US finally agrees to cut emissions at G8 summit – not much conviction but its a start!

Finally George Bush has accepted a long term target for emissions reduction for the US by agreeing to the G8 summit “vision” of fifty percent reduction in emissions by 2050.  The acceptance by the globe’s richest nations of this is some headway on climate change though the language is rather tentative. Thankfully there is some hope that Bush’s  time of recalcitrance is coming to an end and there may be change in the US in the near future. Individual states are already moving ahead, like the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act that is being enacted, and that gives us all some hope.

Meanwhile back in Australia echoes of past recalcitrance emerged with John Howard’s backing, in a  speech overnight, for the Nelson policy of obstruction on emissions trading.  He criticised the Rudd government for not having “a theme” and that politicians should have conviction.  The only conviction that Mr Howard showed during his period of tenure was to avoid any move to accept climate change and to stubbornly fall into line with the US in doing nothing about the growing problem.

In fact the only “theme” of the Howard government was moving in close unison with the US and blindly following it in every circumstance.  He is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying that rather than holding “starry eyed” views about international organisations, Australia had realised that “if you want to get anything done in the world” it had to do so with like-minded liberal democratic nations.”  It beggs the question: exactly did the Howard government “get done ” other than involve us in the Iraq war?

He even went so far as to defend opposition for oppositions sake “when it is in the national interest,” and because as he saw it, this is what Labor had done and now the Coalition should do likewise.  How burying one’s head in the sand in the face of a problem of global proportions that is being tackled by governments across the globe and even individual states within the US is “in the national interest,”is beyond belief. Of course it speaks volumes about Howard’s bitterness that he feels justified to cause further division in the Coalition ranks. The divisions in the Coalition on climate change are clear. Julie Bishop, deputy leader, is an example: “We support the Shergold recommendations that were given to the Howard government” she said — that a scheme was “doable by 2012”.  This moves away from Nelson’s “wait till China and India set targets” approach.

Returning to the G8 summit, the outcome is less than stunning but its a start.  The weak language of the G8 summit statement underscores the difficulty in getting the richest nations of the world, who contribute to “62 % of the carbon dioxide accumulated in the earth’s atmosphere,” to set quantifiable medium term emissions targets. Even their “vision” of 50% reduction by 2050 is rather lame but at this stage any action on climate change has to be welcomed.

The practical experience of individuals as climate change continues to affect them and the future of their children and grandchildren will be the moving force for change.

In Australia the only ongoing “theme” of the opposition and the media is denial, obstruction and dissemination of negative information and criticism on any action on climate change.  The “honeymoon is over” narrative of the media is becoming a little tiresome and it is time to move on and provide a less biased analysis of the policies that will have to be pursued by this new government.

For those that haven’t noticed because they have been in denial for so long, climate change is with us and demands action, leadership and some sacrifice.  On the other hand it also offers a wealth of opportunity for innovation and new ventures involving renewable energy and new ways of doing things in this 21st Century.  It will not be all doom and gloom if we remove ourselves from the gasole teat and our oil addiction to find new ways forward.  We may even be surprised by the economic benefits that courageous initiatives may bring. After all there must have been nay-sayers at the beginning of the industrial revolution.


Aurora australis over the elevated station at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The red light in the distance provide guidance with minimal light pollution. Aurora Australis over South Pole

Photograph by: Calee Allen, National Science Foundation. Date Taken: May 2, 2008.

~ by abstraktbiblos on Wednesday, 9 July, 2008.

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