunday, 28 July 2013 MP John Cobb said, when asked what he would do if he were to become the future Agricultural Minister, that he would scrap the carbon tax (on the basis of lack thereof in China) so the Australian agricultural sector could become more competitive. Not only does Mr Cobb not know that China has been testing ETS on carbon emissions in several provinces and is planning to introduce a country-wide carbon tax, but he seems to lack a lot of common sense if he believes that more cattle farming is the solution to a weakening economy. Not to mention the additional GHG emissions.

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About blaubear

Born in 1973 in a small village in rural Switzerland and into a society largely dominated by cows (not only was the human population of one-hundred-and-forty outnumbered by them, but politics driven by unreasonable subsidies for diary products) I was connected with nature from early age on. Observing nature on one hand and the deficiencies of a dysfunctional Swiss agricultural policy with farmers that had lost connection to the land that provided their income on the other, I soon started to question society and the meaning of life. Suffering also under a farcical public education I developed curiosity to discover on my own. That was how I soon learned that little of what I had been taught was true. Skepticism and interaction with people from for me new cultures fostered my interest for the world and eagerness to leave a life shaped by federalistic layman-ship. At the age of twenty-three I hit the road for the first time, an event that later translated into passion. Traveling between cultures has since become part of my life. At the age of thirty-three I finally realized my dream and did a degree in Environmental Engineering from which I graduated in 2009, only to leave Switzerland once more for my "real home" Spain. Unfortunately, the stay was a short one: a couple of months later I was offered a job in Southeast Asia, where I worked and also lived (with some interruptions, e.g. I live in Melbourne since late 2012) ever since. Having worked for a Japanese company earlier in my life, I soon felt captured again by Asian culture and thinking which makes a lovely contrast to my European heritage. My journey through different countries and cultures has taught me that regardless of how different our thinking and values are, no matter what approaches we take, we all can learn from each other. And if we are open enough to see the common instead of pointing out the differences, then we have a chance to live in harmony and peace: Life is all about integration, not exclusion! It's an old wisdom that "knowledge is power", as such I never get tired of being around new people, having interesting talks, and reading lots of good books. I hope that my blog can contribute to the conversation.
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