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Australia Steps Up Climate Fight, U.S. Republicans Step Back In Time

2011/07/11

With the announcement yesterday of a new carbon tax proposal, Australia is set to become the world leader on addressing climate change. Right now, Australia leads the world in per-capita carbon pollution. The carbon tax, which has been described as “modest, riddled with exclusions, bribing voters and corporations“, is still the best national carbon plan in the world. It is expected to pass in both houses of parliament before the end of the year, but the Conservative opposition and the Australian coal industry seem determined to whip up public sentiment against the carbon tax (remember, Australia is where climate scientists have been receiving death threats and über-denier Monckton is invited back regularly ). Right now, polls indicate 60% of the population is opposed to carbon pricing, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor government is the most unpopular in 40 years. A lot is riding on the government’s ability to convince voters that it’s time to tackle climate change.

In the meantime, closer to home, U.S. Republicans, bowing to their tea party members, are set today to repeal legislation that promotes energy-efficient light bulbs, one that was signed into law by none other than President George W. Bush and is now embraced by industry. Sounds like the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Washington these days!

More Links:

Australia Carbon Tax Modest Beginning

Australia Steps Up Climate Fight, Unveils Sweeping Carbon Plan

Climate Scientists Angered By Denier’s Death Threat Campaign

Republicans Defend “Personal Liberty” in Fight To Ban Energy-Saving Lightbulbs

Carbon Fee and Dividend: Building a Green Economy

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Keith Elliott permalink
    2011/07/11 2:09 pm

    British Columbia has had a carbon tax – albeit unpopular – for awhile now. I believe July 1st this year signaled another 1 cent a liter rise in the price of gas to further increase this revenue. Done in small increments makes it more palatable, just not popular. But then, what tax is popular?

    If Australia is as bad as they say, then they should accept this tax as part of the repair to the problem.

    And now the Americans are repealing the lightbulb law? They finally make one small step forward with its’ introduction, and now they scrap it. What are they thinking?

    • Christine permalink*
      2011/07/11 9:58 pm

      I think you hit the nail on the head, Keith – there is not a lot of consideration or thought that has gone into the “support the incandescent light bulb” campaign – rather, the most extreme part of the GOP has decided it can win votes with catchy slogans and short-term thinking. *sigh*

  2. 2011/07/11 3:48 pm

    Mad Hatter’s party indeed! Why do they concern themselves with the lightbulbs? Leave it alone and move on! I heard also that BC is set to ban them. You can barely buy incandescents anymore anyway, they are tucked in on the bottom shelf, only a few. The CFLs dominate. Next stop – LEDs!

    • Christine permalink*
      2011/07/11 10:05 pm

      You’d think, Sherry, that tinkering with lightbulbs is like fiddling while Rome burns. Although apparently they don’t have much of a chance of turning back the clock on the legislation, they just want to make a point (like – “we’re opposed to progress”? or “we’re amazingly unevolved and will do anything to get a vote, no matter what the harm?”). There’s a joke going around twitter – “how many republicans does it take to screw America?” LOL

  3. 2011/07/11 10:33 pm

    these ages will be reflected with infamy and disgust. Even contemplating, in what will appear to be musing at best, among policy makers about decarbonising our energy supply will look ridiculous with what evidence we now have to those dealing with the ramifications.

    Same with low energy light globes and electric cars.. It’s merely greenwashing that demonstrates how little we’re actually willing to do to tackle what is largely our own mess.

    The Wes Jackson quote I used the other day; “…from 1750, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the graphical curve for the use of high-energy fossil carbon is increasingly steep. A ten-year-old today has been alive for a quarter of all oil ever burned. The twenty-two-year-old has been through 54 percent of all the oil ever burned.”

    So even the young – who obviously had little to do with planning – still are deep in the bulk of the carbon mess. It’s not something separated by a generation or two, but is truly our mess.

    I find it rather frustrating that the carbon tax we will be bringing in here in Aust is about the best we’ve got so far. By now, TOD and POD urban landscapes should be the norm, not “revolutionary”. Renewable energy sources should be better established with sensible usage to compensate energy fluxes built into the common psyche. It shouldn’t be seen to be a “hairshirt” to prefer a bike or unsuccessful to rely on public transport (which should also be far more convenient, cheap and clean) but laughably impractical and unnecessary to own ever larger SUV’s.

    Food and water security shocks that now seem inevitable, should’ve been dealt with long ago (they’ve been ongoing problems my entire life – but seem to be topics for mild discussion rather than committed effort because of the level of separation we’ve now acquired).

    The real problem is the ideology behind business-as-usual; how many of us saw the world and the revolutions of the industrial era. “There is no problem that we cannot solve”; “the world has truly opened up a bounty of resources ( massive mines, mountain top removal, mind boggling forestry etc)” “We’ll all be rich if we work hard enough and spend enough”

    While this persists, it’ll remain difficult to motivate most people and even more so for them to admit to the impacts we’ve had on the world around us.

    • Christine permalink*
      2011/07/12 3:16 am

      I believe it is in “The Short History of Progress” that author Ronald Wright makes the observation that we, unlike any of the other societies throughout history that have destroyed the environment around them, and thus themselves, have the luxury of having the knowledge of what has come before. That, and the fact that we can’t just scatter and rebuild anywhere else once we’ve destroyed the fabric of our ecosystem, should be enough, one would think, to convince people of the necessity to act. However, as Jared Diamond, author of “Collapse” said recently:
      There are so many societies in which the elite made decisions that were good for themselves in the short run and ruined themselves and societies in the long run….Similarly, in the United States at present, the policies being pursued by too many wealthy people and decision makers are ones that — as in the case of the Mayan kings — preserve their interests in the short run but are disastrous in the long run.

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