Friday, September 19, 2008

Message to Garnaut: we want to stop global warming

We are at another of those turning points in the effort to reverse, halt or even moderate global warming, with Professor Ross Garnaut about to finalise his report on how the Rudd government should tackle climate change. This report is crucial as it will be the basis on which the government formulates its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions and position Australia in the world effort to halt global warming.

Going on Garnaut's draft report, those advocating stronger action have criticised Garnaut's proposed greenhouse gas emission targets as too little and too slow in effectively slowing CO2 build-up, and slowing global warming and the knock-on effects in dangerous climate change.

According to global warming campaigners, including Clive Hamilton, Get Up Australia and (amongst others), Ross Garnaut must strengthen the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in his plan in order to more effectively reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. The crux of the matter is that Garnaut doesn't believe that Australians are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices – including paying higher prices for energy and slowing in economy growth – in order to effectively cut our greenhouse gas emissions.

As outlines it:
Solving the climate crisis will only happen if we can muster the political will for change, but Australia's leading climate change advisor Professor Garnaut, who is delivering his long awaited report to the Prime Minister at the end of the month, doesn't think Australia or the world has the mettle to face the crisis. wants as many Australians as possible to sign their online petition calling for stronger targets to be delivered to Ross Garnaut this Monday – hopefully in time to influence him as he prepares the final version of his plan to the government. Help them to get 20,000 signatures!

Clive Hamilton's concerns with Garnaut's plan hinge on the issue that while Garnaut recognises that climate scientists agree that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere must be reduced to 450 million parts per million in order to avert dangerous global warming, his plan advocates a lower target:

…Garnaut has decided that keeping warming at 2°C is too hard, at least for the next decade or more, so instead he says we should aim to stabilise at 550 ppm. Climate scientists believe that allowing the atmosphere to reach 550 ppm will dramatically increase the likelihood of catastrophes and runaway climate change, such as an irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet resulting in sea-level rise of seven - yes, seven - meters.

There have been a lot of information sheets, briefings and explanations explaining Ross Garnaut's draft report floating around, but for the time-pressed who can't digest these, I highly recommend Get Up's excellent video clearly explaining the report's recommendations, Get Up's reactions to them and suggestion of what really needs to be done (see the still from the video below).

Meanwhile, we have a small window of opportunity this time round to influence the global warming policy agenda in favour of stronger targets. We have the opportunity to show the government – and each other – that we are prepared to have the foresight to do what it takes to stop global warming. And we must show each other that we aren't alone. As Clive Hamilton says in the article I've already referred to:

Does anyone believe that Australians would be less happy if they had to wait an extra six months before they became twice as rich? The absurdity of the situation set out in the Garnaut report suggests our obsession with economic growth is so powerful that we are unwilling to contemplate sacrificing a tiny amount of consumption to sharply reduce the risk of irreversible damage to the Earth's climate.

I, for one, am prepared to join the thousands of others who are prepared to pay the price now to stop global warming, rather than making my children pay the price.

As I said at the start of this post, we are at one of those turning points in the effort to stop global warming. We can either continue to fiddle around the edges of policy and emissions targets while this continent burns – and other parts of this globe flood – or we can hold the Rudd government to its rhetoric and force its hand to pursue something more effective in stopping global warming. Something that is more befitting the futures of our children and grandchildren, rather than the profit margins of carbon polluters.

It is time to put a plug in the carbon economy
, rather than continuing to pander to the carbon polluters.

[Images: 'flying over Greenland' by Doc Searls, Creative Commons licensed, found via Alex Steffen at - btw, Alex Steffen's article 'The Tyranny of Small Steps' is well worth reading – and still from Get Up's video on Garnaut]

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At September 22, 2008 11:32 am, Blogger unique_stephen said...

My wife is working on it.

At September 22, 2008 11:43 am, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

I bet you just love being able to say that! Good on her! But that's not going to let you off the hook. Then again, looking after the kids so she can go off and do that is a pretty important and special thing to contribute!

At September 22, 2008 12:38 pm, Blogger unique_stephen said...

I used to work as an environmental scientist - that is where we met.

She is working on alternate energy projects. Making them happen.

and we turn off the tv at the wall :-)


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