Monday, December 04, 2006

Labor’s climate change plan meaningless without a coal moratorium

"Premier Morris Iemma has wedged himself with his statement that climate change is a key issue in this campaign, while at the same time overseeing the biggest expansion of the coal industry ever witnessed in NSW," Ms Rhiannon said.

"The 22 new coal projects proposed for NSW would have a combined capacity of 56.9 million tonnes of coal a year. This would result in the emission of 136.56 million tones of carbon dioxide every year.

"The Stern Review put a social cost on every tonne of carbon of $85. Applying this formula, the new proposals alone would have a social cost of over $11.5 billion.

"The Greens would prefer to work with Labor to tackle climate change. But if Premier Iemma and Planning Minister Sartor are not going to stop the Anvil Hill coal mine and the other new coal projects we will make coal an election issue.

"Coal is the elephant in the room. The NSW government is busy ignoring the major contribution that coal combustion makes to climate change.

"Talking about climate change without mentioning coal is like talking about obesity without mentioning junk food.

"The Greens Climate Futures Bill will place a moratorium on new coal projects. It will direct the NSW government to provide a transition package of retraining and jobs for coal communities, and to fast track the development of a renewable energy industry in NSW."

The Iemma Government's response indicates what could unfortunately be the reality of Government response to global warming: namely to admit the problem but fail to address it effectively because it is contrary to corporate interests to which the Government is beholden.

The debate has reached the point at which the scientific consensus on global warming, can no longer be denied, but not yet the point where Governments are obliged to take truly effective action. Yet time is running out, we have about a decade in which to take action lest the problem runaway from us.

The Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997, and therefore it has taken a decade for Governments such as John Howard's to even recognise the reality of the crisis. Will it take the only remaining decade before such Governments realise that action must be taken as well?

Governments and leaders have to speak honestly to industry and the public in relation to this crisis. The coal industry is killing the planet, and emissions have to be cut by 80% by the year 2050. The sooner some frank talking and serious policy initiatives are embraced the easier it will be to face the real problem.

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