Gideon Polya, “Australian Coal & Denial Dooms Planet. Oz Greenhouse Pollution to DOUBLE by 2050”, MWC News, 27 July 2008.
[January 2010 note: this article on Media With Conscience entitled “Australian Coal & Denial Dooms Planet. Oz Greenhouse Pollution to Double by 2050” (see: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/24189/26/ ) has stirred Australia’s most outspoken conservative and climate sceptic Andrew Bolt (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Bolt ) who writes for Australia’s top circulation newspaper, the Melbourne Herald-Sun (a Murdoch Empire News Limited newspaper): http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/actually_the_nazis_would_have_approved . His Herald-Sun blog under the title “Actually, the Nazis would have approved” refers to “Media (without a) Conscience” and “That tramping sound I hear: it’s the Greenshirts, isn’t it? “.Among 87 often very abusive comments on the thread (to date) there was one positive and very supportive comment, from “JC2” in London, who very kindly says: “I like Media With Conscience. Especially that Gideon Polya. What a strong man he is. Awesome.”]
Australian Coal & Denial Dooms Planet. Oz Greenhouse Pollution to DOUBLE by 2050
The Federal Australian Rudd Labor Government was given a massive electoral victory in November 2007 and one of the key election issues was man-made global warming. The first act of the new Rudd Labor Government was to sign the Kyoto Protocol, ending a decade of intransigence in which Australia, together with the US, refused to sign. The US remains a major stand-out non-signatory of the Kyoto Protocol.
Unfortunately, signing the Kyoto Protocol was one of the very few acts of the Rudd Labor Government that has matched its climate change rhetoric. Australia remains the the World’s biggest coal exporter and the Developed World’s worst annual per capita greenhouse gas polluter (Australia’s annual per capita CO2 pollution - 27 tonnes CO2 per person per year domestically but 47 tonnes CO2 per person per year including CO2 from coal exports – is 10 times worse than for China and the World and 40 times worse than for India). Indeed Australia helped the US sabotage the December 2007 Bali Climate Change Conference by firmly rejecting any greenhouse gas reduction targets and the latest estimate is that Australia will actually DOUBLE its annual greenhouse gas pollution by 2050.
The extraordinary thing about this continuing Australian climate criminality is that it is associated with massive Mainstream media and political lying by omission. The major parties in Australia are Labor (that rules all the States as well as ruling Federally) and the Liberal-National Party Coalition Opposition (the Coalition). A minority, humanitarian and pro-environment Australian Greens Party (about 10% of the vote) is important in holding the balance of power in the Australian Senate, the Upper House in the Australian Federal Parliament that involves the Lower House or House of Representatives (members from electorates around the country) and the Senate (a States-based House of Review).
Coal is king in climate criminal Australia and both major parties – collectively known as the Lib-Labs - steadfastly refuse to acknowledge major greenhouse gas pollution realities.
The election promises of Labor in 2007 were “20% renewable energy by 2020” and “60% reduction of 2000 greenhouse gas pollution by 2050”. However to numerate observers it was apparent back in 2007 that this would in actuality mean a huge INCREASE in Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution if you took the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from Australia’s world-leading coal exports into account. The endlessly dishonest Mainstream media and Lib-Lab politicians get around this arithmetic difficulty by simply IGNORING Australia’s World-leading coal exports – just as they IGNORE the human cost of coal burning in Australia (about 5,000 avoidable deaths annually), Indigenous Australian excess mortality (about 9,000 avoidable deaths annually) and Indigenous Occupied Iraqi and Afghan deaths (about 0.5 million avoidable deaths annually).
The standard response to “problems” in the Anglo-Celtic Murdochracies is to “set up a committee of inquiry”, a course which has 2 desirable outcomes for the Establishment: (a) it delays any requisite action and (b) the inquiry has tight terms of reference which impel it toward Establishment policy.
Having signed Kyoto but sabotaged Bali, the Rudd Labor Government declared that it could not act responsibly until it had heard from the Garnaut Climate Change Review. The extremely deficient, seriously flawed Garnaut Review delivered its pro-Coal Draft Report in July 2008 (for a critique of the Garnaut Review see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/critical-scientific-review-of-badly-flawed-australian-garnaut-climate-change-review ). The Garnaut Review was predicated by a minimum atmospheric CO2 target (450 ppm i.e. 450 parts per million, above which world coral - associated with economic activity $375 billion income annually - is doomed); IGNORED a dozen major realities (from the “true cost” of coal to the latest in renewable technologies); and proposed a market-based “Cap and Trade” Emissions Trading Scheme” (ETS) while conceding that global warming was the greatest market failure in history.
A “Cap and Trade” Emissions Trading Scheme” (ETS) typically involves (a) setting a “cap” on emissions (that is related to a maximum permissible atmospheric CO2 concentration target); (b) selling greenhouse gas pollution licences (that can thence be traded in the market); and (c) using the licence fees to ameliorate greenhouse gas pollution (e.g. via renewable energy plants, re-afforestation, returning carbon to the soil as biochar etc).
Unfortunately, Australia – the Land of Flies, Lies and Slies (spin-based untruths) – lives up to its name of Downunder and turns truth and reason upside-down by (a) setting a “cap” at atmospheric CO2 concentrations of 450-550 ppm (ranging from the death of coral above 450 ppm and the destruction of ocean algae and the Greenland Ice sheet above 500 ppm to planetary devastation at 550 pm); (b) proposing an ETS that IGNORES two thirds of the sources of Australia-responsible greenhouse gas pollution; and (c) giving 90% of the licence fee money back to the worst polluters and “dirty energy” consumers with effectively NONE being spent on actually lowering atmospheric CO2 concentration.
Remarkably ONLY 2 WEEKS after the release of the seriously flawed, pro-coal Garnaut Climate Change Review (4 July, 2008: ), the Australian Federal Government released a “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Green Paper” (16 July, 2008) (for a detailed scientific critique of the Australia Government’s Green Paper see: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/australian-carbon-pollution-reduction-scheme-will-increase-carbon-pollution ).
Unfortunately, the Australian Federal Government Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Green Paper is FATALLY FLAWED and if adopted globally it would be a DEATH SENTENCE for the planet’s biosphere. In an extraordinary Orwellian twist, this Bush-ite Australian “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme” actually means that Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution will DOUBLE by 2050.
In short, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme:
(a) massively IGNORES leading scientific and economic advice on the urgent need stop greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution and indeed to REDUCE atmospheric CO2 from 387 ppm to a safe level of no more than 350 ppm;
(b) IGNORES two thirds of Australia-responsible greenhouse gas emission sources, notably coal exports (43% of the total Domestic plus Exported emissions), agriculture (9%), forestry and land use (4%) and (effectively) transport (8%);
(c ) IGNORES the realities that the “true cost” of coal burning-based power generation (taking the environmental and human impacts into account) is about 4-5 times the “market cost” and that coal burning kills about 5,000 Australians every year at a risk avoidance-based valuation (EU) of $5 million per person x 5,000 persons = $25 billion per year;
(d) IGNORES the horrendous realities that Australia’s annual per capita CO2 pollution (27 tonnes CO2 per person per year domestically but 47 tonnes CO2 per person per year including CO2 from coal exports) is 10 times worse than that of China and the World and 40 times worse than that of India;
(e) adopts a “cap and trade” Emissions Trading Scheme with an atmospheric CO2 concentration “cap” above 450 ppm (450-500 ppm will kill world coral reefs including the Great Barrier Reef) and ranging up to 550 ppm (at which level ocean algae have died, ocean life is decimated and the planet is devastated with run-away global warming);
(f) hands nearly all of the collected pollution licence fees back to polluters, “dirty energy” users and the poor - rather than using it to urgently construct clean energy power stations using current technologies that can ALREADY provide power at a cost LOWER than the “true cost” of coal-based electricity (taking environmental and human costs into account).
Fundamentally, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) FAILS because it will actually INCREASE Carbon Pollution in both the short-term and the long-term. The expected impact of the “tax-pollution-and-return-taxes-to-polluters-and-consumers” CPRS on domestic pollution will be small compared to the effect of currently huge global fossil fuel price increases because the CPRS taxes only ONE THIRD of emissions sources (at a once-off circa 17% level vastly lower than the continuing 1999-2008 world 5-8-fold fossil fuel price escalation) and then hands nearly all of the taxes back as subsidies. In contrast, Australia’s world -leading coal exports (43% of Australia’s 2006 Total Domestic and Exported GHG emissions of about 1,000 million tonnes CO2-e) are expected to increase massively in the short-term due to new coal-exporting infrastructure in Queensland and New South Wales.
Using US Energy Information Administration data (see: http://www.eia.doe.gov/ ), and ignoring huge new Australian coal export infrastructure developments, Australia’s total Domestic and Exported CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning in millions of tonnes (Mt) are expected to climb from 698 Mt (2000) and 910 Mt (2007) to 1,277 Mt (2020, no mitigation) or 1,165 Mt (2020, based on “20% renewable by 2020”; an INCREASE of 67% over 2000) and thence to 1,371 Mt (2050, based on “60% reduction of 2000 Domestic pollution by 2050”; an INCREASE of 96% over 2000 CO2 pollution ).
There is essentially bi-partisan agreement among the Australian Lib-Labs on the Rudd Labor Government “Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme” – indeed the Libs have already declared that the Scheme is too radical and should not be adopted until the rest of the world (notably China and India) commit to greenhouse gas reduction targets. Only the Greens have publicly slammed the extraordinary dishonesty and ineffectiveness of this spin-based Scheme to keep coal exports flowing with “business as usual”.
The World must force Australia – the World’s worst greenhouse gas polluter and the World’s biggest coal exporter – to reduce its World-leading and World-threatening carbon pollution. The only sensible course for a World threatened by global warming is to RAPIDLY force climate criminal Australia to a world average per capita greenhouse pollution level by Sanctions, Boycotts, Green Tariffs, Reparation Demands and legal action over Australian Climate Genocide at the International Criminal Court (see: http://climateemergency.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html ).