An interesting article in The Age by Ian Dunlop (a former international oil, gas and coal industry executive), the deputy convener of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil. Of particular interest is Dunlop’s closing statement:

Australians must demand that all political candidates clearly set out their climate change policy. We need to know the detail now, not take it on trust until after the election; we have been let down too badly already and it cannot happen again.

In the event that real leadership does not emerge, we must place these issues outside the political sphere, to be handled independently on a quasi-war footing. It is that serious.

Full article below:

BEFORE casting their votes next month, Australians should reflect long and hard on the real priorities the nation faces. These are not tax cuts, industrial relations, the economy, interest rates or the stockmarket, but the very survival and sustainability of our society and the planet.

With the global population heading from 6.5 billion today towards 9 billion by 2050, we are already exceeding the ability of the planet to absorb the impact of human activity. The immediate sustainability priorities are water, climate change and the peaking of global oil supply. But our leaders, having supposedly crossed the threshold of accepting that sustainability, in particular climate change, is a serious issue, seem to believe it can be solved by minor tweaking of business as usual. That is demonstrably not the case.

In Australia, the drought is worsening, capital city water supplies are deteriorating and the beginning of the bushfire season does not bode well. The latest CSIRO assessment highlights the risk of continuing climatic deterioration.

Arctic sea ice is melting more rapidly than even the highest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts. This has serious implications for the warming of northern waters and global climate in general. Extreme weather events are growing worldwide, from widespread flooding across Africa, to intense storm activity in the US, Europe, India and China.

The oil price heads north of $US90 per barrel, yet peak oil is barely on the agenda in this country, despite the first, grudging, official admissions, from the International Energy Agency and the US National Petroleum Council, that it may soon become a reality.

These trends make it blindingly obvious that we cannot continue conventional economic growth and rampant consumerism without destroying the planet.

The electoral focus has been on the importance of having a government that can manage the economy, but this misses the point. True leaders think in the long term, face up to and honestly articulate the big issues, then actively build a consensus for change, however unpalatable, uncertain and difficult.

Management has its place, but the world we are now entering demands leadership of the highest order. There is no evidence that the Government, or the business community (with some notable exceptions), has the slightest idea what this means.

We now face nothing less than a global emergency. We must rapidly reduce carbon emissions and encourage alternative energy sources, far faster than either government or opposition are prepared to acknowledge, and begin preparations for a global oil shortage.

This is not an extreme view; the extremists are those in government and business who have been in denial for the past decade, and in the process have frittered away our ability to plan a timely response. Our Government, and the Bush Administration, have done more to subvert serious action on climate change, and to endanger energy security, than anyone else on the planet.

They continually regurgitate the mantra that technology is the answer. It is undoubtedly critical, particularly the renewable energy technologies that have been deliberately suppressed, but technology alone is not enough. There must be a major change in our values.

These challenges are daunting but with sound leadership we can successfully design a sustainable future.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Bali in early December is the crunch point. “Aspirational goals” must be banished for the fiction they are and serious binding commitments made to tackle climate change. In preparation, an Australian government should take the following immediate steps:

■Ratify the Kyoto Protocol and propose that the second commitment period be brought forward from 2012 with binding emission reduction targets for all nations. The objective is to limit temperature increase to two degrees, which will require global emissions to fall by at least 60 per cent by 2050.

■Show international leadership by proposing the adoption of equal per capita carbon allocations globally by a date to be agreed, say 2040. This will provide the circuit-breaker for the developing world to accept binding commitments.

■ Accept that Australian emissions under this scenario must be reduced by 50 per cent by 2025 and 90 per cent by 2050.

■ Accelerate the introduction of a national emissions trading system, incorporating these reductions.

■ Impose a national moratorium on all new coal-fired power stations and new coal export projects until their carbon emissions can be safely sequestered.

■ Set a national mandatory target of 30 per cent electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

■ Implement world’s best practice energy efficiency and conservation standards.

■ Develop contingency plans to handle the peaking of global oil supply.

Australians must demand that all political candidates clearly set out their climate change policy. We need to know the detail now, not take it on trust until after the election; we have been let down too badly already and it cannot happen again.

In the event that real leadership does not emerge, we must place these issues outside the political sphere, to be handled independently on a quasi-war footing. It is that serious.

3 Responses to Climate change is a war that we must fight

  1. David Stout says:

    The paradox is that it will take political will and significant political muscle to take climate change out of the political arena. In Britain, in spite of the Stern Report, that political will is far from evident. Indeed, even the fairly modest commitment to the EU’s renewables percentage target by 2020 is now being quietly shelved. As global manufacturing gravitates remorselessly to China, so energy saving efforts by countries like Britain – and Australia – appear puny in the face of her energy demands and coal dependence. The recent report by Lehman Brothers (see http://www.llewellyn.co.nz) explores all the ways in which, globally, climate change might be mitigated, without disadvantage to national economies. Going it alone won’t get the bull off the ice – or won’t keep the ice under the bear. However, setting an example is a necessary condition if the big players are to be persuaded to act.

  2. James Blinks says:

    Ian Dunlop is paid to say ‘we must fight global warming’. he is not impartial, nor scientifically versed to make a judgment

  3. OveHG says:

    Thanks James. He may not be but he is backed up by the majority of the world’s best scientists.

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