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Last chance to save the future

WE ARE ALL currently transfixed by the second coming of Kevin Rudd. The action is frenetic. Can he stop the boats? Will he vanquish the faceless men? Might he deliver us from Abbott and his unscrupulous band of ruffians, after all? asks Douglas Evans.

We continue with Douglas’s guest post.

No-one’s talking about global warming. Apparently forgotten, the climate kettle continues to simmer and as the temperature rises the clock keeps ticking ominously.

In the run-up to the 2013 Federal election that will determine government for most of what remains of the Climate Commission Report, ‘critical decade‘, it’s timely to remind ourselves just what our political parties plan to do about the most overwhelming issue of our era and one that will profoundly affect us all.

What does climate change science say is necessary to save our future?

The only useful measure of the climate change policies of political parties is their likely climatic effectiveness. Do they offer a reasonable chance of stabilizing global temperatures at or about two degrees of warming? WILL THEY WORK? In its recent report, The Critical Decade, the Australian government’s Climate Commission very clearly described the emissions reduction task we face globally in the first half of this century consistent with this goal. The report shows that if we implement serious carbon emissions reductions policies soon and achieve a global emissions peak by about 2020, we can realistically meet the 1 trillion ton emissions budget by 2050.  However, in a scenario without serious carbon reduction policies in place, we’re looking at a potentially catastrophic warming of 4°C or more by 2100.

The Commission estimated that humanity can emit not more than 1 trillion tonnes of CO₂ between 2000 and 2050 to have a 75% probability of avoiding the danger limit. Currently, we are 25% of the way through the budgetary timeline, but we have burned through nearly 33% of the budget. We’re running out of wriggle room and need to act immediately. The longer we wait to take serious emissions reductions steps, the steeper the global carbon emissions cuts will have to be. If we wait too long, we will reach a point where the necessary annual emissions cuts are simply beyond our political and technological capabilities.  If global greenhouse gas emissions were stabilized by 2020 and thereafter reduced to zero by 2040 (a task that requires a stringent maximum rate of reduction of 9% per annum) there is a reasonable certainty that temperatures can be stabilized around two degrees of warming.

Is  ALP policy consistent with this goal?

The ALP’s climate change policies aim at a 5% reduction in pollution levels relative to 2000 levels by 2020 and an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas pollution levels relative to 2000 levels by 2050. While emissions 80% below 2000 levels by 2050 are not zero emissions by 2040, this might seem a reasonable approximation of what the science says is required apart from three important facts:

  1. Up to two-thirds of these emissions ‘reductions’ are intended to be purchased ‘offshore’ as ‘offsets’ to continued growth in Australian domestic emissions which are not expected to stabilize under these policies until 2035! Quite apart from the often discussed difficulties of validating such measures the science requires that the whole world needs to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions if the threshold of two degrees of warming is not to be exceeded. To claim the purchase of offshore offsets as emissions reduction for Australian industry is little more than an accountancy trick intended to deceive.

  2. The ALP policy is based on a notion of ‘clean energy’ that assumes widespread continued gas and ‘clean coal’ combustion. It is based on:

  • The almost certainly erroneous assumption that the use of gas as a power source for electricity generation is less greenhouse gas intensive than coal.
  • The certainly erroneous assumption that greenhouse gases generated by the combustion of fossil fuels in power plants can be economically captured and stored at sufficient scale, within a useful time frame.
  1. The claimed intentions of ALP climate policy are entirely swamped by support for the massive expansion of Australian fossil fuel exports which if they came to pass would see Australia double Saudi Arabia’s contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas by 2020 or soon thereafter. Under Labor’s fossil fuel export policies greenhouse gas emissions from Australia coal and gas exports will dwarf domestic emissions by a factor of three- or four-to-one.

A more thorough discussion of the ALP climate change and energy policies can be found here.

It is not unreasonable to describe ALP climate and energy policy as the most cost-effective path to runaway global warming by 2100.

Are the Direct Action Policies of the Coalition consistent with this goal?

As with the ALP this Coalition ‘policy’ embodies a (totally inadequate) commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by 20% relative to 2000 levels by 2020. It comprises:

  • An “Emissions Reduction Fund” of $3 billion to fund projects that would reduce carbon emissions, based on a tender process.
  • Support for projects such as “soil carbon technologies and abatement”.
  • A commitment to raise a 15,000 strong ‘Green Army’ of volunteers to clean up the environment. One of the tasks envisaged for this ‘Green Army is plantation tree planting as a means of carbon storage.

The abatement effect of the $3 billion Emissions reduction fund is unquantifiable but it is not unreasonable to compare it to the $5.5 billion ‘Contracts for Closure Fund’ that formed part of the ALP Clean Energy Futures legislation. This was intended to purchase reduction in greenhouse gas intensive, fossil fuel-fired, power generation capacity. It failed totally and had to be abandoned by the Gillard government.

The CSIRO’s review into soil carbon storage casts doubt over this assumption concluding that despite the theoretical potential of storage of carbon in agricultural soils research is currently inadequate to quantify this. Writing in Nature Climate Change, a group of seven Australian and UK climate researchers including Climate Commissioner Prof. Will Steffen, have gone further. They concluded that considering carbon storage on land as a means to ‘offset’ CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels is ‘scientifically flawed’. They conclude that:

‘Avoiding emissions from land carbon stocks and refilling depleted stocks reduces atmospheric CO2 concentration, but the maximum amount of this reduction is equivalent to only a small fraction of potential fossil fuel emissions.’ 

The Guardian reports research showing that for the DAP’s proposed tree planting to achieve the pledged return of an annual 85 million tonnes of CO2 captured, even using the most optimistic assumptions about growth and yield, would require a planted area more than twice the size of Melbourne. Under ‘real world’ conditions the area would be somewhat larger again increasing both the anticipated cost and management complexity of this massive undertaking.

The only likely explanation as to why the Coalition would propose such a useless climate change policy  (incredible as it seems) is that from the point of view of the opposition the policy is a non-answer to a non-existent problem. They recognize the POLITICAL necessity for a climate change policy but actually don’t believe it is happening!

As blogger Alex White points out:

“In addition to saying “climate change is crap“, in a more considered interview with the ABC’s Four Corners, Tony Abbott said:

‘I have pointed out in the past that there was that high year a few years ago and the warming, if you believe various measuring organisations, hasn’t increased … the point is not the science, the point is how should government respond, and we have a credible response.’

The most honest assessment of the Coalition’s climate policy, ironically, comes from Malcolm Turnbull. In 2009, then-backbencher Turnbull, recently defeated by Abbott in a leadership ballot wrote in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald that the policy was ‘bullshit’:

‘…the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion “climate change is crap” or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it’s cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to de-industrialise the world.

The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is ‘crap’ and you don’t need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental fig leaf to cover a determination to do nothing. After all, as Nick Minchin observed, in his view the majority of the Party Room do not believe in human caused global warming at all.’

A more thorough discussion of the Coalition’s climate change policy can be found here.

It is not unreasonable to describe the Direct Action Policy of the Liberal-National Coalition as a deliberate attempt to deceive Australian voters on the most important topic of our times.

Are the Climate Change and Energy Policies of the Australian Greens consistent with this goal?

The short answer is, despite a couple of possible omissions, yes they are! The Climate Change and Energy policies of the Australian Greens can be found here but I will raise a couple of points. On two pages the Greens set out fifteen principles and seventeen Aims in respect of climate change and energy policy. They are comprehensive and in line with the task the scientists say we are confronted with.

Some key points of difference with the policies of the ‘old’ parties include:

  • An emissions reduction target of ‘Net zero or net negative Australian greenhouse gas emissions within a generation’. Compare this with 80% below 2000 emissions levels by 2050.
  • ‘Binding national emission targets for each year through to 2050 supported by a detailed strategy to reduce emissions from the energy, transport, industry, waste, agriculture, and land management sectors.’ Compare this with the total absence of any recognition of the importance of structuring the rate and methods of emissions reduction from the other two parties.
  • ‘100% stationary electricity in Australia from renewable sources as soon as possible by increasing the renewable energy target (RET) and in addition measures such as feed-in tariffs and regulations to support a range of prospective new renewable energy technologies.’ The Coalition does not mention emissions reduction from stationary power generation. They hope we will believe that their $3 billion Emissions Reduction Fund will achieve something. The ALP bases their policy around the continued presence of fossil fuel-fired power plants and hopes we will believe that they can somehow deliver ‘clean’ energy.
  • ‘No new coal-fired power stations or coal mines, and no expansions to any existing power stations or mines’. Contrast this with whole-hearted support for the expansion of the sector from both the ‘old’ parties.
  • ‘The adoption of the precautionary principle in relation to carbon capture and storage (geosequestration) by opposing public funding, and ensuring that companies are financially responsible for the risks of CO2 leakage’. Contrast this with the completely unwarranted faith of the ALP in these technologies and the silence of the Coalition on this matter.

As with all the policies of the Greens, these ‘Principles’ and ‘Aims’ are brief and unlike the policies of the other two parties describe where we must go. They do not embody assumptions of what existing ‘stakeholders’ and their representatives may be prepared to accept. That is correctly deferred to the negotiation process that leads to legislation. They do not attempt to set out how we should get there. That is also correctly deferred to the negotiation process leading to legislation.

A more thorough discussion of these policies can be found here.

It is not unreasonable to describe the Greens’ Climate Change and Energy policies as the only policies by an Australian political party that rationally respond to the severity and interlocked complexity of the climate crisis we confront. This is the only policy response currently on offer to Australian voters that truly gives hope that this problem might be overcome.

The Climate Institute, somewhat ironically funded by a philanthropic fund bankrolled by Rupert Murdoch’s niece, Eve Kantor and her husband Mark Wootton, rated the seriously inadequate Labor Clean Energy package as two and a half stars out of a possible five. There seems something wrong with a methodology that gives a bare pass mark to climate policies that guarantee runaway climate change but nevertheless that is what it finds. Using the same methodology it rates the Liberal Party’s Direct Action Plan one lonely star out of a possible five. Using the same methodology it rates the Greens policies as five out of a possible five. You can download the Climate Institute’s comparative analysis if you want to look further into the issues.  The rank ordering could not be clearer. The Greens followed by Labor followed by the dismal deceptive, disingenuous Coalition effort.

Now, as I have written elsewhere. It seems to me that we either use the limited power of our vote to push for an increased tightening of climate policies or we are complicit in wrecking our future. I can’t find any other way to put it. No point blaming Gina Rinehart and Andrew Bolt et al if we are not prepared to do anything ourselves. How bad must things get before those who see the problem begin to demand effective action from our elected leaders? Now the 7 September election presents all Australians with a chance to demand better from our elected leaders. For the time being, whatever our political persuasion, we must all be single-issue voters.

The voting options that I see are these:

  1. If you are a Coalition voter and seriously concerned about climate change you face a difficult choice. This article reveals their fraudulent, deliberate attempt to mislead voters. You either swallow your concerns about your future and that of your children and grandchildren, voting again as you have always done. Or you look around for the most effective policy. You won’t be happy when you find where it is.
  2. If you are a Labor voter and seriously concerned about climate change your choice is fairly simple I would say. If you accept the assessments I have made, you wish to continue to support the Labor Party but wish to send them a message that they need to lift their game, you should vote Green with Labor second. You can comfortably do this in the knowledge that in all House of Representatives seats, with one possible exception, your vote will end up supporting Labor. The message will have been sent and noted.
  3. If you are a Green voter concerned about climate change, you vote for your party in the knowledge that they are advocating for the strongest policies.

So now it’s up to all of us to do our little bit to save the future for our kids. Remember, this is the critical decade and by the time you get another vote the chance may well have vanished forever.

25 comments

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  1. johnlord2013

    Enjoyed reading that.

  2. PeteyT

    It isn’t forgotten Michael…it is the key issue of the election since Abbott is backed by Murdoch AKA Heartland Institute and its corporate backers Exxon Mobil, Shell, Rio Tinto. They want to continue making profits while the rest of us adapt. Why is the FIRST thing they are going to do if elected undoing all the renewable energy schemes? The FIRST!

  3. Kaye Lee

    I agree it is the most important issue. I know many people, me included, are angry about the Labor policy on asylum seekers and the early move to an ETS, amongst other things, where they feel that Labor have engaged in the game of politics rather than the responsibility of making the right decision for the future.

    I deplore the fact that image and spin have become more important that principle and achievement. The treatment of Julia Gillard underlines this. Her only crime was a failure to “sell the message”, and a declining popularity in the polls.

    The Greens no doubt best represent my ideals but, as I have said before, ideals must work with pragmatism. We MUST have a government that listens to the Greens and works with them towards achieving what is practicable.

    The one thing we CANNOT afford is inaction. Short term profit is too high a price to pay for the devastation of irreversible climate change.

    We CANNOT vote for the man who thinks climate change is “crap” and whose boss, Gina Rinehart, gets her expert advice from nutters like “Lord” Monckton.

  4. Douglas Evans

    Hi Kaye
    I’m guessing you haven’t read the extended discussion of the ALP climate and energy policies that this piece is linked to. Unless you can explain why the three important flaws in the ALP position listed above (and for that matter the several others listed in the extended piece on the Greens’ policies) are not in fact flaws, there is only one logical, rational conclusion to be drawn. This that the combination of the ALP climate and energy policies is a cost effective but sure path to runaway global warming by shortly after mid century.

    In the 2013 Update of the Climate Commission’s Critical Decade Report authors Professors Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes wrote:

    “One quarter of the way through the Critical Decade, many consequences of climate change are already evident, and the risks of further climate change are better understood. It is clear that global society must virtually decarbonise in the next 30-35 years. This means that most of the fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.”

    ALP policy gets us nowhere near to that goal.

    There is no use bemoaning the Greens’ supposed lack of ‘pragmatism’, they have the only policy option that gives us a chance in hell of successfully combating the climate threat. No ifs, no buts, no wriggle room, no chance of negotiation, no time for delay. I am confident enough after six years of involvement to say outright these are the facts. This is quite possibly the last chance for voters to register their concern at the ballot box before it is too bloody late to make a difference. We either acknowledge the facts and vote accordingly or we are complicit in wrecking our future. A vote for either of the major parties at this election effectively signifies either that the voter doesn’t believe climate change is happening (LNP) or that it is possible to be a little bit complicit (like being a little bit pregnant really), that inadequate action is somehow better than no action (ALP). This would be foolishness that we will come to bitterly regret.

    So now it’s up to us. On September 7 we will cast our votes. There are a myriad of possible objections to the path mapped out by the Greens.’Too expensive, too impractical, too idealistic’ etc – all of which are actually just expressions of nervousness at the possibility of change. To everyone who defaults to one or more of these positions (plenty on this site) I say simply that the evidence is overwhelming that we have no choice. Change is coming and soon. We can either attempt to control the characteristics of this process or surrender to the forces we have set in motion and hope we can survive as a species. When we cast our votes we must remember this.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Doug you just did what I find most Greens voters do. You assumed I have not read up on this – an assumption that is entirely incorrect. You assume that I dismiss the evidence – I don’t. You suggest that a vote for Labor makes me complicit in inaction on climate change – I disagree vehemently.

    It always gets back to the FACT that one of the two major parties will form government. One of them I feel can be reasoned with, the other can’t. One introduced carbon pricing, the other will abolish it.

    I share the ideals and I do what I can to help spread the word and demand action. To dismiss me as you just did is what I find the greatest failing of Greens. You HAVE to be able to negotiate and compromise and work with people towards a goal. You CAN’T just say I want this and I am going to hold my breath until I get it.

    I FULLY understand the danger we face and I will continue to fight for what we all agree is the most urgent priority for us all.

  6. Kaye Lee

    Having said that Doug, this is an outstanding article that I will be sharing widely and thank you and Michael for putting it together.

  7. Bruce

    I loved reading that article as I have voted green in the last 2 elections and of course will do the same this time. As suggested I give my second choice to labor. I am 79 years of age and have never voted for a conservative party in any of the 3 countries I have lived in. My dad told me when I was in my teens that a conservative government
    would Never Ever act in the best interest of working class people. I observed a few elections, and found that what he had told me was 100% correct.
    I have always wondered to this day why so many working class people cannot see this simple fact.

  8. Michael Taylor

    Thanks Kaye, but all thanks should go to Douglas. 🙂

  9. Douglas Evans

    Kaye
    No desire to fight with you. Respect the contribution you make on many articles posted here. However you have made several comments that I can’t just let ‘through to the keeper’.

    You write:
    “You suggest that a vote for Labor makes me complicit in inaction on climate change – I disagree vehemently.”
    Kaye unless you are able to refute the criticisms I have made of ALP Climate and Energy policy it is unarguable that a vote for the ALP in this election endorses policies consistent with (on recent credible estimates) four degrees of warming before the end of the century, perhaps as early as 2060. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8279654.stm

    and four degrees of warming means uncontrollable climate change.

    As David Spratt, co-author of award winning book Climate Code Red, recently wrote for the Giles Parkinson’s clean energy and climate change newsletter ‘Renew Economy’:

    “…neither Labor nor the LNP by their behaviour indicate any significant understanding of the policy consequences of the carbon budget approach which the government’s own Climate Commission advocates, nor any grasp of what needs to be done in this ‘critical decade’.”

    The problem with ALP policy that affects climate change stems from two sources. The first was evident as long ago as 2008 when as one newspaper editorial observed accurately:

    ‘…Each time the Government announces a major policy decision on energy and climate policy it has managed to convey the impression that a politically convenient compromise has been preferred to policy that might actually encourage fundamental changes in energy use.’ [Age editorial 19/12/08]

    Nothing has changed in five years. This is the ‘pragmatism’ that is so convincing to so many and which has been a propaganda (and I use the word advisedly) tool that the ALP and the LNP have deployed to devastating effect against the Greens. This approach of a bit for the voters, a bit for the scientists and a (somewhat larger) bit for the powerful lobbies of existing industry (which bankroll elections) has resulted in the ludicrously inadequate emissions reduction targets that the ALP is signed up to and the fraudulent claims that these will be met through the purchase of off-shore permits. Despite pressure from the Greens and independents in the multi-party negotiation that led to the Clean Energy legislation they were only able to slightly modify ALP position on off shore permits.

    The second source of the profound inadequacy of ALP policy in this area is rooted in the internal division of the Party between those who promote socially progressive policy and those who promote social conservatism and the interests of big industry. For many years (since the 1980s) the latter group have been dominant. However the circumstances of the hung Parliament and the negotiating skills of the cross benchers Bandt, Windsor and Oakeshott temporarily resulted in a power balance that enabled the Clean Energy legislation package of the Gillard government and ensured that it was at least mildly useful. This was no more than an aberration in the natural order of the Party of the Fair go.

    If you think this is too tough remember Energy Minister Martin Ferguson. While all attention was on the Clean Energy legislation he quietly slipped through an Energy White Paper profoundly favorable to mining and fossil fuel generation industries that is still reflected in Party Energy policy. You can read about his White Paper here. http://duggyvans.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/empire-strikes-back.html

    The implications for climate change of Ferguson’s White paper and the subsequent policy position of the Party are enormous and utterly overwhelm any benefit that might accrue from the Clean Energy legislation. Not only does the ALP support the unfettered expansion of the fossil fuel mining and export industry it bases its entire energy policy on the twin fictions of clean Gas and CCS.

    Kaye you write:

    “You HAVE to be able to negotiate and compromise and work with people towards a goal. You CAN’T just say I want this and I am going to hold my breath until I get it.”

    How on earth do you think the Gillard government would have managed to pass all the legislation they did if the Greens were unwilling to compromise or negotiate? When you say that you are simply repeating a favorite mantra of disappointed Labor politicians in search of product differentiation that have been uncritically passed on via the MSM. Think about it. Where is the evidence that the Greens will not negotiate or compromise? Don’t bother to mention the bloody CPRS or asylum seekers these are surely long ago dealt with. Where is the EVIDENCE for what you assert Kaye?

    Kaye you write:
    “You assume that I dismiss the evidence – I don’t.” Well here is some ‘evidence’ of the utter inadequacy of ALP climate change related policy what are you going to do about it? As you say either LNP or Labor will form government. LNP policy is a tissue of lies and Labor policy has at least some benefits but Labor policy is consistent with climate armageddon a little after mid century when my grand children will be middle aged to elderly. On their behalf I take this a bit personally. This is either the last or (if we are very fortunate) second last chance to register our concern via our vote before it is too late. This is the Critical Decade and it is already one third gone. We have it in our power to use our vote to send a message to the politicians that we expect them to ACT on this matter.

    Any supporter of either of the major parties has it in their power to send this message while still supporting the election outcome they desire. You simply vote Green first in the House of Representatives and the party you wish to form government second. Your vote will end up with the Party you wish to support and the message will have been sent. Believe me after years engaging in rational discussion with politicians the ONLY argument they hear from constituents is a credible threat of removal of the vote or actions that threaten to reduce their vote. Here is a chance, small as it may be, to register your dissatisfaction. It costs no effort at all. Is that really too much to ask to save our bacon?

  10. Kaye Lee

    Doug I do not dispute in any way the overwhelming evidence of climate change or the necessity of urgent action, but if I have to agree with every single facet of a party’s policies to vote for them then I would never vote. I don’t agree with my husband on all things but I still chose to marry him and we work together towards a common goal.

    I recognise the wonderful legislation passed by this hung Parliament and acknowledge the role the Greens and Independents had to play in achieving that.

    My question to you is, what happens if the Coalition gets the majority in both houses?

  11. Kaye Lee

    I guess what I am saying is, my FIRST goal is to keep Tony Abbott out of the Lodge. Then we can campaign strongly to insist that the government takes the action we all know it must.

  12. Kaye Lee

    It’s great to FINALLY see some commentary on climate change and scrutiny of policies in the media. Yesterday we had the article about how the CEFC is paying for itself and that scrapping it wouldn’t save money. Today we have an article showing how the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan would in fact lead to a 9% increase in emissions unless they commit a lot more money to buying carbon credits from overseas.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/14/funding-gap-abbott-climate-plan

  13. Douglas Evans

    Kaye you may feel you are working with the Labor Party towards the goal of effective climate policy but the simple fact is that they are taking climate and energy policy to this election that if it were reflected globally absolutely GUARANTEES runaway climate change in the latter part of the century. I trust that when you disagree with your husband you have a voice that is heard and plays its part in deciding an agreed course of action. Rest assured that even if you are a member of the ALP you do not have any influence over that party’s policy settings.

    See what Norman Abjorensen says about the ALP internal structure:

    “The rapidly declining relevance of its shrinking membership and the capture of its factions – and with them the party machinery – have seen Labor become little more than the plaything of unrepresentative cliques. Poor-quality candidate selection and scant attention to policy are the inevitable outcomes, not to mention the corrosive effect of even greater public cynicism and further disengagement.”

    The now shelved, and largely ignored, 2010 Review of the ALP internal processes and structure conducted by respected ALP elders Steve Bracks, Bob Carr and John Faulkner supports Abjorensen’s view of the party. Its assessment of the disillusionment of the rank and file members was that it is deep and widespread.

    Here’s what the members had to say to the review panel:

    “As a party member for nearly 39 years it seems that branches are now treated as irrelevant by head office — only good for handing out on election days.” — Member, Sydney

    “A branch member no longer has any power and hasn’t for a long time.” — Member, Melbourne

    “Many branches feel very frustrated and ignored these days.” — Member, Adelaide

    “At the moment, the party branches are dying, because the rank and file are given no voice in the Party. The members and branches no longer have any say in preselections or in policy. Unless this trend can be reversed, we will become a party that exists just to provide a path for ex-trade union leaders and ex-staffers of politicians to enter parliament.” — Member, NSW

    “The [issue is the] rise of the central Party apparatus and the decline of the branches. If the resolutions of branches are ignored, if the rules of the Party are ignored, if pre-selections are determined by head office and not the relevant electoral councils, if we remove democracy as the beating heart of our Party why would people join a branch, why would people get involved in our Party, why would people vote for us?” — Member, NSW

    “The demand that branches be respected meant that a branch’s local knowledge and concerns should be taken seriously. There was a sense that the party leadership did not take seriously or wish to involve itself with a branch’s participation in issues and policies that profoundly affected its members and its local community. Branches, it was argued, could be at the forefront of pivotal community battles.” — Branch submission

    “The grassroots organisation of the ALP used to be something that we left the Liberals for dead in.” — Member, Cairns

    “Members have given up. They feel that their only function is to turn up on polling day and spend a day in the sun handing out how-to-vote cards. Members want to be involved at a local level at a bare minimum.” — Member, Queensland.

    Now Kaye exactly how do you intend influencing this organization to change its climate and energy policy settings from useless to useful on any time frame that will make a difference?

    You write:
    “My question to you is, what happens if the Coalition gets the majority in both houses?”
    If the coalition gets a majority in both houses we are all in deep, deep trouble. Fortunately this is not so likely and if voters put the large party of their choice second on the Lower House ballot paper their vote will end up supporting that party anyway so that has no influence over whether the LNP get a majority in both houses. You’ll be relieved to hear that Antony Green thinks a double majority for the coalition is highly unlikely. http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2011/09/can-the-coalition-win-control-of-the-senate-through-a-half-senate-election.html

    Nothing of what I have said here should have any impact on whether or not Abbott becomes PM. anyone who wants to can vote against him and still let the ALP know they need to lift their game.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Douglas I am not a member of ANY political Party nor do I let ANY political party, or person for that matter, tell me what to think.

    I listen to others, I read and I experience what I can. You are telling me I cannot make a difference unless I do as you tell me to. Yours is not the only way Douglas. You keep trying to convince me of something that I already agree with – we need urgent action on climate change. I KNOW!!!!!!

    I am voting to keep the CEFC going to fund “green” technology, to keep the Climate Change Authority and the Climate Commission to advise on the science of climate change, to keep a price on carbon and to provide industry assistance to help move towards better practice and emission reductions. I am voting to keep a Renewable Energy Target.

    I am confident that the overwhelming evidence and growing voice around the world will force governments to move more swiftly than they already are and to speed up emission reduction targets. You and I are already part of that voice.

    For ANY of this to happen we have to keep Tony Abbott out of the Lodge. Your idea of everyone voting for the Greens first would only appeal to some left wing voters so you would have the usual Green supporters plus a lot of Labor supporters – a strategy which could backfire and hand Tony Abbott the keys.

  15. Kaye Lee

    It’s not that “direct action” can’t work to reduce carbon emissions. It’s that the Coalition’s Direct Action plan – cobbled together in a couple months after Tony Abbott took the Liberal leadership and ditched the Coalition’s support for emissions trading – can’t work for the money that’s on the table.

    And almost no one thinks it can. Not the business groups that have for years now been unsuccessfully seeking detail. Not academic experts who have studied the various sources of carbon abatement it proposes. And not anyone who has sought to model it.

    The Coalition has responded to the latest effort – from Sinclair Knight Merz/MMA and Monash University’s Centre of Policy Studies – by shooting the messenger, suggesting the modellers and the Climate Institute who commissioned them are not “objective”.

    But exactly the same question has been raised by pretty much everyone who has looked at Direct Action. The Treasury actually calculated the shortfall would be much bigger than the $4bn the new modelling has estimated by 2020.

    If the Coalition won’t explain the detail of its policy before the election, as any political party should, will it at least promise to commission its own modelling when it fleshes out the Direct Action plan after the poll?

    Surely – in the interests of budget certainty as well as the climate – it would be smarter to know straight away rather than waiting to see whether everyone has been right all along when the policy fails to meet Australia’s targets and the government comes under pressure to stump up billions more in federal money?

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/15/tony-abbott-climate-plan-maths

  16. Bob Evans

    I dont think I have seen a Liberal explain their direct action plan yet.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1imqWLjIvY

    And there is this cognitive dissonance that they wrestle with. On one hand, they believe it’s crap. On the other hand, they have a policy, which they don’t understand, is not a market based mechanism and is really a token gesture to try and attract the dim witted out there that think they are getting action on climate change.

  17. Douglas Evans

    Kaye Lee and Bob Evans
    I think it is a mistake to expect politicians, particularly those of the right to think and behave like ordinary rational moderately ethical human beings. This is unrealistic. The LNPs strategy of not engaging with, but simply denying the validity of, any criticism leveled against then has worked a treat so far. Look at the polls. Why would anyone expect Greg Hunt to behave any differently from Abbott when faced with informed criticism of policy. No good bemoaning the lack of costings, logic or social justice underpinning their position. They don’t care. Why would they bother giving details and explaining themselves? This can only make trouble. They can get away with not caring because the people who they think will elect them don’t care either. The only thing that these voters care about is that Labor must not under any circumstance get another term. They simply can’t stand the thought that the six o’clock news will daily force them to think about politics for another three years as it has done for the last three. They hate politics and politicians and yearn to be able to forget about it all again the day after the election until the day before the next election as they have always been able to do in the past. The Direct Action Plan was never intended to work and is never intended to be implemented. None of what they say on climate change should be connected to any assumption of post election action. This is all about winning power. When that is done they will settle on the best way to repay their backers for that is what they are being funded to do. We know that. The behavior of the LNP in this regard is completely predictable and we know that a vote for the LNP in this election is a vote for runaway climate change around mid century. See this for the latest bad climate news if you haven’t already seen it. http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/revealed-80cm-sea-rise-warning-20130819-2s7dt.html

    On the other hand as the article above has hopefully demonstrated voting for the ALP at this election is equally a vote for policies guaranteeing runaway climate change around mid century. The packaging is different but the contents are identical. The ALP wants us to believe that it is confronting the problem, indeed there may even be some in the Party who BELIEVE they are doing so. The LNP doesn’t care whether we believe them or not they have no intention of acting on what they (incredibly) see as a non existent problem. More fool them!

    Now I didn’t make up the facts I set out in the article. There are others much smarter than I that have reached similar conclusions. Both parties are taking policies to this election that will see us all off the cliff in freefall towards climate chaos before mid century. Outside of the vote we cast every few years our chances for resistance are frighteningly few. This I know I’ve had years of demonstrating, picketing, marching, writing letters to the editor, blogging and working for and against politicians on the basis of their party’s position on climate. On the basis of this experience I’m convinced that:

    a. politicians won’t move until the voters force it because their funding masters won’t accept action.

    b. the voters won’t do anything until it is too late because they want leadership, someone to say ‘this is what we must do’ and actually do it. Thus we have a sort of Mexican stand-off and nothing is happening. It is this that has persuaded me that there is no likelihood of success and that I should devote the last decade or two of my life to other matters. I’m 66 now.

    As I’ve said before, accepting the logic of this presents the voter with an ethical dilemma. To my mind we either resist or we are complicit in our own fate. I have resisted as hard as I have been able now for years and am convinced that the battle is lost. No other way to put it I’m afraid. Too many Australians hiding their concern behind convenient myths. ‘Its not really happening’. ‘It’s all a socialist plot’. ‘The LNP are deniers but Labor is acting’ – fairy stories one and all.

    Now we all have one last chance to register our opposition to what is happening to us before the chance is gone forever. There will be plenty of frantic action after it is too late but just before the window is shut on us all we have this one tiny little opportunity to say NOT IN MY NAME. I wonder if anyone will seize it.

  18. Kaye Lee

    The Coalition’s climate change policy: it’s the public, not polluters, who pay

    The shortcomings of the Direct Action Plan are striking. If the Coalition is serious about tackling climate change, then it must offer voters a credible alternative to the carbon price

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/20/coalition-climate-change-direct-action

    Doug I am on your side but I am not as pessimistic as you. I understand the danger. The voices are rising…don’t despair.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEzt1B2Oo9A

  19. Douglas Evans

    Kaye
    I should know better but I can’t help myself. Whatever your justification if you are going to wave through Labor’s climate and energy policies in this election by voting Labor 1 in the rep’s despite what you say I’m afraid you do NOT understand the danger at all. You do not even begin to understand.

    Cornlegend, bless his heart, replied to my message on another stream by listing the achievements of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government and concluded with ‘Abbott must be stopped. Now is not the time to mess around with minor Parties’ as though anything that I had advocated strengthens the hand of the LNP. Apparently logic is deserting the left and not all cognitive dissonance is to be found on the right. My pessimism is based on my observations during six years of active engagement and is shared by many who have been close to this struggle. What is you optimism based on? I repeat – ‘fairy stories’ Kaye ‘fairy stories’. Labor cannot save itself and their climate and energy policies will not save our future. I’ll repeat for you what I said to Cornlegend on the other thread.

    ‘If the little gesture I advocate is too much for the remnant educated left leaning types that hang out here (as I fully expect) then my judgement in hanging up my activist boots to do other things for the last couple of decades of my life seems to me to be absolutely correct. The climate battle is lost.’

  20. Douglas Evans

    Oh and no number of sensible rational Guardian articles will make the slightest difference – are they the voices you are referring to?. Who do you think reads the Guardian? Neither does Judy Small singing protest songs. That was a different world. It seems we both remember it but it’s gone. PJ Harvey has the mood of the times.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tFBo1QunlA&w=560&h=315]

  21. cornlegend

    Douglas Evans
    Doug,
    I enjoy your articles, here and on other sites.
    You probably would be surprised how much we do actually agree on
    And as I have said to you on other sites, it is my opinion that the choice is of 2.
    I differ with you on this election
    There is too much to lose.
    I respect your opinion but.
    Either Labor or LNP will Govern after 7th Sept.
    Now is not the time to start being “tricky” with preferences.
    I would love to, and throw a vote to Wikileaks in the Senate}
    But this election, to me, is not the time
    All my waking time between now and the election is to keep Abbott and the LNP away from the Lodge.
    The only way of me hoping for that is to Support Labor.

  22. cornlegend

    Douglas Evans
    Doug, you said
    “Cornlegend, bless his heart”
    I don’t think he would mate.
    I’m an atheist 😀

    thanks for your concern though 🙂

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