And done with style!
Tried submitting this as a post. The formatting got scrambled.
I seem to have been banging on about climate change for donkey’s years. Rember all those Science Shows, Philip Adams from the seventies, the Garnaut report. Here’s a little something from 2008. It’s 30 pages worth.
September 10th 2008
Senator the Honourable Penny Wong
Department of Climate Change
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Green Paper – Submission
Thank you for the opportunity of making a submission on the most horrendous problem faced by an Australian government since the end of the Second World War.
Firstly I congratulate you and your colleagues on having the vision to commission Professor Garnaut’s Climate Change Review. He and his staff have undertaken a Herculean task to produce an important and historic document.
I also commend those who made submissions and responses out of unselfish concerns for the long term wellbeing of this country, its economy and the world.. Their submissions are all heartfelt, most are well informed and soundly reasoned. Some illustrate that more needs to be done to inform Australians of the Malthusian realities and diabolical problems we face. Some evince the need for strong regulatory measures to enforce the scheme.
You have my sympathy and best wishes in your task. History is a harsh judge and seldom impartial. If you succeed you will have been instrumental in bringing about a new, positive epoch in human history. If you fail a ghastly new epoch will inevitably follow.
I offer this submission in the hope that it might make a difference.
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
Green Paper – 2008
Philip Gorman © 2008
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 3
A Malthusian Nightmare 3
The Green Paper: a category error is a Malthusian trap 3
A history lesson: Nemesis inevitably follows Hubris 4
2. The Government’s Actions Thus Far 4
The Garnaut Review: a giant step for a bound Hercules 4
The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme: Green Paper Faltering Steps 5
Green Paper or Greenwash?: a pragmatic subtext 5
Too little, too late? 6
3. Crisis Now – or Apocalypse later? 7
All too human can mean all too late 7
4. Policy Paralysis: How Business Interests Trump the Public Good 8
Model 1: The Tobacco Wars – smoking and health 8
How could it happen? – Money, Power & Influence 8
Campaigners and Supporters: the “troops” 9
Defeats and Victories 9
Model 2: Global War: Industry v. the Environment 10
The Forest Industry: a salutary example 11
The corruption of due process 12
5. A Greek Tragedy Unfolding: (mixed metaphors) 13
6. The Demands of Good Governance: Unravelling the Gordian Knots 14
7. Ensuring Effective Action on the CPRS 15
Evaluate threats and constraints & seize opportunities 15
Shortage of time, money and other resources 16
Opportunities for Effective Action 16
8. Cap & Trade Needs Regulating 17
Why effective regulation is imperative 17
9. An Independent Climate Change Commission 19
10. A Review of Corporate Law 20
An Observation 20
11. Opportunities for Further Effective Action: Cost Effective, Popular and Timely 21
Solar hot water 21
Domestic & small scale electricity generation 22
12. Some Transport Solutions 23
Public transport: not quite a panacea 23
BEV’s, LEV’s & Quadricycles: simple, electric, & cheap private transport 24
Electric Motor Bikes, Scooters and More Cycles 25
13. A Broad Based Approach Includes Forestry Agriculture and Fisheries 26
14. Recommendations 27
We live in interesting times. The only answer to life is YES! 29
A Malthusian Nightmare
A Malthusian nightmare of our own making confronts us, and it’s getting very late.
The potential problems of greenhouse gasses were were first recognised in France a century ago. The 1970’s provided a number of wake up calls on the environment, the fragility of global food supplies, and the insecurity of energy resources. The “Oil Shock” was just the most noticeable because of its immediate impact on developed economies.
The Green Paper: a category error is a Malthusian trap
The conceptual framework of the Green Paper is too narrow and makes a dangerous category error. The paper deals only in market values; other, less quantifiable, values are virtually ignored. The environment is commodified. This makes it harder to understand the enormity of the problems and can only result in unintended outcomes.
The surface of the planet isn’t just the stage for our petty dramas and ridiculous struggles for goods and status. It is not just a collection of resources, or a backdrop against which to act out primitive 18th Century economic theories. Our ever accelerating cycles of population growth, production, consumption and waste have consequences, for ourselves and for the other life forms we exploit, destroy or ignore. Like it or not we are part of a greater whole; a rather insignificant and dispensable part of an infinitely complex system that has been evolving for four and a half billion years. The planet needs us no more than a dog needs fleas. Like the flea, we are totally dependent on the planet.
Complex systems analysis shows us that as destabilised atmospheric or biospheric systems reach the point of irreversible phase change everything will change, in an accelerating series of cascading feedback events. The resultant system states will be significantly, perhaps catastrophically, different. This has happened throughout Earth’s history due to vulcanism or when disturbed by extrinsic interlopers such as meteors and comets. The resultant mass extinctions are recorded in the lithosphere.
The Earth will carry on with or without us. We are not that important.
A history lesson: Nemesis inevitably follows Hubris
Two things we learn from history:
those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes, and
no one has ever learned from history
History and archaeology show us that all civilisations which forget they are part of nature, and start believing they are its masters, fall. They clearly demonstrate that no society, empire or civilisation has ever learned enough from history to ensure its own survival..
Such societies forget what really supports them. Despite their wealth, sophistication and technical ingenuity they eventually become trapped in a Malthusian cycle of population growth and environmental degradation, chased by technological innovation, until they destroy or utterly deplete their natural resources. Typically the water runs out, their soils become saline and blow away, and they collapse. The ultimate failure is always foreseeable but unforeseen, unexpected, sudden and complete. The cost in human suffering is unimaginable. Their fate is privation, civil turmoil, war, political disintegration, starvation, disease, dispersal and death. Its a story as old as civilisation.
Six thousand years ago the world’s richest most cosmopolitan and creative trading empire arose in the most fertile place on Earth. The region was known as the fertile crescent because of its super-abundant crops, orchards, forests and grasslands, teeming with animals and birds. Its gardens are legendary. Today it is called Iraq.
The risks we run in forgetting our place in nature are no longer confined to any one nation or continent, they threaten our species and many others besides. This is the scale of the problem.
Dickering over political, trading and market issues to extract the last ounce of gain is stupid and utterly irrelevant. On a national scale only the Government of the day can deal with it. On a global scale only full global co-operation has a chance of averting global catastrophe. This is no exaggeration.
2. The Government’s Actions Thus Far
The Garnaut Review: a giant step for a bound Hercules
The first indications were favourable. Commissioning the Garnaut Review was a a giant step towards developing effective national and international strategies for Greenhouse Gas mitigation. It recognised the need to adapt to inevitable change and to act decisively to mitigate worse change.
Professor Garnaut is careful to point out that adopting the recommendations he has been able to make are insufficient to the task. The proposed half measures will not save the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo, Kakadu, many river systems, or vast areas of Australian farmland. Garnaut actually favours a return to a CO2 concentration of 400 part per million as being the only way to insure against future catastrophe. The recommended 10% cut by 2020 was made reluctantly, and under some duress. It is manifestly inadequate.
Garnaut also points out that the chances of success are very slim, but offers hope. He remains hopeful because the citizens of many countries are beginning to demand that their governments take effective action.
Despite his Herculean labours, transparent honesty, and low key approach Professor Garnaut is accused of scaremongering. He is also accused of being too conservative. He must be getting something right. He simply sets out the realities of our plight in an understandable, measured and conservative fashion. Bound as he is by political constraints he gives way on targets only as much as he has to, but it’s way too much, and he knows it. So do the public.
The Commonwealth Government is accountable to all Australians. Any failure to assume its full responsibilities at this time of genuine crisis it will be harshly judged by history.
The Government needs to reappraise its undignified posture on this.
Kow-towing to wannabe be oligarchs, merchant princes, robber barons captains of industry or their insider mandarins is uncomfortable, and not a good look for any minister or her government.
The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme: Green Paper Faltering Steps
The Carbon Reduction Scheme Green Paper is another positive, if tentative, step. It’s positive because the measures it proposes are sound as far as they go. It’s tentative because it doesn’t go far enough. There is insufficient commitment to broad, strong, effective action.
Green Paper or Greenwash?: a pragmatic subtext
A brief summation of the Green Paper might be:
national action is the necessary precursor to negotiating binding international and global agreements;
CPRS should be relatively simple and effective;
we have to start here and now, but carefully, slowly;
it’s the best we can manage without stepping on too many big toes.
Too much political expediency cripples effective action. The Green Paper looks like good policy in the making, with some serious flaws and omissions. The timid regulatory proposals leave much potential for rorting the system, whilst allowing massive cost shifting to the public purse. These flaws could be fatal even to the Government’s modest goals.
It appears that powerful and co-ordinated, if disguised, opposition to Garnaut’s work has resulted in a less than optimal suite of policy formulations and reduction targets. If these can’t be strengthened Australia will pay too heavy a price.
Too little, too late?
It is already too late to avert damaging climate change. It is already happening. Opportunities for timely action have been lost by successive governments unduly influenced by powerful domestic and foreign interests. Australia is way behind most OECD countries in developing strategies and policies to avert the disastrous and catastrophic consequences of inaction.
Does the Government have the fortitude to act with sufficient nous and strength?.
3. Crisis Now – or Apocalypse later?
If we fail to see this crisis for what it is there will be no turning back as atmospheric and biospheric points of phase change are crossed. This is not a drill.
All too human can mean all too late
Humans are good at handling sudden emergencies and bad at dealing with slowly unfolding catastrophe. At the “gut level” we just don’t get it when some boffin tells us global warming is liable to destroy global civilisation. We didn’t get it forty years ago, when some boffin told us smoking or asbestos was bad for us. The operational time scale of our biological emergency response systems deals in seconds, not decades. We are programmed to respond to the tiger’s leap, not a gradual change in the weather.
This can becomes a major disability for human institutions focused daily, weekly, quarterly, annual or three year cycles. They can simply fail to recognise a need for expanded time frames. Institutions also have a problem refocusing on bigger issues than immediate self interest. The time to act is now but our own biology, plus short termism and short sighted greed create can militate against timely and sufficient action.
Two models follow.
4. Policy Paralysis: How Business Interests Trump the Public Good
Model 1: The Tobacco Wars – smoking and health
Smoking became an issue for developed countries in the early 1960’s. The ensuing battles provided a curtain raiser and ready made strategies for the continuing conflicts over the environment which began a decade later.
Scientific evidence on the dreadful health effects of smoking had accumulated since the 1940’s, and public health officials had warned of the dangers. The tobacco industry saw its core business under threat and acted. Instead of redirecting its vast resources to the production of less harmful products; it used them to attack, subdue, subvert, corrupt or destroy any institution or individual that posed a threat to its profits.
The battles over smoking introduced new orders of sophistication to the resources and strategies available to corporations and politicians wishing to override the public good in pursuit of private profit. The pernicious effects of these strategies, and the outrageous interference in democratic processes, have bedevilled the world ever since.
The interests of the tobacco industry consistently trumped the public good. Over the decades the industry honed strategies in pursuit of its vested interests, while millions sickened and died. Governments consistently refused to take effective action until the sheer weight of scientific and medical evidence led to public outrage at their failure to act. The deaths, and enormous burdens on the world’s health systems, continue.
How could it happen? – Money, Power & Influence
With the enormous funds at their disposal the tobacco companies could afford to hire the best professional lobbyists, PR and legal firms in any country. Politicians were compromised by exceedingly generous campaign contributions. Through a variety of financial and other instruments, including bribery and more subtle forms of corruption, pressure and influence peddling they were able to set up and fund the political, academic, campaign, research, or community organisations they needed. They could also afford to buy the services of key people in any business, private or public sector.
The tobacco companies could not be seen to be directly involved in activities ranging from influence peddling to virulent campaigns targeting public officials, anti smoking advocates, academics and scientists. While they directly employed corporate lawyers, professional lobbyists, consultants and public relations firms the PR firms were largely responsible for the recruitment of armies of “supporters” from across the demographic spectrum. Existing organisations were co-opted and new ones established. Think tanks, pro-business organisations, political pressure groups, and ersatz “grass roots” organisations were funded via plausibly deniable arrangements. Many supporters had no idea who was really behind their organisation.
Campaigners and Supporters: the “troops”
Apart from the professional organisations in their direct employ the most effective tobacco industry supporters included openly sponsored or indirectly funded:
media groups, actors, celebrities and media “personalities”;
national sporting organisations, clubs and teams;
local, state and national politicians, political parties and groups;
scientists and doctors, academics, think tanks, publishers, journalists and authors;
professional and business groups;
farmers’ organisations, and unions;
local social and sporting organizations, and surprisingly,
religious groups and the military.
Every opportunity was taken to promote smoking as a healthy lifestyle choice and counter any moves to curtail their activities. Supposedly “grass roots” campaigns, talk back radio, health professionals, scientists and a compliant media were used to sow public doubt and confusion about the health effects of smoking. In addition to advertising tobacco company wares the media presented the public with a constant stream of favourable coverage of:
sponsored sporting events and outdoor adventure activities;
carefully placed and presented “news”, opinion, advertorials and current affairs;
endless product placement opportunities, and
outright propaganda, including “scientific reports”, editorials and opinion pieces.
The media were used to make personal and general attacks on ideas, opinions, evidence, policies and people seen as a threat by tobacco interests. Regulators and public servants, independent minded politicians, doctors , scientists, anti-smoking groups, academics and concerned scientists were typical targets.
Defeats and Victories
For decades the tobacco companies in were able to successfully:
paint independent, peer-reviewed scientific research and modelling as just another matter of opinion or judgement;
lend credibility to the findings of their own researches and those they funded, in the absence of credible peer review or publication in reputable scientific journals;
use propaganda and lies to misinform, confuse and divide public opinion;
browbeat, corrupt, blackmail or displace public officials; and
promote smoking as a healthy lifestyle choice;
lobby public officials including politicians judges and legal officers;
counter any regulatory moves;
use key opinion makers including a core of co-operative politicians, and
infiltrate politics and sabotage democratic processes to the point where effective policy making was effectively stalled for decades.
And they are still at it!
Model 2: Global War: Industry v. the Environment
The environment became a “hot button issue” in the early 1970’s.
It quickly become a war of conflicting imperatives:
promote economic growth to avoid market collapse
sustain the environment to avoid global collapse
The third imperative is the global reconciliation of the other two. This is what makes mitigating climate change such a diabolical and urgent problem. Whether we recognise it or not it is the nub of a national and global crisis.
Over thirty years ago the citizens of many developed countries became aware of the devastating environmental and health effects of many common industrial processes. Books such as Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” sent shock waves around the world despite strenuous efforts to stifle and discredit them.
New research demonstrated just how far reaching the ecological damage had become. It also revealed the negative effects on the economy, and on communities of people, as well as communities of plants and animals. For a brief time it was generally agreed that the damage could not be allowed to continue unchecked.
During the same period the first “oil shock” had severe economic, security and political repercussions, and the Club of Rome’s “The Limits to Growth” made dire and prescient, if poorly timed, predictions of imminent food shortages and a general Malthusian collapse resulting from resource scarcity and global stagflation. There were some beneficial outcomes.
Governments and industry responded to widespread public concern in different ways. New environmental policies, plus new agencies, educational faculties, research and legislative measures promoted environmental gains and more efficient resource management. Research and development was boosted in many fields, particularly in agriculture, biochemistry and resource development. New agricultural methods and biotechnologies were taken up by multinational agencies and companies. The “Green Revolution” sustained the growth of human populations in developing countries and made food supplies more varied, abundant and affordable in the developed world.
In developed countries the new regulatory frameworks provided a measure of environmental protection, curbed the worst excesses of dangerous and polluting industries, and effected profits.
As with the tobacco industry the perception of threats to “business as usual” blinded almost all industrialists to the business opportunities offered by reorientation towards genuinely pro-environmental activities.
Business was alarmed but it had learned much from the “Tobacco Wars”and quickly developed new skills and strategies to counter what it saw as unwarranted government interference and profit threatening restraints.
Since the mid seventies business has successfully employed much the same methods as the tobacco industry. This time the scale is orders of magnitude greater, with new refinements and a universal reach. Unprecedented inter-corporate co-operation has enabled far more effective campaigns to be waged by big and small business. Billions have been spent on orchestrated attacks on regulators, governments, green parties, conservationists, scientists, academics, and all or any others perceived as a threat. Many of the 1970’s environmental regulations have been rolled back and attempts at new ones watered down or blocked. Effective propaganda and misinformation campaigns, usually supported by compliant media, have ensured sufficient public confusion and doubt over the wisdom or necessity of environmental policies to make governments unwilling or unable to act effectively.
In Australia powerful industrialists have dictated most energy policy , and much else, for decades. They generally look upon Green movements with much the same mixture of alarm and disdain as they have for consumer organisations or unions. But they also know they must allow governments to be seen to be doing something. Whilst paying lip service to greenhouse gas mitigation they actively block all but tokenistic efforts.
Their use of the media, high profile “grass roots” (astroturf) organisations and right wing think tanks has been particularly effective in swaying public opinion.1
The Forest Industry: a salutary example
Under CPRS as it stands the forestry industry gets carte-blanch to continue wrecking native forests. Investors in plantations will be able to store up great wealth through not harvesting their precious crop; putting more pressure on old growth and regrowth forests.
The Government appears to have fallen for the industry’s spurious argument that what they do is sequester carbon in timber products. In fact the carbon sequestered is a very small fraction of the the CO2 and other damaging pollutants released. Australian forest industries sell tens of millions of tonnes of wood. They waste hundreds of millions of tonnes in the process.
What they actually do is destroy habitat, biodiversity and most of the above and below ground biomass in any given logging coup. Despite industry claims under story, small and medium trees, limbs, branches, twigs, leaves and roots are not part of the market driven process. Deliberate burning of the wreckage is hot enough to release a toxic mix of greenhouse gasses, particles and chemicals, including dioxins and other carcinogens.
The relatively small mass of economically processable timber is carted over huge distances to become short-lived paper, cardboard, and packaging products. Only a “commercial in confidence” fraction of it becomes solid timber products or veneers with years of potential sequestration value. Thus about 90% of forest industry activity results in enormous release of greenhouse gasses in the short to medium term. The take up of carbon dioxide by regrowth is too little and takes too long to be effective in mitigating the industry’s other practices or assist the Governments stated mitigation objectives.
Current forestry practices also damages the environment through soil compaction, introduction of microbial and fungal disease, disrupted hydrology, the release of toxic chemicals, and widespread habitat and wildlife destruction. These in turn adversely effect local communities, fishing and agriculture.
Forestry Industry proposals to use wood waste as fuel for electricity generation is hardly a progressive step towards greenhouse mitigation.
The corruption of due process
The Tasmanian pulp mill approval process offers examples of the sort tactics used by a large company to:
apply undue influence and pressure on public officials, including politicians;
evade,subvert or override planning schemes, protocols and due process;
promulgate propaganda in conjunction with government and media organisations;
use “grass roots” pro-industry groups, and workers to sway public opinion;
undermine or displace public officials;
employ its wealth to abuse legal processes and procedures;
promulgate untruthful and damaging allegations about its opponents;
intimidate and harass its opponents,and
hit environmentalists with vexatious and costly SLAPP suits that drag people and organisations through the courts for years and destroy lives in the process.
5. A Greek Tragedy Unfolding: (mixed metaphors)
“The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves.” Shakespeare , Julius C easer
To say we are caught up in a war of conflicting imperatives is no exaggeration. A terrible dichotomy is presented by the apparently incompatible imperatives to sustain economic growth and avoid market collapse and, at the same time, to limit damage to the environment to avoid global collapse. The third imperative of resolving the dilemma by somehow reconciling the other two has so far eluded us. It is already too late to prevent significant climate change and its unfortunate consequences. This is what makes mitigating climate change such a diabolical and urgent problem. Whether we recognise it or not it is the nub of a national and global crisis.
This is a Gordian knot of global proportions that has proved impossible to unravel. So we act out a familiar and oft repeated Greek tragedy. The ancient script decrees that the main characters lack the vision, wisdom, or good will to avert a doom of their own making.
Sometimes it appears the mismatched antagonists in the current drama must inhabit entirely different planets, so disparate are their perceptions, so irreconcilable their differences. The planet they share is already suffering the effects of human activity. Profound and unstoppable changes in the atmosphere and biosphere are already underway. This much is clear to anyone who looks squarely at the situation.
The fatal flaw that destroys protagonists in the great tragedies is Hubris, the greatest of human sins against the gods and nature. Hubris undermines their vision, their reason, their empathy, their understanding; so they persist in blind folly. It matters not if they are great among men, heroic, mighty, rich, or gifted by the gods. It counts for nothing if they are well intentioned, or truly believe they are driven by Necessity. They pursue their dreams of conquest, wealth, power and glory, spinning the tangled threads with which implacable Fate weaves their doom.
The chorus sees, the audience sees. They do not. Some can’t see, some won’t see, some look away. All stop their ears to the insistent warning voices of the chorus, until it is too late. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse bide their time.
6. The Demands of Good Governance: Unravelling the Gordian Knots
Despite setting a good precedent regarding ozone depleting CFCs most of the world’s governments pick ineffectually at the outer strands of the Climate Change problem as time runs out. Due to the intransigence of the Howard Government and its allies it is too late for timely action in this country so strong action is needed.
If anything is to be achieved the Government must show the resolution and firmness required in time of war or national emergency. It needs to unite the people and face down the vested interests that attempt to block any and every move to mitigate pollution by Greenhouse Gasses.
The rate of change in the burgeoning effects of global warming is exponential but quite unpredictable as cascading positive feedback effects cannot be quantified. We don’t even understand how far advanced we are along along the exponential curve but current indications are that is a lot further than we thought a year ago. It behoves humanity to do anything and everything in our power to mitigate the effects of our activities
In the case of measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions further delays and watered down policies will not just be fatal to individuals. Human suffering on an unprecedented scale will result from the failure of governments to resist the concerted pressure from domestic and globalised business interests. The burdens on whole societies, their physical and social infrastructure, water and soil resources, food supplies, health systems and economies will precipitate the failure of states. Deaths from famine, disease, genocide and war will escalate to unimaginable numbers. Billions will die.
In the absence of Divine Intervention, Alexander, or a White Knight it is the absolute duty of Australia’s Government to act for the present and future good of all Australians. We can set an example for the world that will be remembered as long as there are historians. It is up to the Minister to play the part of a bold Alexander and cut through the tangle of conflicting interests at the core of the knot.
7. Ensuring Effective Action on the CPRS
Evaluate threats and constraints & seize opportunities
In devising Climate Change Policy it is necessary to take into account current and potential threats and constraints on effective action, and deal with them. Now is a good time to make the most of public support and boldly seize the initiative.
The human institutions posing the major threats to achieving effective greenhouse gas mitigation are the same ones primarily responsible for the problem. They are neither organised nor inclined to effectively deal with it. Corporations may be legal entities with the rights of citizens but they are not required to assume the same responsibilities; indeed they are legally bound to make the increase of shareholder wealth their prime focus and responsibility. This becomes problematic and all too apparent in the current situation.
Being increasingly conscious that consumer opinion directly affects the single bottom line business has long defended its environmentally damaging activities through public relations strategies and “green washing” its public image. This is entirely understandable, usually legal and a direct threat to effective environmental policy. Nowhere is this more evident than in the scores of submissions made to the Garnaut Review by business and its related or supportive organisations and individuals.
A still greater threat is the enormous effort that global and national corporations, and industry groups put into directly lobbying governments. Such efforts include ethical, unethical and downright corrupt conduct, including the manipulating of politicians and other public servants. Democratic processes are subverted.
Old attitudes and habits of mind can also block or delay effective action. They include:
habit, inertia and political timidity;
greed, corruption and stupidity;
misinformation and ignorance;
active hostility based on fear of loss or change;
negativity from corporate, business, political, bureaucratic, or public bodies, and
a lack of clear-sighted, decisive government leadership in a time of looming crisis.
There are also problems associated with:
public distrust of politicians and governments;
a high degree of scepticism about the efficacy of democratic processes;
a lack of government expertise in interactive public communications;
short term political advantage trumping bipartisan approaches to the public good;
real and perceived threats to narrow but deeply entrenched economic interests;
potentially hostile media interests;
poorly designed or insufficient instruments for countering regressive social effects;
weak legislative frameworks;
unsuitable tax arrangements and other instruments of wealth distribution, and
unforeseen events, changing circumstances, and unintended consequences.
Shortage of time, money and other resources
We face severe time constraints. Decades of neglect, short termism, lack of investment, and poorly conceived environmental policy have made us vulnerable.
Modifying existing infrastructure and building new takes decades and billions of dollars. The financial costs to all levels of government and to industry are enormous.
There may be a skills shortage that can’t be met by immigration. There may be insufficient time or teachers for the education and training of the thousands required to undertake new and innovative roles. The public education system needs to be properly resourced and directed at a national level.
Opportunities for Effective Action
Times of crisis offer Governments rare opportunities to act strongly, as has been amply demonstrated in the last decade. Among all developed countries Australia is uniquely well placed to act, as well as uniquely vulnerable to climate change. What is required is courageous action to rally well informed public support for effective legislation.2
8. Cap & Trade Needs Regulating
The European experience shows that a purely market based approach as outlined in the Green Paper is simple, practical and undermined by a lack of effective regulatory backups.
An effective Government imposed cap-and-trade system creating a market for permits is a neat way to nullify many forces opposed to pro-environmental measures, and to encourage those who do see the need to act. This Green Paper’s policy framework provides the necessary but not sufficient conditions to achieve the Government’s stated aims. Unfortunately human nature, ingenuity and greed are quite capable of distorting the best market based systems and undermining the best policies.
Current circumstances and developments present more than an opportunity for regulation, they make it imperative. In the absence of a strong, overarching and transparent regulatory framework the threats to the proposed system are sufficient to undermine any government initiatives.
Why effective regulation is imperative
Current policies of industry self regulation partially overseen by under resourced and weakened regulators and law enforcement agencies have proved inadequate. The CPRS as proposed in the Green Paper guarantees new opportunities for unscrupulous and criminal operators.
Dishonest operators and criminal organisations are already involved in related fields such as waste disposal, recycling, the sale of carbon credits, green power, clean coal technologies, bio-fuels and bio-technology.
The Weekend Australian recently revealed that, “Underworld criminal networks and outlawed motorcycle gangs are exploiting weaknesses in corporate laws and poor regulation of financial markets, reaping multi-million-dollar profits from suspected share market manipulation, asset stripping and the snatching of control of companies they force into administration.
Five state and federal agencies – Victoria Police Purana gangland task force, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Tax Office – are investigating financial deals and share transactions worth at least $100 million. ……….. .Earlier this year, Purana took court action to seize under proceeds of crime laws $15 million of shares in the clean-coal technology company Linc Energy, allegedly owned by the member of a Melbourne crime family. ………… Criminals and their business associates are known to have purchased shares in a number of small resources and biotech companies. The stock prices later jumped sharply after the shares were heavily traded through Opus Prime or off the back of favourable analyst reports, takeovers or rumours fuelled through the internet.”
Such diabolical problems, and those associated with unscrupulous corporate bodies undermining the proposed system through seeking unethical gains, are entirely foreseeable in the application of the proposed CPRS. They must be guarded against and firmly dealt with. The appropriate regulators are Commonwealth and State governments. The scheme must not be allowed to fail due to corrupt or criminal interventions, or by undue influence by those espousing primitive 18th Century laissez fair ideologies.
9. An Independent Climate Change Commission
Not only should the right thing be done, it must be seen to be done.
Even in the teeth of fierce opposition the roles of the scheme’s regulator and auditors should be greatly enhanced. The appointed regulator should head a well resourced, Independent Greenhouse Commission.
The establishment of this body would benefit the Government by adding credibility and integrity to its scheme. It should incorporate transparent, interactive public reporting.
The Government should give the Commission wide discretionary powers to inspect, monitor, investigate, audit, and prosecute all participants in the system, including individual corporate and public officers, and all tiers of government.
The roles of the commission should include:
enhancing public awareness and information through public forums, both physical and electronic, and publications;
forming partnerships with educational institutions to provide education and training services to all stakeholders, including scheme induction;
providing ethical advice, counseling and training for stakeholders;
maintaining a register of environmental and industry lobbyists;
oversight of protocols for employing its own and related government officials;
oversight of related transparency and freedom of information matters;
publicity and promotion of low emission technologies and innovations, and
reporting progress in achieving the Government’s stated objectives.
The resources at the Commission’s disposal should include:
an investigative team with wide powers, including the ability to co-opt law enforcement officers, auditors and other experts;
improved whistle blower protection laws to encourage public interest disclosure;
powers to prosecute corporate bodies, their individual officers, associates, contractors and employees and public officials, and
laws to ensure appropriate sanctions for misbehaviour, non-compliance and corrupt or illegal activity up to and including long custodial sentences.
10. A Review of Corporate Law
It is timely to consider a comprehensive review of corporate law as a complimentary measure to the establishment of an Independent Climate Change Commission. It is high time to simplify and unify these laws to bring them more into line with community expectations and ethical behaviours. Such a review would require broad terms of reference in regard to the legal status of corporate bodies as they relate to society as a whole, and to the environment. The terms of reference should include topics such as:
transparency issues in conducting corporate affairs;
ethical and unethical behaviour;
compliance issues concerning corporations, their officers, employees, contractors and shareholders;
funding and sponsorship, both direct and hidden, of other bodies, entities and individuals;
the appropriate and inappropriate use of “commercial in confidence” statements;
the question of the influence of political donations and lobbyists and
“the revolving door syndrome” in which public officials and corporate officers are increasingly interchangeable.
This is not a good time to be deferring to powerful private interests, at home or abroad. This is a very opportune time for the Government to exercise its mandate and assert itself on behalf of its real employers – the people of Australia. If this means the declaration of a “State of National Emergency”, or a “National Crisis”, so be it. The adoption of special powers may be necessary to overcome the formidable obstacles placed in the way of effective greenhouse mitigation. It would certainly demonstrate Australia’s determination to the rest of the world and strengthen our bargaining position. It’s been done twice in the last decade for far less worthy causes and with much less reason. The threats terrorism poses to our civilisation are insignificant compared to major environmental hazards.
11. Opportunities for Further Effective Action: Cost Effective, Popular and Timely
Innovative techniques and technologies are emerging all the time and will offer greatly increased capacities for the reduction of greenhouse gases, but this is no reason for delay. Current technologies offer plenty of scope for action by determined governments and the private sector working together. If it acts wisely the Government can reduce emissions, boost the economy, counter regressive effects, and be fiscally responsible.
All tiers of Governments should show leadership and act quickly to provide strong incentives for the early adoption of low emission technologies across all sectors of society including business. This will provide great new opportunities for all levels of business across Australia. Existing technologies are already adequate to the task and they are continually being upgraded. Emerging technologies provide plenty of scope for new developments. New means of storing and discharging heat and electrical energy are greatly increasing our capacity to benefit from natural no or low carbon sources of energy.
The domestic sector, in particular, will respond positively if people are well informed, and treated with respect for their intelligence. Financial and cultural incentives are also important in enlisting a willing public in the nation building changes necessary to reset Australia’s economic and social parameters. Most people want to be involved. This is a huge plus for the Government. It would be arrant folly to miss the opportunity.
Three fields offering immediate and relatively inexpensive scope for more effective action are solar hot water systems, small electricity generation schemes and light electric vehicles (LEV’s) If implemented these schemes would provide opportunities for ameliorating the potentially regressive and inflationary effects of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and related policies. They would provide great opportunities for small and medium sized business and employ people leaving old polluting industries and the moribund Australian car industry. They would provide opportunities for people to act in their own interests whilst furthering Government policy. They are also “low hanging fruit” for all levels of government seeking credibility in achieving Greenhouse mitigation.
Solar hot water
Before the next budget, the Commonwealth, State and Local Governments should announce very generous well co-ordinated measures to assist small business, householders and landlords to retrofit solar hot water systems of at least 4.2kilowatts capacity. This should be worked out by all tiers of government in concert with nationwide networks of manufacturers, suppliers and mains energy suppliers.
Domestic & small scale electricity generation
Before the next budget, the Commonwealth, State and Local Governments should announce very generous well co-ordinated measures to assist small business, householders and landlords to retrofit photo-voltaic systems of at least 4.2kilowatts capacity. This should be worked out by all tiers of government in concert with nationwide networks of manufacturers, suppliers and mains energy suppliers.
At the same time governments should announce measures to assist communities to design, develop and bring on line communal power schemes based on a source, or any combination of sources, of suitable no carbon or low carbon energy. Depending on local conditions these might include solar power, photo-voltaics, hydro power, wind power, convection turbines, wave power, natural gas, methane, bio-diesel or any other applicable local energy source.
Generous reverse tariff and co-generation arrangements should be intrinsic to these schemes with the owner’s costs repayable at no interest over ten years via their mains supply bills. Similar systems should, of course, be mandatory on all new buildings, public and private. Similar schemes have been operating in parts of Europe for years, despite their relatively low solar radiation capacity. This has great potential to reduce the load on existing generating capacity, and lessen the need for more in the medium term It will ease the time pressures in building new power stations and transmission infrastructure.
Such popular measures would directly involve enthusiastic citizens in the whole national enterprise of greenhouse mitigation.
12. Some Transport Solutions
The private transport sector is a major emitter with the average age of cars in Australia between ten and eleven years. Lower income households in the outer suburbs, urban fringes and rural areas are those who have to travel furthest, own the most polluting vehicles and are least able to afford newer, more energy efficient vehicles. The cost of existing hybrid vehicles is way beyond their means.
Most conventional private cars are going to become cripplingly expensive to run but they will not be relinquished except under the most dire financial circumstances, or unless there are very attractive and affordable alternatives. Our car culture is not going to change any time soon, especially in the suburbs and rural areas. Besides temporary fuel tax cuts the Government should consider nationally unified road taxes based on engine emissions.
Public transport: not quite a panacea
In the outer fringes of all but the major cities and in rural areas public transport is mostly non existent or woefully inadequate and poorly networked. Huge improvements are needed. A well planned network of interconnecting light rail and bus routes and hubs is essential. Such systems are costly and the infrastructure takes years to establish.
Another factor is building public acceptance and usage. Until bus and rail services have excellent coverage, super interconnectedness and frequency, whilst being convenient and cheap, they will not attract sufficient people to make them financially viable. When they are not commuting to work most people will still prefer, and will often need, the flexibility and convenience of a private and/or personal vehicle able to carry two adults, a child or dog, or two, and some groceries.
There is no viable excuse for further delays in introducing light weight electric vehicles (LEV’s) which are are common elsewhere. They can be charged from the mains or alternative sources, and have ranges exceeding most day to day needs. Mains charging is not pollution free in most areas but the logistics make them hugely preferable to any vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE).
BEV’s, LEV’s & Quadricycles: simple, electric, & cheap private transport
A practical and desirable solution to the private car dilemma is provided by the cheap, battery electric vehicles (BEV’s) known as quadricycles. They resemble a small car but are much simpler and lighter. Depending on their characteristics they are categorised as light, medium or heavy. They have been in use in Europe, North America and parts of Asia for some years. There are over seven hundred in London alone, where they are provided with electric recharging points in special free or low cost parking bays.
An attempt to import a number of RAVs, an Indian make, for testing and evaluation was made in 2006. Senator Milne sought parliamentary support for this but met with strong opposition from the then Minister for Transport. The spurious grounds for opposing even the evaluation of quadricycles were that they did not meet ADR rules or state registration laws, and that the minister would not see the Australian motoring public exposed to such dangerous contraptions.3 He did not mention the dangerous contraptions such as bicycles, motor scooters, motor cycles, invalid scooters, roller scooters, roller skates or skateboards that menace innocent Australians at every turn. It must be surmised that it was Australian based foreign car makers and local distributors he was actually protecting. So much for free trade and consumer choice.
As a supposedly innovative nation moving to a low carbon economy perhaps we should be making our own quadricycles as they do in Europe, Asia, and North America. At the very least we should be importing, distributing and servicing them. If quadricycles were permitted in this country even the lowest income households would have access to cheap non-polluting personal transport. Young families, those on pensions, the infirm and the elderly would be among the greatest beneficiaries. The only costs to governments in permitting Australians the choice to to use quadricycles on our roads would be in providing appropriate parking and charging points. Otherwise it is a matter of adjusting Australian road and registration rules to allow licensed car drivers to use them.
Electric Motor Bikes, Scooters and More Cycles
Electric motor cycles and scooters are growing in popularity but public recharging points are not yet provided so commuting owners have to make their own arrangements with their workplaces if they wish to recharge them during the day,
Even simpler and lighter solutions can be provided by other types of vehicle not allowed for by our archaic road rules and obstructive state bureaucracies. Thus the electric scooter with pedal assist can’t be classified and are not allowed on Australian roads.
Some pedal cycles, including tricycles, with electric assist are allowed on the road. Another omission in the road rules is any mention of pedal quadricycles, with or without electric assist. Unfortunately the arcane restrictions on electrically assisted cycles render them all but useless over any distance or up hill for any but the young, fit and strong. Unlike other modes of transport they are not speed limited but power limited. A strange anomaly that means the road legal 200watt motors are of little use to those who most need them, the elderly, disabled and unfit who need to “pop down to the shops” for a few groceries but cannot pedal up the gentlest slope without assistance. This a real problem for people in rural areas who may need to travel several kilometres to the nearest village and cannot afford or do not wish to use a car, but can no longer pedal unassisted on such errands. It also restricts our recreational and social mobility.
At present the NSW RTA and other authorities are considering increasing the allowable power for electrically assisted cycles to 300watts. They just don’t seem to be able to grasp that it is kinetic energy due to speed that kills and maims, not power. All that is required is a simple speed controller limiting the bicycle, tricycle or quadricycle to 30 or 40km/h.
The conventional bicycle is the most efficient machine yet devised by man but Australia’s cities and towns are yet to provide properly networked and integrated cycle lanes and tracks for commuters and shoppers. Recreational riders are slightly better catered for in some places. Ill informed and highly stressed motorist and cyclists often come into conflict with lethal results.
13. A Broad Based Approach Includes Forestry Agriculture and Fisheries
A broad based approach is laudable, practical and absolutely necessary, but as it stands it isn’t nearly broad enough. Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries may not be “low hanging fruit” but it is imperative to include them. The Green Paper proposes to let forestry off the carbon cycle hook. Agricultural policy has been deferred. Fisheries don’t rate a mention.
There is no way the CPRS should be excluding industrial scale forestry from its coverage. Progress in achieving the Government’s stated objectives needs to be maintained accounted for and publicly recorded, including every aspect of forestry activity and timber processing, from seed planting, to burning off, to end of life product disposal.. Most forestry processes and products result in a large nett release of green house gasses. Most of its product are based on chips and pulp and have a relatively short life before being recycled , burnt or buried.
Industry claims that timber products sequester carbon are totally and deliberately misleading The only sequestration they can honestly claim is for finished products during their lifetime and growing trees. They fail to mention that far greater tonnages of greenhouse gases are released at every stage of production.
To then claim that using industrial wood waste to fire boilers for electricity generation is good for the environment beggars belief.
The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme must be strengthened and speedily implemented to ensure it effectiveness in mitigating Greenhouse Gas Pollution. I ask you to carefully consider the following fourteen recommendations as being effective, or vital, to achieving significant mitigations of Greenhouse gasses.
1. Adopt and implement the letter and spirit of the Garnaut Report.
As an initial step towards developing effective Climate Change policies the Government should heed all the findings and the spirit of the Garnaut Review, fully adopt its recommendations and go much further.
2. Government must act quickly, decisively and strongly
It is vital that, despite the diabolical problems involved, Government policy be able to reconcile the many dichotomies of the need to maintain a healthy economy, the urgent need to ameliorate the now inevitable effects of Global Warming, and the absolute necessity of strong and immediate action to avert the catastrophic consequences of continuing failure in mitigating damaging Greenhouse Gas emissions
3. Prioritise public and environmental imperatives
When conflicting dichotomies cannot be fully resolved Government policies need to prioritise the public good and environmental health over narrow economic interests.
4. Appoint an Independent Climate Change Commission
An effective regulatory framework is essential to environmental practice and law to ensure compliance, curb unethical or dishonest conduct, and ensure stated Government goals are met. An Independent Climate Change Commission is necessary to oversee the effective application of public policy and ensure transparency by governments and industry.
5. Review and revise all aspects of corporate law
A comprehensive review of corporate law is needed with the aims of simplifying and modernising these laws , bringing them into line with acceptable ethical standards and community expectations, and making them applicable across all Australian jurisdictions. Use Royal Commission if necessary.
6. Introduce measures to maximise the nationwide use of solar hot water systems
Before the next budget, the Commonwealth, State and Local Governments should announce generous well co-ordinated measures to assist small business, householders and landlords to retrofit solar hot water systems of at least 4.2kilowatts capacity. This should be worked out by all tiers of government in concert with nationwide networks of manufacturers, suppliers and mains energy suppliers.
7. Introduce measures to maximise the nationwide use of micro and small scale low and no emission power generation.
Before the next budget, the Commonwealth, State and Local Governments should announce generous well co-ordinated measures to assist small business, communities, householders and landlords to install photo-voltaic and other low or no emission power generating and storage systems of at least 4.2kilowatts capacity. As part of this policy governments should assist communities to design, develop and bring on line communal power schemes based on a source, or any combination of sources, of suitable no carbon or low carbon energy. Depending on local conditions these might include solar power, photo-voltaics, hydro power, wind power, convection turbines, wave power, natural gas, methane, bio-diesel or any other applicable local energy source. Generous reverse tariff and co-generation arrangements should be intrinsic to these schemes with the owner’s costs repayable at no interest over ten years via their mains supply bills. This should be implemented by all tiers of government in concert with nationwide networks of manufacturers, suppliers and mains energy suppliers.
8. The Government should appraise and follow up the opportunities presented by proven emerging and established low emission and no emission technologies.
9. The Government should promote the use of human powered and human/electric hybrid vehicles
In conjunction with other tiers of the Commonwealth Government should act promptly to ensure national action to legislate for the road use of adequately powered, speed-limited, human/electric hybrid vehicles such as bicycles, tricycles, rickshaws and light quadricycles.
10. The Government should promote the use of light electric vehicles
Existing legal and regulatory restraints should be removed to encourage the use of cheap, efficient, battery powered, private transport, such as battery electric vehicles in three categories: light, medium and heavy quadricycles (as specified in the European Union, parts of the USA, England and Scotland)
11. Tax policy should heavily favour low emission vehicles
12. The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme’s broad base should include forestry immediately plus agriculture and fishery within two years.
13. The education system needs be reinvigorated and refocused to promote and prepare for the emerging low emission economy
“Ready or not”.Australians will have to cope with the brave new world of climate change and our responses to it. It is essential that all Australians are well prepared and ready for the challenges and opportunities they face. The role of the public and private education systems should be regarded as vital to this. From pre-school to university, adult education, technical colleges, and U3A the education system should be developing Australians’ awareness, knowledge base, positive attitudes and skills in not only dealing with our brave new world but positively embracing it.
14. The interests of all communities adversely affected by changes to a low emission economy should be a priority of governments
By 2010 appropriate and generous support measures should be in place to assist vulnerable communities and families adversely affected by the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
All tiers of government must play their part to minimise the regressive effects of the necessary changes and to encourage people to rethink, retrain and develop new skills so they can embrace the opportunities these changes will bring. The specific regions at most risk should be generously resourced to assist them in this.
Australian governments should be retraining coal and car industry workers and ensuring their redeployment in the sunrise industries of the emerging low carbon economy. It is a waste of public money propping up moribund foreign car makers to keep manufacturing unwanted vehicles here, when it is clearly in their long term commercial interests to abandon Australia at the first opportune moment.
We live in interesting times. The only answer to life is YES!
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