Pro-Coal Australian Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) devalues Australian lives, threatens Biosphere and ignores Science

Pro-coal Australian Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) devalues Australian lives, threatens Biosphere and ignores Science


The World is facing a climate emergency requiring urgent action - as perceived by its top scientists but not yet by First World Establishment media, corporations and politicians. [1].


Thus the stark opinion of Professor Sir David King (former Chief Science Adviser of the UK Government and Head of the UK Government Office for Science, 2000-2007, currently Director of the Smith School Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and a senior scientific adviser to major global financial company UBS) is reported thus by Reuters (28 May 2008): “speaking at a climate change workshop hosted by Thomson Reuters in London [Professor King]  said Europe needed to reduce its annual per-capita emissions by 80 percent, or from 11 tonnes of CO2e, to India's current level of 2.2 tonnes per person by 2050”. [2].


Professor Sir David King: “If you (don't want) run-away climate change, you need to be at about 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 ... We're currently at 387 ppm CO2, going up at 2 per annum … If you include all greenhouse gases, we're at around 420 ppm CO2e …the challenge, to move from where we are now [Europe’s  11 tonnes of CO2e per person per year] to where the Indians are today [2.2], while growing the global economy at the same time”. [2].


 “Annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year” (2005-2008 data) is 2.2 (India), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge Exported CO2 pollution is included). [2-4].


Australia is the world’s leading coal exporter and a world leader in annual per capita GHG pollution. The pro-coal Rudd Labor Australian Federal Government has just announced its new revised Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) involving (a) a further delay in introduction until 2011; (b) massive subsidies for GHG polluters; (c) a target of “5-25% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020”;  and (d) an initial carbon price of A$10 per tonne. [5].


This Australian decision flies in the face of advice from top scientists such as Professor King in that it (a) ignores the urgency of action required; (b) provides massive subsidies for continued GHG pollution, (c) will only reduce Australia’s “annual  Domestic and Exported GHG pollution” from its present value of 54 to 44-49 tonnes per person per year by 2020 (using UN Population Division data) ; and (d)  ignores the circa 5,000 annual Australian deaths from coal burning pollutants that, at a valuation of A$10 million per person (US EPA) and an annual domestic use coal production of 156 million tonnes (2007; US EIA) yields an estimated “real” cost of coal burning of A$50 billion/156 million tonnes = A$321 per tonne. [4, 6-9].


The sine qua non in Australian public life is surely “loving Australia”,  which surely means (a) love for Australians, (b) love for Australia’s unique flora and fauna and (c) love of Australian values (most notably, being “fair dinkum” or “telling the truth”). The Australian Government’s ETS clearly violates these fundamental  injunctions by (a) devaluing Australia’s 5,000 annual coal death victim lives by a factor of over 30; (b)  committing Australia to effective “business as usual” GHG pollution that, if adopted globally,  will destroy Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (coral death above 450 ppm CO2; atmospheric CO2 currently 387 ppm and still rising at 2 ppm/year) and (c) blatantly ignoring top scientific opinion in the interests of major GHG polluters. [10].


Dr Gideon Polya

Macleod, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


[1]. Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, “Climate emergency: what top World scientific experts say “:  ; “Climate emergency: what outstanding Australian scientists say “: ; “Climate Emergency Facts and Required Actions “: .


[2] Michael Szabo, “Cut CO2 to India’s level, top scientist urges”, Reuters, 28 May 2008: .


[3] Wikipedia, “List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita”:  ; . Ross Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review, Chapter 7:  .


[4]. Gideon Polya, “Australia’s “5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020” endangers Australia, Humanity and the Biosphere”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, 2008: .


[5]. ABC News, “Polluter’s lobbying paid off, says Greenpeace”, 4 May, 2009: .


[6]. UN Population Division:  .  


[7]. Gideon Polya “Devaluation of American lives. 7 million Americans, $49 trillion lost under Bush”, MWC News, 16 July 2008: .


[8]. Gideon Polya, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group, “Pollution deaths from fossil fuel-burning  power plants”: ; “How many people die from carbon burning and climate change each year”:  .


[9]. US Energy Information Administration statistics: .


[10]. Professors O. Hoegh-Guldberg and P. J. Mumby and colleagues, “Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification”, Science 14 December 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5857, pp. 1737 – 1742:  .