It is understandable that people have lost confidence in the ability of politicians to tackle the climate crisis.
In one corner, the Liberals either deny the existence or downplay the seriousness of climate change. In the other corner, Labor and the Greens have championed a carbon tax that will do nothing towards seriously reducing carbon emissions.
In fact, the carbon tax is a cynical diversion away from what really needs to be done to address climate change. Not only it is incapable of reducing carbon emissions, but it is ordinary people, not the big polluters, who pay.
Carbon taxes and emissions trading leave the question of reducing carbon emissions in the hands of the big business polluters. They can either reduce their emissions, or buy a ‘license to pollute’ and pass the costs onto consumers. To make matters worse, emissions trading is the same type of ‘derivatives’ trading that contributed to the global financial crisis!
It is clear that ‘market solutions’ like carbon pricing and emissions trading are simply not capable of addressing the problem.
We are in the middle of the biggest fossil fuel investment boom in Australian history. Billions of dollars are being spent on expansion of coal mining, projects to extract coal seam gas, and numerous new coal-fired power plants.
Both major political parties are committed to promoting, subsidising and extending the multi-billion dollar fossil fuel industry, despite the fact that almost three quarters ofAustralia’s emissions come from producing and using energy from fossil fuels.
However, when there were regular protests of tens of thousands of people across the country demanding action on climate change, governments were forced to make promises. Now that this movement has died down, governments are feeling more confident to renege on previous targets and continue to ignore the science and support the big polluters.
What we need to do is rebuild this grass-roots movement from below and demand real action towards a sustainable future. This includes demanding serious public investment into renewable energy, public transport and the shutting down of coal-fired power stations.
Public ownership and community control of these projects is the only way to ensure the needs of people and the planet are put before the needs of big business!