26 January 2010
In the wake of the Copenhagen anti-climax there's been a political vacuum in climate change politics.
The expectations were enormous at the UN summit and the talks collapsed into rhetorical justifications by Kevin Rudd, Barack Obama and other world leaders as China and India flexed their muscles.
At home last week, the Greens tried to step in and fill that vacuum and reassert themselves in what is a bedrock issue for them.
Throughout the debate on an ETS in Australia the Greens marginalised themselves by asking for too much. They could and should have made themselves more relevant by adopting realistic targets and demands. The Government's maximum target of 25% cuts in carbon emissions by 2020 was the Greens minimum.
To start this election year the minor party's leader Bob Brown announced a compromise plan, a flat $20 a tonne carbon price for two years until a longer term solution can be achieved. It would get the ball rolling in terms of setting a market signal and give the politics of the issue some breathing space. It was an idea first proposed by the Government's own climate adviser Ross Garnaut in his original report.
Whether or not the Government can go that far in adopting a flat carbon price in the absence of a global deal is highly unlikely if not impossible but at least the Greens are being constructive. If Bob Brown and co. are to be a serious balance of power party they need to try and drive outcomes on issues of importance to them rather than simply jump for the moral high ground like Greenpeace or some lobby group that has no legislative power.
For the Prime Minister at the moment, the less said about Copenhagen the better. Kevin Rudd's first week back at work has involved a series of speeches around Australia, all on the economy. In stark contrast to his climate malaise the economic story is a strong one.
The unemployment rate for December fell against all expectations to 5.5% as the jobs market and the economy continue to pull through the downturn remarkably well.
The Government faces the dilemma of rising interest rates in the months ahead but with Australia ahead of the rest of the developed world, this is the ground the Rudd Government is marking out in 2010.
Kevin Rudd knows the election is likely be won in large part on his economic record and, at this stage it appears, in spite of his flagging green credentials as his plans at home and abroad remain paralysed.
The climate change issue was a key point of strength for Rudd Labor at the last election and economic credentials were yet to be earned. At the start of this election year that political orthodoxy has been turned on its head.
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Jamie, brisbane (11 March 2010 12:22AM) wrote:
On lateline I think it was the minister for enviorment, I stop paying attention as he and every body else in parlement wants to keep the fosol fuels going for as long as posable because thats what they have been told to do by big business. Now, people are better informed and can't have the wool pulled over our eyes any longer. Fact thermal energy will be up and running by the end of 2011. Fact there will be enough for the whole of the country a few years after. At this stage I am unaware of any attempt to get power lines to the source. Fact solar power is another viable option which is now being produced in the US. Fact, Califoina have now started producing cars that run on hydrogen which the only bye product is water. Now why arnt more attempts being made to move forward in these tech. All info has been seen on foxtel and read in the aust.
Alan Hooper, Australia (9 February 2010 10:54AM) wrote:
The general media and political parties are falling short in providing the public with HARD FACTS on CLIMATE CHANGE,allowing us to be bombarded with political spin. How about considering a HARD FACTS whiteboard (or electronic screen)with basic questions,answers to come from persons of authority. To compliment AGENDA have a HARD FACT section, one on one, Stephen Sackur style for answers. I am sure your viewers will not be short in offering additional questions. It would be benificial to have topics other than climate change addressed in this manner for us to make a considered opinion. With only truthfull answers I am sure your whiteboard/screen would be one of a kind. We all could do with the HARD FACTS
Charles, Melbourne (7 February 2010 1:30PM) wrote:
Well it is 2 months later - Abbot's popularity grows and Kevin’s wanes. I suppose most rational people are asking the question Is it likely Tony Abbot or Barnaby Joyce will get drunk in a New York Strip Club in the process of trying to seduce the media - Not much chance the difference to Kevin and Julia is their lives are underpinned by principle! You get it No worker will be worse off quote un quote - ask the self fund pensioners
Finn Fensbo, Tamworth (5 February 2010 4:39PM) wrote:
Australia contributes about 1.5% of total world pollution.If we cut that by 10%, that's 0.15%.Would that make a difference? Nobody knows.None of you guys ask the hard questions. If we could flick a magic switch and eliminate our total output,that may not make a difference either.
terry, victoria (2 February 2010 5:08PM) wrote:
Kieran you might be asking the tough questions but you are not getting any answers from the politicians. I was hoping that this year you would go a bit harder, in fact you are getting boring. the answers you get are no answer. If you don't change for the better, I for one will be switching off