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Laggards or Leaders

While Joe Hockey labels Australians as “lifters or leaners”, governments are similarly judged as “laggards or leaders”. In one fell swoop this government has taken us from being a world leader to a despised laggard.

You could be forgiven for not knowing there was a climate change conference in Bonn in June. In fact, I am not even sure if we actually sent anyone. The last I heard, the delegates were standing around at Sydney airport wondering what to do because the PM’s plane had flown off to France full of photographers and businessmen, relegating the delegates to catch commercial flights, but the PM’s office, who control such things, had neglected to give approval for their expenses.

Since I had heard no reports of the conference I looked for myself. This was the first story I came across.

Australia awarded Fossil of the Day at UN Climate Talks for Trying to Reconvene Flat Earth Society

June 10 2014, Bonn – Germany: CAN bestows the first Fossil Award of the Bonn UNFCCC negotiation session to Australia in recognition of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s stupendously brazen denial of the catastrophic risks posed by climate change in his effort to form an alliance of “like minded” countries opposed to action on climate change, already dubbed by some as a new “flat earth society.”

News accounts report that the Minister has enjoined Canada in his new coalition and is reaching out to other countries including the UK and India “aiming to dismantle global moves to introduce carbon pricing.”

CAN salutes the Abbott’s commitment and consistency in his willful blindness to the catastrophic economic costs incurred by climate change.

He has also recently announced his intention to keep climate change out of the upcoming G20 talks hosted by Australia arguing that climate change is inappropriate because such talks are primarily about economics.

Prime Minister Abbott must have missed the IPCC memo which spells out that climate change is the economic problem facing our age – it’s already costing us, but it doesn’t cost the earth to save the world.

He is clearly looking for recognition of his visionary approach to climate change, and CAN is proud to be among the first to step out and congratulate his dedication to the fossilized past. [In case you were wondering – no, this isn’t a joke. Abbott has really done this. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.]”

This came on the heels of the report from the conference in Warsaw in November last year.

November 22, 2013

This year’s Colossal Fossil goes to Australia. The new Australian Government has won its first major international award – the Colossal Fossil. The delegation came here with legislation in its back pocket to repeal the carbon price, failed to take independent advice to increase its carbon pollution reduction target and has been blocking progress in the loss and damage negotiations. Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!

Some people have described our new Senators as a “breath of fresh air”. What I see is ill-informed naivety. Clive Palmer has somehow convinced these “ordinary people” that Australia will be better off without a carbon price and a mining tax. Nice going, Clive.

Tony Abbott has managed to do the same, telling us that our cost of living will go down, jobs will be created, and investment money will flow … but don’t bet the house on it.

This unholy alliance has sent Australia backwards but they will not prevail. Their actions will be increasingly condemned as the world forces them to take action on the greatest challenge our planet has ever faced.

Image by

Image by

Abbott will face enormous pressure at the G20 summit later this year, and at the climate change talks in Paris next year, despite his efforts to remove discussion from the agenda. Under pressure from Obama, in a typically immature approach to control the language, Abbott agreed to discuss “energy efficiency.”

A recent poll by the Lowy Institute showed that after six years of declining public concern about climate change, the trend had reversed with 45 per cent of people saying it is a “serious and pressing problem.”

In the meantime, it is worth remembering that smart, decent people are waiting for this temporary nightmare to pass and have viable plans for the direction our future must take.

In July 2012, Beyond Zero Emissions produced a document called “Laggard to Leader – How Australia Can Lead the World to Zero Carbon Prosperity.” The main thrust of the study is:

  • Australia must stop using the promise of a global treaty that won’t eventuate to duck responsibility for its ballooning coal and gas exports.
  • A moratorium on coal and gas expansion followed by a phasedown will drive a massive increase in global renewable energy investment.
  • Australia can lead the world to cheap, abundant renewable energy by deploying off-the-shelf, zero carbon technology that will grow Australia’s prosperity.

The International Energy Agency warned in 2012, “the door to a 2°C trajectory is about to close.” To keep the door open, global emissions must peak and begin to decline by 2020 at the absolute latest and then keep declining to zero by between 2040 and 2050. We are in “the critical decade”. Decisions we make today will largely determine the state of the climate system within which all subsequent generations must live.

The world’s nations gathered in Durban in late 2011 to continue long-standing negotiations towards a comprehensive international treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The best they could agree was that they would aim to negotiate by 2015 an agreement requiring some countries to start reducing emissions beginning in 2020. These negotiations cannot be relied upon to secure the emissions cuts that are required. “It is clear”, argue the editors of the world’s preeminent scientific journal, Nature, “that the science of climate change and the politics of climate change … now inhabit parallel worlds”.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Australia where the Federal Government and its State Government counterparts are aggressively supporting a massive programme of investment in new mines, wells, pipes and ports. These projects will see Australia export a staggering amount of highly emissions-intensive coal and gas during – and well beyond – the critical decade.

Australia is already the world’s largest coal exporter, responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s traded coal, and is the fastest growing exporter of liquefied natural gas. The emissions embodied in Australia’s fossil fuel exports already total much more than our “domestic” emissions. Based on data accumulated by Australian Government agencies, Australia’s combined coal and gas exports are projected to more than double between now and 2030.

To allow this to occur would be catastrophic for global efforts to avoid dangerous climate change: it would mean Australia would be causing more than 1 in every 10 tonnes of the greenhouse gas emissions that can be emitted into the atmosphere in 2030 consistent with a 2°C warming trajectory.

Australia is the steward of its natural resources. They belong to all Australians and we can choose what to do with them. When our exports of coal and gas are burned, the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is the product of these choices. The fact that these emissions are not counted in Australia’s “carbon accounts” under UN carbon accounting rules has previously been used as an excuse for us to ignore their consequences.

But these rules are based on the idea that all countries will have emissions reduction targets, the achievement of which will “add up” to the global cuts necessary to stay within the 2°C limit. With the UN negotiations deadlocked and no foreseeable prospect of such an international regime emerging in the necessary timeframe, this excuse is not acceptable.

Hoping, against all probability, that the negotiations will reach a breakthrough just in time, while at the same time making the problem they are trying to solve significantly worse is a dangerous, counterintuitive and counterproductive approach for Australia to take.

It is well beyond time to approach the global challenge of preserving a safe climate in a very different way. It is time to put leadership towards zero carbon prosperity at the heart of our response.

The logic of “Cooperative Decarbonisation” is simple. Each country must phase down to zero or very near zero the greenhouse gas emissions associated with every economic and social process over which it has control or influence. Instead of drawing lines at national borders, this approach recognises that, in a globalised economy, countries have shared responsibility for many of the emissions that occur in any one place. As such, countries should use every lever they have to eliminate those emissions within their “sphere of influence”, including the fossil fuels they export and the goods they import.

Clearly, international cooperation will be required – particularly to ensure that the goals of sustainable economic development are achieved and that wealthier countries assist low income countries to make this essential transition. But instead of trying to do it all in one “grand bargain” as they are today, countries should work in smaller groups, focusing their efforts on the individual sectors and processes that cause emissions – working to leave fossil fuels in the ground, preserve the world’s forests and make renewable energy affordable for all.

Australia, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, is one of only a small handful of countries that can lead this process. The main reason for this is simple: our sphere of influence over global emissions is immense. Our high domestic emissions make us an important player, on par with nations like France, Spain and South Korea. But it is our ballooning coal and gas exports that make us a truly critical influence on global emissions.

We can use this position to focus the attention of world leaders on the most important, yet least discussed part of the climate problem: the fact that only one eighth of the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves can safely be burned. Australia can help make that which is currently “unthinkable” – a global fossil fuel phase out – a reality.

We need an Australian moratorium on new fossil fuel developments: a bold move from the world’s largest coal exporter that can serve as the centrepiece for a wider call to action. Such a move would maintain the current global price of coal and stop it from falling by an expected 30% this decade. It would be one of the few conceivable ways that any single country could jolt world leaders into action, creating the economic and political momentum to commence immediate global discussion on the best and fairest means to phase-out fossil fuels.

Thankfully, Australia’s global power does not arise only from our ownership of the resources that are fuelling the problem. As the beneficiary of world class solar and wind resources, we also hold the key to the most important solutions.

Solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind energy are essential to decarbonising the world’s energy system. Thanks largely to the targeted investments made by Germany and other European countries when these technologies were more expensive, they have sailed down the “cost curve” and are now price-competitive with fossil fuel energy in many markets. Germany’s installation of almost 30GW of solar PV brought PV prices down by an incredible 65% over the past six years.

The other crucial technology is concentrating solar thermal (CST) with storage. This technology, which is operating today in other countries, produces 24 hour energy from the power of the sun. The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan showed that powering the Australian economy using predominantly CST is technically and economically achievable, starting now, in ten years. The greatest gift that sunny Australia could give to the world is to repeat for CST what cloudy Germany did for solar PV: through smart policies and targeted investments, enable the deployment across Australia of enough CST to make this game-changing technology cost-competitive with fossil fuels everywhere.

Cheap renewable energy will solve some of the most challenging problems facing humankind this century – from climate change, to oil scarcity, to energy poverty – and allow us to build a global economy on foundations as reliable as the rising sun.

Australia has the power to make it happen. It is up to us to insist that it does.


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  1. Keitha Granville

    And what about the news that one of the Victorian energy providers is charging a solar levy to customers who have the audacity to include solar panels as part of their energy supply ? How can they charge people for something they don’t supply ? How can you pay a tax on the sun ? It’s abominable. What about all the times they encourage people to use less energy ? Surely having solar helps. We HAVE to stop this insanity. If they try that in Tassie we’ll be selling all we can to get batteries and go off the grid completely – then they lose all our business. We need someone with megabucks to start a renewable energy company – oh wait, we have it here, it’s called hydro. Go figure.

  2. Kaye Lee

    Tasmania will be far worse off without a carbon tax. I sent this to Jacqui Lambie a while ago trying to inform her. I didn’t get a reply.

    If you truly care about Tasmania you need to realise that the carbon price gives Tasmania a distinct competitive advantage due to your hydro capabilities.

    Messing with it is costing jobs

    “Hydro Tasmania has announced it is to cut about 100 jobs, citing the repeal of the carbon tax as a factor.

    The state-owned power company attributed the cuts to the scrapping of the carbon tax, doubt over the future of the Renewable Energy Target, and a downturn in the consulting market.”

    I doubt that Jacqui does her own research because if she did, and she actually DID care about Tasmania, she would have voted differently

  3. Kaye Lee

    I sometimes wonder about Al Gore

    “The decision to repeal Australia’s nationwide price on carbon is, as I said last month, a disappointing step for a country that continues to experience the worsening consequences of the climate crisis. Australia has been a longtime world leader in the effort to halt global warming. By repealing its carbon price, Australia is falling behind other major industrialized nations in the growing global effort to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a clean and prosperous future.”

    So why was he standing next to Clive??????

  4. keerti

    because he is gullible! next question!

  5. kitegirlcoach

    I don’t know why he stood next to Clive but he looked extremely uncomfortable to me. His expression told of a fear he was being hoodwinked.

  6. Kaye Lee


    That story is outrageous.

    Simply Energy, the retail arm of GDF Suez, which owns the Hazelwood brown coal generator in the Latrobe Valley, has proposed an additional 14c-a-day levy on solar households in the fixed charge component of its electricity bills.

    The proposed tariffs were gazetted in January, but have only recently come to light. It results in an extra fixed charge of $51 a year for households with solar. It takes the fixed component of their bill to $400 a year.

    John Grimes, CEO of the Australian Solar Council, described the move as staggering, outrageous and discriminatory.

    “They are not charging users who pile on demand during periods of peak demand (like air conditioner users), pushing power prices up for everyone,” he said in an emailed statement.

    “Instead they are targeting users who lower demand during peak periods, take the most expensive load off the grid, push wholesale prices down, and delay or remove the need for expensive network upgrades.

    “Simply Energy’s solar customers should make sure they understand what the death spiral is all about. Instead of changing their business model in the face of new technology, Simply Energy want to punish solar customers.”

    Fossil fuel generators blame rooftop solar for taking away earnings at what used to be the most profitable time of the day.

    So consumers have to pay unprofitable polluters for affecting their profits by reducing their usage by installing solar. Sounds fair.

  7. sandrasearle

    Clive is pretty good at manipulation to make sure that he remains at the top of the wealth pile.
    There was a brief moment a little while back that I thought that he just might become a ‘knight in shining armor’ & divest his mining interests, but that did not last (barely a minute I suspect).
    Clive has hoodwinked the general public the same way as he has hoodwinked those who have joined him in the senate. These people are totally misinformed yet again by someone who says one thing but does something else. A little like someone else we all know which goes to figure as he was one of the LNP benefactors for many years.
    This man is just as dangerous to this country as Abbott & his mob are. They are all following the ideology of more power & more greed is good. Pity it is not that way for the majority of this country.

  8. Anomander

    The term “Leadership” is anathema to Abbott. He is not a leader by any stretch of the imagination. He demonstrates a distinct lack of vision, actively disempowers those around him, shows no empathy or concern for anyone else, is incapable of communicating effectively and appears to have no purpose, apart from following the commands issued by his puppet masters.

    Record in stone the names of every low-life, scum-bag that voted to repeal the carbon pollution tax, that future generations should forever know those who chose to sell-out their health, their prosperity and their future. May their graves be forever declared public urinals.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of empathy and concern,

    The plane that was shot down was carrying over 100 delegates to an International Aids conference in Melbourne. Will that affect the decision of Kevin Andrews, Eric Abetz, Cory Bernardi, Bernie Finn and Fred Nile to speak at an anti-gay conference next month in Melbourne?

    “The extreme lunar right of what was once a great political party have come up with a beauty — one could say, a real doozey.

    It will not come as a surprise that the ring leaders of what we are to reveal are none other than the master of disaster himself, Kevin Andrews (of Dr Haneef fame); the Government Senate Leader, Industrial Relations Minister Senator Erich Abetz; and the biggest and most ideologically dangerous non-entity in Victoria’s Upper House, Bernie Finn, whose mind is so damaged he has called for rape victims who become pregnant to be denied abortions.

    That scary trio of Flat Earth Society members month have become affiliated with a discredited conglomeration of social misfits who work under the banner of the World Congress of Families. The WCF managing director is a Dr Larry Jacobs, whose only known claim to fame as far is his statement that Russia is the Christian saviour of the world because of the country’s attitude to homosexuality.

    The Congress is holding a “regional event” in Melbourne on 30 August. The event had originally been scheduled to be held in Moscow, but U.S. and European sanctions against Russia over Ukraine had forced the organisers to scramble for a new venue at the last minute.

    Kevin Andrews is fully on board, opening and closing the event. And whose name has appeared on the list of supporters who will be attending the Congress?

    None other than Senator Cory Bernardi.”,6681

  10. Lee

    Bwahahaha! Will have to post links to the Fossil Award on some Liberal pages on Facebook tonight.

  11. Lee

    I received a letter from AGL recently, informing me that my electricity costs were going to increase from the 15th July. The content of the letter indicates that they knew the likely repeal of the carbon tax was imminent and they stated that if it was repealed then their charges would decrease. If they really are going to pass that saving on to the consumer and not just do an Abbott on us (i.e. lie) then why spend money on sending letters to all their customers for the sake of a few days of increased charges, and then send out another one soon to inform us of the revised charges?

  12. Lee

    “The Congress is holding a “regional event” in Melbourne on 30 August. ”

    I just looked up the attendance list. Looks like a good place for a mardi gras. 😉

  13. Anomander

    You’re damn right Sandra – Palmer is one of the most dangerous men in the nation, yet so few people see it because he portrays himself as this chubby, affable clown whose antics are eccentric, mildly outrageous and he appears to stand-up to the political fogeys.

    Unlike most politicians, he speaks the common tongue, placating and feeding the complaints of ignorant punters, yet underneath he has a razor sharp mind and an innate ability to manipulate people.

    He is often seen as a role-model for the aspirational middle-class fools, who would like to believe that with enough good luck, they too may be rich just like him, without ever understanding that this is a pipe dream perpetrated by the rich on the unsuspecting masses to keep them compliant while they are being mercilessly screwed.

    We should never forget that Clive didn’t become a billionaire by being a jolly, fat fool, he did it through ruthlessness and a deep understanding or people’s motivations and psychology and using them as levers to achieve his own personal outcomes.

    He used his wealth to buy his way into politics and everything he has done in entering this parliament has been to enhance his business interests, increase his personal wealth and expand his persona and influence. He makes a huge show of extracting supposed concessions, but ultimately his aim is to extend his power and earn himself more money into the bargain. He stands to gain immensely from the destruction of the carbon and mining taxes – he was never going to oppose them or anything that is likely to harm his money-making capacity.

    In many respects he is even more dangerous than Abbott because he owes no allegiance to anyone but himself – he says whatever he likes and is never held to account because everyone knows he’s a bit eccentric and he “isn’t a politician at heart”, and that can be forgiven by those too stupid to take a deep interest in politics.

    The combination of Palmer and his gaggle of moronic PUPpies and the extremist ideology of the COALition, means we progressives face a bleak future that will take generations to rectify.

  14. Kaye Lee



    On the weekend of the 30th and 31st August 2014, March in August rallies will take place around the nation in over 40 locations.

    Over 85,000 people took part in the July rallies and now once again community members will take to the streets to voice their opposition to the Abbott government’s policy agenda.

    Once again people will march under our March Australia banner of “The People United For Better Government” to cast a vote of no confidence in the federal government.

    JOIN US! Let’s remind the government that the PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER!



    Sunday, August 31 at 1:00pm
    State Library of Victoria (closest train station, Melbourne Central)

    A march the day after they meet 🙂

  15. Lee

    Thanks Kaye, I have put that in my diary.

    I was thinking of an LGBTI mardi gras though, to wind up the Congress attendees. 😉

  16. Kaye Lee

    I am sure there will be many different groups eagre to have a word with those guys and the entire government. Trying to decide what to put on the sign will be the hardest thing.

  17. Kaye Lee

    The one time when Abbott SHOULD shut up, he is out there braying that it was probably Russian backed rebels that shot down the plane and that, if Russia has any decency, it will pay compensation. They don’t even have investigators there yet and Tony is pissing Putin off. Forget climate change….we have a more imminent danger – the Abbottalips.

  18. Lee

    Abbott is probably trying to deflect attention from something closer to home. I’m sure Asbestos Julie is doing her best to piss Putin off too.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Calling in the Russian ambassador prematurely is worse than calling in the Chinese ambassador. Abbott and Bishop need to be doing sympathy and support rather than sabre rattling before they know any facts. And of course they will latch onto anything to deflect attention from their domestic stuff ups. It’s amazing that journalists have been able to get in to the crash site but investigators haven’t…perhaps Tony has inside info from Rupert. I wish he’d wait to hear from the experts but sadly, that isn’t Tony’s best thing. Once more unto the breach….

  20. mars08

    And there he was on TV…. all puffed up and outraged… “the perpetrators must be brought to justice” he DEMANDED! Our very own GW Bush. How quaint….

  21. nefariouswheel

    Anyone notice the news out of Miami, Florida? There are shop fronts that are flooding. “I’ve owned this shop for eight years” said one, “I’ve never seen it this bad”. The footpath is under water in front of his shop.

    The Rolling Stone mentions that there was a dead manatee in the swimming pool where Elvis once swum. But seaside real estate is booming.

    I think it’s a bit like people building their houses on the side of Vesuvius.

  22. sdrawkcaB

    Lifters or Leaners…

    Hockey kicked off life at a 13 grand a year primary school.

    I kicked off life at a school whose uniform included no shoes for those who could not afford them. I first wore shoes when I was 8, a set of hand-me-downs.

    I am over rich men with privileged upbringing commenting on aspects that effect my life.

  23. Jason

    @Kaye Lee

    I agree Abbott should be more circumspect, but I dare say there will be more sabre rattling on the way. Although, I doubt his tough guy stare-down with Vlad has much to do with deflecting from domestic political issues as it does with his desire to be a “war prime-minister”.

    Unfortunately, the very sad event of yet another lost MAS flight, this time locatable to Ukraine, only stokes the militaristic ambitions of the US.

    Abbott is adopting the posture of a far-right American politician. The question becomes is that by accident or by design? Is this a designated role as part of a broader plot? A number of coincidences are playing themselves out as far as the US & EU applying pressure to Russia is concerned. As such, it would be prudent for all Australians not to get caught up in a (understandable) rush to retribution. These are worrying times and hopefully the United Nations will step up and demonstrate calm and reason in a situation that could quickly degenerate into something catastrophic.

  24. Kaye Lee

    As the Occupied territories explode….oh sorry…disputed. Lucky we have the “adults” in charge. We now have to tread carefully with Indonesia, China, Russia and Palestine.

    I’m working on my kiwi accent.

  25. jimhaz

    [Hockey kicked off life at a 13 grand a year primary school]

    This made me recall an episode of Kitchen Cabinet, of Hockey in his Canberra doss house. Conditions were quite miserly – not atypical, for young blokes, but not rich.

    Didn’t find that, found this bit though.

  26. Kaye Lee

    I also love the way that Malaysia has changed from a country to which Joe Hockey would NEVER send a child into a close friend who we will give armed patrol boats to so they can keep asylum seekers from seeking asylum. It is really worth reminding yourself of Joe’s hypocrisy by watching the following interview right to the end where he talks about us being legal guardians of children seeking asylum.

  27. Kaye Lee

    Oh beaut….

    “Moscow has voiced anger over being blamed by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the downing of a Malaysia passenger jet over eastern Ukraine that killed all 298 people on board, calling his comments “unacceptable”.

    “Without bothering himself about evidence and operating only on speculation, Mr T. Abbott assigned guilt,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “Abbott’s statements are unacceptable.”

    Meanwhile, commentary from China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency described the reaction by Australia and the US as “rash”, and warned Western nations against rushing to implicate Russia.”

    Read more:

    Will someone shut these idiots up please

  28. Michael Taylor

    Meanwhile, Kaye, congratulates both he and our esteemed Foreign Minister for their tough talk.

  29. Mercurial

    Is anybody able to explain to me why Clive Palmer’s mining interests don’t constitute a conflict or interest (CoI) with his party’s role in getting rid of the mining tax? And if it is a CoI and that’s all sweet, why isn’t there a rule against it?

  30. trevor

    Front page of the west Australian today with a Banner headline about Woman of Steel and photo of Asbestos Bishop and a story how she made the Russians cry with her story about Australian family killed in MH17..

    Talk about propaganda of the worst type, but I did have words with the editor of the WA News about an Abbott and Telethon front page the day before the senate election in which I congratulated him on being chief turd polisher for WA News and received a testy response or two..

    So the chief turd polisher for the WA News polished up a great big Turd and Polished it to within a cm of its life about Asbestos Bishop.

    What can one expect when the Mainstream and the Affluent Effluent feel under attack for having elected a looser named Abbott..

    Export Abbott not Refugees.

  31. RalphG

    Asbestos Bishop
    …asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). The trade and use of asbestos have been restricted or banned in many jurisdictions.

    Sounds about right 😉

  32. mars08

    That’s not it…

    Years ago, Julie Bishop was one of the lawyers working for CSR… defending it in asbestos compensation cases.

  33. RalphG

    Yes mars08, I understood why she was called Asbestos Bishop. Alas, it would appear that my attempt at humour failed 🙂

  34. corvus boreus

    I get you, Ralph.
    Julie B has asbestos eyes; they do not burn, nor do they melt. 😉

  35. RalphG

    cb, you are usually quite perceptive so your comment tells me that I have truly failed 🙁

    My attempted humour referred to “the use of asbestos have been restricted or banned in many jurisdictions”.

  36. mars08

    I think both cb and I got your humour. Yes, the younger Bishop is a health hazard best avoided.

    I saw the joke… I just wasn’t sure you knew that there was also another (less funny) side to the nickname.

  37. corvus boreus

    It’s export to certain regions is prohibited for reasons of local health and safety. It causes terminal cancers, festering sores and embarrassed coughing.
    We still export plu-tony-um.

  38. Kaye Lee

    Canada is the only G8 country still mining and selling asbestos. In Canada asbestos related diseases have became the number one occupational cause of death. Federal and provincial subsidies to the now closed Chrysotile Institute in Montreal were finally stopped in 2012.

    The Institute used to promote chrysotile asbestos internationally and spread its so-called “scientific claims” about its safe use. Their fraudulent scientists most effectively muddied what otherwise are a clear national and international scientific consensus: to ban the use of a highly dangerous product which has been proven to be extremely harmful to human health.

    One had hoped that this would have been the end of Canada’s export of chrysotile asbestos. Not so, greed, disregard of human decency and misplaced political ambition resulted in a huge Liberal government bailout for Quebec’s asbestos mine, announced on June 30th 2012. Investors were found who took over the underground mine in Asbestos. This mine had not been used for many years because strip mining, as long as it lasted, had been cheaper. The underground mine had filled with water which had to be pumped out adding to the environmental disaster of mountainous and drifting tailings.

    US Domestic Production and Use: Asbestos has not been mined in the United States since 2002. The United States is dependent on imports to meet manufacturing needs. Asbestos consumption in the United States was estimated to be 1,060 tons, based on asbestos imports through July 2012. The chloralkali industry accounted for an estimated 57% of U.S. consumption; roofing products, about 41%; and unknown applications, 2%.

    Import Sources (2008–11): Canada, 87%; Zimbabwe, 5%; and other, 8%.

  39. RalphG

    “We still export plu-tony-um.”

    Yes and unfortunately the waste keeps being returned.

  40. RalphG

    Britain’s second contamination of Australia with plu-tony-um is likely to affect more people than the first but the effects won’t be felt for as long.

  41. corvus boreus

    Agreed, he will malinger painfully, but has not the half life of a Maralinga.
    A moment for the pidgunjarra(apologies for gubber-spell) slain and maimed.

  42. Kaye Lee

    A shameful episode from our past. One wonders how our inaction on climate change will be viewed in the future.

    The 103,000 citizens of Kiribati may soon become refugees, perhaps the first mass movement of people fleeing the consequences of global warming rather than war or famine.

    A delegation of young people came from Kiribati to plead with our government…they were too busy to meet with them 🙁

    “We have come all the way from our islands because we care about the lives of our children whose contribution to climate change is next to nothing but who may not be able to call Kiribati or Tuvalu home. For us this is not about politics, nor economics, but it is about survival of culture, our language and our identity.”

  43. Douglas Evans

    Kaye Lee
    Your interesting article touches on issues I had a little knowledge of at the time so I’ll try a comment.
    First I attended a presentation and roundtable discussion by the lead authors of the BZE report you quote extensively from, prior to its publication. The consensus view arising from this discussion (as I remember it) could be summarized something like this. Great analysis of the problem but the authors Fergus Greene and Reuben Finucane (deliberately) avoided treatment of the political realities. No mechanism was described for getting from where we are now to where we have to be around 2020. The authors could hardly be blamed for this. As far as I know outside of the painfully slow IPCC driven progress towards a global treaty no-one has discovered a Plan B.

    Second; if global agreement is the only way to go then the IEA 2012 World Energy Outlook you refer to sets out the realities pretty well. To stabilize global temperature increase at around 2ºC (which we should not forget according to the scientists only gives us a 50/50 chance of avoiding runaway climate change) the last roll of the dice comes at around 2020 after which global GHG emissions must decline at a staggering 9% p. a. for three decades. This task is not widely thought to be achievable but who knows what can be achieved if we set our minds to it.

    However, the 9% annual reduction curve is an aggregate representing an agreed global effort. If the curve is disaggregated into three groups – roughly the first world, the BRICS countries and the rest, and the decarbonization task is shared equitably (surely the only basis for global agreement) the first world nations (including Oz) are supposed to peak now (that’s right this year) and fall to zero by 2025. This of course is impossible. You might conclude from this that our goose is already cooked (and I strongly suspect this is the case) but there exists still (just) a way out of this. If the first world purchases substantial GHG emissions permits from the other groups and the middle group purchases a lesser quantity of emission permits from the poorest group it is theoretically possible to save the day. This sounds like a global carbon market to me. Isn’t that what we just stepped out of? This is my rough and dirty summary of a report from the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). The WBGU report that this comes from concludes:

    “Courageous political action is now called for – either that or an honest declaration of surrender in the face of the size of the climate challenge and the years lost in the cause of climate protection since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro of 1992.”

    Anyone see any courageous political action on climate change?

    I won’t bang on further. Anyone who wants to see the graphs and read the whole story can do so here:

    I am sorry to be so consistently the bearer of grim tidings. I get no joy from this. But if we are going to discuss this issue and argue that we understand and accept the science we had better base the discussion on what the scientists and economists – those folk who actually know what they are talking about – are really saying even if it wakes us at 3am worrying, worrying. Perhaps being genuinely afraid of what is after all a terrifying prospect might just provoke the sort of urgent action needed to save the day.

  44. Peter Wade

    Hi Douglas I agree wholly with your summation, but the dilemma is just how much of ones personal accumulation given into the climate change battle is warranted. I’ve moved my super and installed 4kw of solar. I personally still have a lot to do to get to, firstly zero and then negative emissions ( as I am responsible for the 52 years of CO2 emissions I have already benefitted from) currently though I’m at a relative standstill .my only contribution being $6 a week to Corena. On a country by country basis you argue the morality of leadership, and the benefits of paving the way. Should that responsibility extend to individuals within that country? I say Yes

  45. Kaye Lee


    What we need is discussion on what we CAN do which you offer in that very informative comment – thank you. I agree we must raise the alarm but really, to all thinking people, that alarm is well and truly ringing albeit not loudly enough for some.

    I know I get cross about negativity but warning offered with suggestions is crucial and you are well-placed to help us. I cannot accept the “give up” mentality even though I know there will be irreversible damage. We must have a carbon market and your suggestion seems the obvious way to go. We must start somewhere and then ramp things up as others inevitably join in action.

    Peter, I agree we must all look to do what we can in our personal “spheres of influence.” I have a long way to go in that regard compared to you and your comment motivates me to get cracking to improve.

  46. Peter Wade

    Thank you Kaye. I act out of a lack of articulation and influence. Taking action is what I can do. I wish that I were of even average income, that I could do so much more.

    I dream that I am wealthy and can de grid my neighbours homes, and finance them into Ev’s. Proving it works and shouting down the economic naysayers before converting my whole street 1 house at a time. Then my suburb.

    That should take about 2 years, and if it can be done for one home one street and one suburb it can be done for an entire country quite easily within the forecast 2025 timeframe as described by Douglas.

    In the past I’ve made suggestions to GetUp that they look to enabling some similar direct action. I listen in dismay at the reports of massive funds raised for a one off cause of no lasting consequence.

    The time for all charitable organisations to act harmoniously and attend To climate change is here. The lives and ecosystems, the entire countries and legitimate govts that real action now will save will far outweigh any ongoing current stop gap finger in dyke efforts.

    Since 1992 government has proven it cannot fix the problem. People can, individuals can, groups of people can. We just need to focus . Let’s stop asking government to act. Let’s just get on with it.


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