Letter of note in yesterday’s Age:
IT IS interesting to note the objections and opposition to the Government’s climate plan, particularly from more affluent groups and individuals. They see it as up to industry, particularly the power industry, to lower consumption of energy and reduce emissions.
What effort are these people prepared to make to reduce their use of energy and to lower carbon emissions? In fact, what sacrifices are they prepared to make, other than changing light bulbs or installing a more efficient shower head?
It is highly improbable that many would consider markedly reducing their reliance on climate control devices (such as air-conditioning), or even buying a smaller or more efficient car. Have you noticed how many four-wheel-drives there are on the road? Would they be prepared to walk to shops, rather than drive? Of course not! Any and all fault lies solely with others. Certainly not with the mass over-consumption lifestyle and expectations that have become, to a large degree, the entitlements of suburban culture.
Unless and until people are prepared to alter this unsustainable culture, it would appear we are headed towards a dangerous climate, with continual depletion of resources.
Philip Brown, Ormond
Firstly, it’s not just about what I do as an individual. It’s about lots of individuals — as many as possible — the vast majority of the population — doing the right thing, and making sure that the government enables those people to do the right thing. And, significantly, it’s about making sure that profit-driven companies do the right thing too.
I walk and use PT a lot and drive less half the distance than the, um, average Australian. But I’m lucky enough to have easy access to PT for some of my trips. What about all the people who have nothing but an hourly bus service? What about those in suburbs where there are no shops within walking distance? Are these people expected to resign from the human race?
I buy green power and have solar hot water. So do lots of other people. But some people can’t afford it. I can’t figure out why the subsidies which will go to our filthy brown coal power stations don’t just go to buy everybody green power and solar panels.
Secondly, until the government forces the power generators to switch, they’ll keep churning out the emissions, as long as it’s profitable to do so. As The Australia Institute pointed out:
The problem for households keen to ‘do their bit’ to reduce climate change is that if they have shorter showers or put solar panels on their roofs, all they will do is reduce their personal demand for electricity. If less coal is burned to provide households with electricity, the coal-fired power stations won’t need as many permits and they can then sell their ‘spare’ permits to the aluminium or steel industries so that these polluters can INCREASE their emissions.
And that really gets at the problem with Mr Brown’s argument.
Sure, he makes a good point about over-consumption (something to remember, especially around this time of year). But you can’t expect everyone (people and companies) to change their behaviour if the right carrots and sticks aren’t applied.
That’s why Rudd’s 5% reduction target is so disappointing. It appears the compensation scheme will be so generous that it won’t actually encourage a move to low-carbon alternatives.
I’m not the first one to draw the analogy between GHG emissions and smoking, but I reckon if a 20-a-day smoker said they would cut down to 19, it would be rightly viewed as having little effect. In that context, cutting back by 5% would make no difference to that person’s health, nor in influencing others to quit.
I suppose I was hoping for more from Kevin ’07. Shame.