Australia’s climate policy increasingly out of step; Montreal meeting exposes this


Sound of one hand clapping: Environment Minister Ian Campbell’s
delegation will therefore be reduced to pushing their only idea: reduce
carbon in the sky via business as usual, says Martin Callinan, who
works for the US Democrats and is a former adviser to Federal Shadow
Cabinet Minister Kelvin Thomson.

Emission reduction schedules essential: If climate change is to
be taken seriously, scheduled emission reduction timelines are the
surest path to carbon-lite economic growth, he argues. Not that such
growth is unanimously favoured. Some US neocons hold a muted belief
that climate change will hinder other countries, particularly China and
India, more than it will harm the US.

Unconstructive policy: This backbeat is yet to be carried by
Australia’s conservative bongo drums, but such abject cynicism needs to
be nipped in the bud with the counsel that unconstructive policy never
stands for long.

US automakers fail to hold back the tide: Last week, the big
players in the US auto industry announced that they were laying off
thousands of workers, in large part because of the no-worries attitude
to the price of oil and climate change. This belief, nurtured by
extensive lobbying, facilitated heavy investment in recent years in
infrastructure to produce inefficient sports utility vehicles, whose
competitive qualities are diminishing by the month.

“Degraded object”: It is one thing to lobby for certain ideas
but it is quite another to lobby against physical reality. Australia’s
climate policy has become a degraded object in the eyes of most
Australians and most of the world. What matters most now is how soon we
can find the domestic resolution to reduce our greenhouse gas

Reconciling the irreconcilable: “Environment Minister Campbell
stands astride a proverbial melting crevasse. In Montreal, he needs to
reconcile his party’s conservative attitude with the reality the rest
of the world will be sitting down to vote upon.”

The Canberra Times, 29/11/2005, p. 17

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