2014 columns, Politics

Australia is going backwards on climate policy

by David Donaldson , March 17, 2014Leave a comment

climate change

 

During the Howard years, it was usual for Australia to be awarded ‘Fossil of the Day’ by climate advocacy groups whenever it attended a climate negotiation conference. The award signifies the country that had done the most to hinder climate change negotiations, and Australia has won a pile of them.

Then Rudd and Gillard came along, and Australia was applauded for finally taking action. Yes, people actually clapped when Rudd announced Australia would sign the Kyoto Protocol – something nearly everyone else had done years before – but Australia was seen as such a problem that even signing Kyoto engendered a sense of relief.

It looks like the Australian delegates to climate conferences will have to get used to public shaming by environmental groups again, as the Abbott government promises to repeal the carbon tax, ditch the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, has already de-funded the Climate Commission, and has appointed climate denier Dick Warburton to review Australia’s renewable energy target. It’s already begun, in fact – we were awarded Fossil of the Day at last year’s Warsaw climate conference.

The excuse Australia used to employ in the mid 2000s to avoid action was that if we acted too quickly on carbon emissions, all those other countries without restrictions would have an advantage over us. This line is being trotted out less and less, however, as it sits increasingly at odds with the facts.

A recent study on climate legislation around the world by the Globe Legislators Organisation singled Australia out for condemnation. Of the 66 countries included in the study (which accounted for 88 per cent of global carbon emissions), 62 had passed some kind of legislation to combat climate change. Australia appears to be the only country threatening to repeal its climate legislation and replace it with something widely seen as less effective (and probably more expensive).

By contrast, China is moving forward on climate action, albeit from a lower base. Now the world’s largest carbon emitter, several of China’s most economically productive provinces are already running emissions trading schemes, including Shenzhen, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangdong, Hubei and Chongqing. The Chinese government is considering the form of a national system expected to be in place by 2015, and is undertaking consultation based on climate laws in Europe, South Korea and Australia.

The United States is dragging its feet, but is slowly getting around to doing something. The President has announced a Climate Action Plan, though the influence of climate denialists in the often-ineffectual Congress and Senate has limited the action that can be taken nationally. California has a cap-and-trade system in place, however, and nine North-Eastern states have formed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reduce emissions.

The European Union continues to define the landscape with its long-standing European Climate Change Program (ECCP). Many smaller countries have also brought in innovative ways of tackling climate change, such as Bolivia’s Framework Law on Mother Earth Law and Integral Development to Live Well, which ties together climate change, environmental and socio-economic progress.

While Australia’s current system is still inadequate from a scientific point of view, it is clearly much better than what many other states have in place. The key difference is that while everyone else seems to be progressing, even if sometimes frustratingly slowly, Australia’s government is promising to go backwards.

To do so would be to shirk our responsibility to the rest of the world: although we may not emit as much as China or the United States, Australia is the 17th-largest emitter in the world, and Australians are among the very highest emitters per capita. China is reportedly reconsidering implementing a carbon tax in response to the Abbott government’s repeal plans.

Tackling huge, international problems like climate change, in which there are incentives to not play by the rules but still enjoy the gains made by others, means that reducing carbon global emissions requires significant trust between countries. For Australia – a hot, dry continent that will only get hotter and drier with climate change – to show such contempt for global climate efforts will only make it easier for other countries to avoid their responsibilities, too.

The age of carbon entitlement is over, Australia. If only our government could see that.

David Donaldson is a Master of International Relations graduate who lives in Melbourne. He tweets @davidadonaldson.

ACO logo




marilyn-ulysses

Reading Marilyn reading Ulysses: when celebrities are photographed with books

In 1955, photographer Eve Arnold snapped a now-iconic image of American actress Marilyn Monroe, in her bathers on a Long Island playground, reading James Joyce’s Ulysses. In the sixty years since, the photo has prompted continual suspicion in those who see literature and celebrity as mutually exclusive – was she really reading it? Read more »

capote-dog

The Outsiders: The early stories of Truman Capote

The recent publication of The Early Stories of Truman Capote – a collection of newly-discovered short stories from the archives of the New York Public Library – reveals the preoccupations of the adolescent Capote, drawn to drifters, exiles, and others living on society’s fringes. Read more »

CAROL

You Could Burn a House Down: Todd Haynes’s Carol

For many years, lesbians in fiction were punished for their social transgressions, condemned to a life of solitude, insanity, feigned heterosexuality and/or suicide. Radically, Carol portrays a lesbian love that doesn’t destroy or diminish its subjects, but enables them to transform, to grow and to be free. Read more »

21EMMYJP6-master675

Killings Columnists Pick Their Best of 2015

As 2015 concludes, we also farewell our fabulous 2015 Killings columnists. They’ve entertained and delighted us all year with fortnightly columns on culture, politics and society, and now they offer us a wrap up of their highlights for 2015 across their respective fields. Read more »

18-gilmore-girls.w1200.h630

Tim McGuire

Progressive to a Point: Homophobia and Gilmore Girls

You can’t watch a TV show over and over again without picking up on a couple of its flaws, much as you might prefer not to see them. In the case of Gilmore Girls, the hamartia I didn’t want to find was a troubling and weirdly homophobic one, layered over with pithy dialogue, pop culture nods, and the small town charm that made the show’s seven seasons such a success. Read more »

ROSEANNE - On set in New York - 10/16/93 
Sara Gilbert (Darlene) on the ABC Television Network comedy "Roseanne". "Roseanne" is the story of a working class family struggling with life's essential problems.
(AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC.)
SARA GILBERT

Rebecca Shaw

Out of the Imaginary Closet: Fictional characters who should have been gay

When you are part of a group that isn’t portrayed in the same way (or only negatively, or not at all) you become desperate for that glimmer of recognition. Here are several characters that I loved as a young person, who became stand-ins for the openly lesbian characters I wanted to see so much. Read more »

SPEAR_0014_Edward_Mulvihill copy 2

Lauren Carroll Harris

Eyes Open Dreaming: Spear and the potential for an Australian art cinema

Commercial success has long been prized as Australian cinema’s salve, and the values of that commerce-based vision of success have deeply permeated the national conversation. Spear sets this conversation aside entirely, raising in its stead the possibility of an art cinema in Australia. Read more »

CAROL

You Could Burn a House Down: Todd Haynes’s Carol

For many years, lesbians in fiction were punished for their social transgressions, condemned to a life of solitude, insanity, feigned heterosexuality and/or suicide. Radically, Carol portrays a lesbian love that doesn’t destroy or diminish its subjects, but enables them to transform, to grow and to be free. Read more »

Bowie - The Image  1

The Art of Immortality: David Bowie and The Image

With the news this week of David Bowie’s death at the age of 69 from a long battle with cancer, watching The Image is an oddly reassuring experience: the shared, mass hope that it can’t be true, that he’s not really gone, is played out in this grainy, almost haunted relic now almost 50 years old. Read more »

21EMMYJP6-master675

Killings Columnists Pick Their Best of 2015

As 2015 concludes, we also farewell our fabulous 2015 Killings columnists. They’ve entertained and delighted us all year with fortnightly columns on culture, politics and society, and now they offer us a wrap up of their highlights for 2015 across their respective fields. Read more »

18-gilmore-girls.w1200.h630

Tim McGuire

Progressive to a Point: Homophobia and Gilmore Girls

You can’t watch a TV show over and over again without picking up on a couple of its flaws, much as you might prefer not to see them. In the case of Gilmore Girls, the hamartia I didn’t want to find was a troubling and weirdly homophobic one, layered over with pithy dialogue, pop culture nods, and the small town charm that made the show’s seven seasons such a success. Read more »

PLM

Matilda Dixon-Smith

Family Matters: Please Like Me and the Aussie TV family

In a recent episode of Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me, the bouncy titles run over three little scenarios: Josh cooks dinner for his mate Tom and his boyfriend Arnold; his Mum cooks for her new housemate Hannah; and his Dad cooks for his wife, Mae. The three of them stir, sip wine and dance daggily around their kitchens in a neat metaphor for this season’s fantastic, cohesive new trajectory. Read more »

ss_8df8236403f5aad45eeedd33d2bd545e45435b39.1920x1080

Katie Williams

The More Things Change: Choice and consequence in Life is Strange

You can either be a benevolent hero or a monster, but few games deal with the multitudes contained by actual people. And what does it matter, anyway? There’s no such thing as regret when it comes to in-game decision-making – not when you can so easily restart the game to see what outcome will result from choosing Option B instead. Read more »

svfw crop

Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

AnimalCrossing copy

Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

Sydney - January 20, 2016: This Is How We Die perfomed during the 2016 Sydney Festival (photo by Jamie Williams/Sydney Festival)

Impossible Futures: Tomorrow’s Parties and This is How We Die

These two shows ask: how hard do we need to listen? In each, minutiae can be discarded, at least in slivers of time. Tomorrow’s Parties and This is How We Die each allow your brain to detach for a moment: to spin off into the different worlds they create, before returning once again, as best you can, to the work at hand. Read more »

Tom Conroy and Colin Friels in Mortido. Photo credit: Shane Reid

Jane Howard

A Shining Nightmare: Mortido‘s Sydney

Sydney is a city of shine and reflective surfaces. The glint of the harbour follows through to city high-rises clad in polished glass, bouncing off the wide windows of the mansions hugging the undulating land before it gives way to the impossibly deep and wide water. But this beauty that can betray the darkness of the city and its people. Read more »

_85072354_hamlet3-pa

Angela Meyer

Outrageous Fortune: Seeing Hamlet as a Cumberbitch

Jazz swells, hushing the audience, and the solid black gate of the theatre curtain opens. It reveals the lounging figure of Hamlet, playing a record, sniffing his father’s old jumper. But what I see first is not Hamlet: it is Benedict Cumberbatch. Read more »