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Climate change: business as usual won't fix it!

It's an emergency...

The science of climate change

For years, climate scientists have warned us that we need to act on climate change. Now, science is saying that climate change is occurring more rapidly than everyone previously thought. The warning signs are obvious: bushfires and heatwaves, melting icecaps and glaciers, rising sea levels, record floods and extended drought.

Modelling from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US warns that unless drastic cuts are made to carbon emissions, the most likely outcome by late in this century will be a rise in global temperatures of around five degrees.

This rise would likely see the crossing of various natural "tipping points" that would raise temperatures still further. Even a five-degree rise would bring average temperatures to levels that have not existed for many millions of years, and to which today’s nature is simply not adapted.

Most existing species would die out. In an almost unrecognisably different biosphere, large-scale agriculture would be difficult or impossible. There is no particular reason to think that amid this chaos and devastation, more than relatively small numbers of human beings would survive.

As we confront global warming, the existence of our civilisation, and perhaps of the human species itself, is at stake.

Bringing greenhouse gas emissions under control will require deep changes and immense effort at the every level - international, national, local and personal. Each year, human activities emit twice as much greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as the world’s forests, land and oceans can absorb. Climate scientists say we have just 10 years to make the necessary cuts to our emissions. Achieving the targets in time will be a huge challenge, but it must be done.

-- END SECTION -- 280 WORDS --

...But Rudd is acting like business-as-usual

Emissions trading: more hot air

The world political debate on global warming is dominated by discussion of emissions trading schemes [ETS]. These involve setting a target level of GHG emissions (reducing over time) and issuing permits or licences to polluting industries that aim at restricting the volume of carbon dioxide they emit, by requiring polluters to pay for these licences.This scheme simply cannot achieve the major reductions in GHGs that will be required within 10 years.

These schemes are riddled with loopholes. In theory, the total amount of carbon that can be released is reduced each year, the price of carbon rises and those who don’t make the change to carbon-saving technologies pay the price. In practice, the schemes are very difficult if not impossible to police and the price of carbon is set far too low to force business to abandon its polluting practices quickly enough to have anything like the impact on overall emissions that is needed. This scheme simply cannot achieve the major reductions in GHGs that will be required within 10 years.

Carbon trading in Europe, the biggest trial so far, has been a failure. The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme has not made significant emissions reductions and has acted as a huge subsidy for some of the biggest polluters in Europe, with a handful of energy companies making billions of Euros in profit without having to reduce their emissions. Too many permits were issued and their price crashed. Carbon trading opens the way to the sort of market speculation that led to the Global Financial Crisis.

Carbon credits are also given out for “carbon offsets”, such as planting a forest plantation somewhere, even if the plantation would have gone ahead anyway or if another forest was cut down in order to plant it! These credits permit companies to use these ‘offsets’ by buying and converting prime food-producing agricultural land. Even if genuine offsets are found, it does not remove the need for Australian industry to stop polluting.

The accompanying chart shows that under Australia's proposed CPRS, actual emissions will not fall until 2035, due to the purchase of offsets. The CPRS fails at every turn to respond in a comprehensive and adequate manner to combat climate change. It proposes to give out free carbon credits to many industries such as those which have to compete internationally. But this just means that everyone else in the scheme will be paying while the actual polluters get let off.

The fundamental idea of carbon trading, even without mistakes and loopholes, is to allow some businesses to buy their way out of cutting emissions as fast and deep as others. We can't afford to let polluters off the hook with the deadline imposed by climate change. We must act immediately. The political and business elite promoting carbon trading are as bad as the deniers who claim there is no global warming: they deny that anything serious must be done. They are putting their private business interests ahead of the welfare of the world's people.

'Clean coal' and nukes: false solutions

Much promise is made about clean coal and nuclear energy... by the coal industry and nuclear industries. In reality, 'clean coal' (Carbon capture and sequestration, CCS) is still at research stage, and is at best still more than ten years away from full scale implementation - if it ever works cheaply enough to be of any use. CCS technology aims to capture carbon dioxide from coal burning and then to store it underground or under the seabed, where it would remain a potential threat to future generations should it leak out.

Nuclear reactors also take a long time to plan and construct and are extremely expensive, meaning that they can't help either, in the next ten years. Huge amounts of energy and water are used in uranium mining and power generation, and the development of nuclear technology risks further nuclear weapons proliferation. The dangers inherent in the long-term storage of nuclear waste remain present, and the risk of disastrous accidents can never be ruled out.

This hasn't stopped our government and the coal industry from spending millions of dollars researching "clean coal" even though there is no chance that it could be implemented within 15-20 years. This still unproven CCS technology aims to capture carbon dioxide from coal burning and then to store it underground or under the seabed, where it would remain a potential threat to future generations.

As emissions trading simply props up the existing capitalist financial system, the rhetoric about 'clean coal' and nuclear energy masks the real interests promoting these false solutions: Australia's hugely profitable mining industry, especially in coal and uranium. Rudd's government, like Howard before, is only serving their needs when it promotes clean coal and uranium mining.

Business-as-usual, capitalist politics cannot solve this crisis. We need to look at radical, socialist measures. This charter outlines the climate change policies of Socialist Alliance, and the strategies needed to implement them.

-- END SECTION -- 825 WORDS --

Draft Part 1
_

▼Initiate an emergency plan


A series of massive projects are needed to tackle the problem sector by sector. The technology for a zero emissions economy already exists, and we outline some of the technology we would support below. But the fundamental block to action is not the lack of technology. The real problem is that government and industry are obstructing action.

Any government that takes the climate emergency seriously would have to take the steps we outline here in our emergency plan.

Set the greenhouse gas reduction targets that science indicates


An emissions reduction target will not be effective if it still gives us runaway global warming. A target limit for greenhouse gas concentration of 450ppm would almost certainly lead to runaway warming, with devastating consequences.

Socialist Alliance supports a target of 300-325 ppm of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This target is to be achieved as rapidly as possible through immediate and urgent reductions in emissions of all GHGs with the aim of achieving zero net emissions and removing some of the CO2 already in the atmosphere.

Annual emissions reduction targets must be at least 5%. We propose immediate economy-wide and sector-by-sector planning to meet these targets on time or before. The targets may need to be reviewed as scientific forecasts change.

Businesses, local councils and Government departments should all be required to commit to reducing their overall GHG emissions to zero as part of a national plan.

▼Negotiate a much stronger international treaty


While Australia produces only 1.5% of global GHG emissions, our coal-centred economy has the highest GHG emission rate per person in the world: 5.63 tonnes of carbon each year. The global average is 1.27 tonnes. Australia has a moral obligation to take the lead on actions to combat climate change as it has the financial and natural resources that poor, underdeveloped countries do not possess. We, along with the other ‘developed’ countries, have created the problem, we must contribute the most to fixing it.

Australia should join the campaign for strong and rapid international climate action currently being led by island states and poor nations. Socialist Alliance suggests a new international treaty should aim for 90% emissions reductions (from 1990 levels) by 2030.

Most poor nations cannot deal with climate change without assistance. Rich nations like Australia must assist poor nations to develop without high-pollution industries and introduce widespread use of renewable energy. Australia must also accept a fair share of the environmental refugees to be displaced by rising sea levels, especially from the Asia-Pacific region. This assistance is just part of repaying our ecological debt for our historical high emissions.


▼Attack energy inefficiency - aim for zero waste

One of the easiest ways to reduce GHGs is by increasing efficiency and reducing waste. More efficient appliances, insulating homes, better recycling, improved and more efficient public transport, producing locally-produced goods—these are some of the simple but effective changes that we can make right now.

But these changes will not happen fast enough if they’re left up to individual consumers to respond to appeals to save energy, and to the ‘sticks and carrots’ approach of energy price hikes and tax rebates.

To begin the transition to sustainability, we must set energy efficiency as a national goal, and then develop ambitious targets, standards, regulations and national and local campaigns to achieve it.

While replacing incandescent light bulbs with low-energy bulbs is a worthwhile step, it’s just not enough to have a serious effect on national energy levels. We need comprehensive energy plans to make every Australian home energy efficient.

Governments committed to energy efficiency should have sustainable energy household conversion plans, with annual targets for solar power and heating installation compulsory for energy utilities These plans should support community initiatives dedicated to goals like creating “zero emission” housing, schools and other public facilities.

Industry and business must undergo systematic energy audits and achieve compliance deadlines. Firms that don't upgrade to low emissions technology and processes would have to close or be taken over.

It would also monitor and establish strict standards for the energy use of business products. Businesses that operate in a market and profit-based economy focus on selling their products, and most are unlikely to introduce or maintain energy-saving programs without strong Government regulations.
Integral to the plan is the phasing out of the $9 billion in fossil fuel subsidies to energy-hungry industries like aluminium refining. Industries that are heavy users of energy should be required to obtain their energy needs from sustainable sources.
All products require energy to be manufactured. Waste of energy and resources is built into the entire economy. More profits are made from designing products not to last, and pollution produced during the processes goes on to become the community’s problem. Even now, most consumer products one way or another are discarded at the end of their life.

In a zero waste economy, products are designed so that they can be repaired, re-used and disassembled for recycling. We must require manufacturers to take back their used products and recycle the components.


Phase out coal, build renewables now


Coal burning now accounts for around 36% of Australia's GHG emissions. Mining and handling coal adds even more. A plan for phasing out coal mining and export must be developed, and this must involve creating new jobs for miners in sustainable industries. Transitional assistance should be offered to help developing countries like India source their energy needs from renewables.
No new coal mines or coal-fired power plants should be approved.

Australia could meet its basic energy needs from a combination of non-fossil fuel sources like solar, wind, biomass derived from agricultural wastes, tidal and geothermal (hot rocks beneath the Earth's surface).

Countries like Spain and Denmark already produce more than 20% of their energy from solar and wind power.
Australia should set a target of having all of its electricity generated by renewable energy by 2020.

While massive government subsidies continue to be given to fossil fuels like brown coal, research into renewable energy technologies is still being starved of funds.

This lack of serious research and development funding for renewable energy means that the fossil fuel and nuclear industries can delay any change towards sustainability. It hampers the rapid development of renewable technologies that would enable them to compete fairly with their cheaper polluting products.

The only way to ensure that renewable energy develops at the pace needed to limit GHG increases is to create an adequately funded, publicly-owned renewable energy network. The new RET laws that set a 20% target for renewables by 2020 are clearly insufficient to deal with the climate emergency we now have.

▼A new agricultural model—organic farming and reforestation


Agriculture accounts for 16% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. Our current agricultural practices—based on growing and harvesting of single crops and the use of artificial fertilisers—consume huge quantities of fossil fuels. This not only creates pollution, but when fossil fuel supplies start to diminish, food security along with the climate will be threatened.

Livestock farming is currently extremely energy-intensive and water-intensive. Further, Australia has enormous stock of cattle and sheep, which exhale methane as part of their digestive process. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas, but does not last in the atmosphere more than a decade or two. Australia needs to reduce its flocks of sheep and cattle drastically, as part of a comprehensive reduction in methane emissions which will aid in rapidly cooling the earth.

Australia must start a transition to carbon-neutral and organic farming. The use of naturally arid areas to grow water-intensive crops, such as rice and cotton, must end.


For "carbon farming"

Land management and agriculture must aim to lock carbon into the soil and into the ecosystem, in what could be called "carbon farming."

Land clearing and outdated forestry practices such as old-growth logging, which account for 6% of national GHG emissions, must end now. It’s fact that native forests that have not been logged store up to three times more carbon than forests that have been logged. To increase this “carbon sink" capacity, extensive programs of native-forest planting must be initiated. Australia's temperate rainforests are one of earth's biggest biological carbon stores, and should be regenerated across the south of the continent wherever possible.

Existing farming communities should be encouraged with income, resources and training to make the transition to organic agriculture.
Food production should be decentralised and localised to reduce the energy needed to transport and refrigerate foods.
The Socialist Alliance supports the growth of urban agriculture, especially as many cities are built on our most fertile lands.
All organic waste, including green waste and sewage, should be composted and the methane gas by-product harnessed for use as an energy source. This avoids methane gas escaping into the atmosphere from landfills, which currently occurs.

Agricultural methods such as mulching, organic compost use, and no-tillage or low-tillage farming should be rolled out on a large scale through development grants and incentives to farmers. All these methods help the soil to hold carbon, and are often very productive farming methods in their own right.

Biochar - the use of fine charcoal powder in the soil - is another method being researched for storing more carbon in the soil and improving soil fertility and water retention. Experiments in Western Australia show that when buried in soils, biochar dramatically increases yields of wheat. The porous grains of carbon improve retention of water and of plant nutrients.

Biochar should be developed along with the other methods mentioned above, but the fuel to make biochar must be sourced from existing crop waste and any other use, such as plantation timber, must be strictly regulated to ensure that forests are not sacrificed to this method. Like biofuels, the existing systems of carbon trading promise to turn biochar into a profitable enterprise as a carbon offset, potentially putting pressure on forests to make way for biochar feedstock plantations.


Make public transport free, frequent, accessible and reliable

Transport is responsible for 14% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, a share that is rapidly increasing. Road transport accounts for around 90% of that share. A transport system where cars carry 80% of people to work, and trucks carry 60% of goods is not only highly inefficient, but it creates huge volumes of GHG emissions.

To reverse this trend we have to put public transport at the centre of our urban development plans.

Although trains are 40 times more energy efficient than cars, we won’t reduce or stop using cars and trucks unless there’s huge investment in public and rail freight transport to make it a real option for commuters and industry.

A successful public transport system will have reliable, frequent services available to everyone within 10 minutes walk of a service, especially in outer metropolitan regions. It will have to be a publicly owned, integrated system of heavy rail, light rail, ferry and bus services.

But we need to make it more attractive to users. To accelerate the switch to public transport it has to be free. That’s what transport authorities have always done when they really need to move large numbers of people quickly. In the Belgian city of Hasselt within a year of introducing free bus fares, patronage increased by 870%.

Yes, this proposal would involve spending significant amounts of public funds. However, we have to measure the total community cost and benefit of public transport against the total cost and benefit of continuing to shift people and goods by private car and truck.

When we do that, public transport wins every time. For every 10% switch from car and truck and into public transport, the costs of air pollution, greenhouse gas emission, car accidents, traffic congestion, motor vehicle waste disposal, noise pollution and road maintenance would drop by at least $1.4 billion.

Free and frequent public transport combined with policies that stimulate cycling and walking is the only serious approach to curbing greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector.



Draft Part 3


▼No solution without public ownership and democratic control


The principle of “polluter pays” means that the polluting companies should be directed to clean up the mess they have made. Individual consumers do use polluting products but they are rarely responsible for the decisions that result in the pollution occurring: industry must bear the costs.

The first measure to ensure a just solution is to take over industries that will not stop polluting, and place them under public ownership and scrutiny. In this way, those operations that are essential can be identified and kept (and cleaned up) while non-essential aspects can be scaled back or shut down. The profits that these public enterprises will still make can be re-invested in further programs.

Private power companies have a vested interest in encouraging the use of more energy. What we really need is less energy use, and new clean power targets that can be met with renewable sources. But Australian governments have recently sold their public utilities and vital infrastructure to private companies.

Public ownership and control over the vital area of energy generation and distribution is essential to bring this sector under an overall plan for greenhouse gas reduction and environmental sustainability.


Guarantee jobs, involve workers in the fight for a liveable environment

As old industries decay or fail, their workers are normally thrown on the scrap heap of unemployment. For example, as oil prices rise and cars become too expensive, the fossil-fuel based auto industry may well shrink to a boutique luxury service and masses of workers lose their jobs. These workers would become the driving force and moral guarantor of the new sustainable society, and not left behind with the de-commissioned machinery.

.A plan for a transition to a sustainable and just economy is therefore essential.


Workers are critical to identifying and eliminating waste and pollution in the workplace, closing down old industries and opening new ones. The transition also needs government-funded “climate action brigades” - teams of people who can provide practical assistance and resources to assist households and communities improve their energy efficiency.

Socialist Alliance proposes a massive program of converting energy infrastructure that will demand a large number of workers, requiring extensive redeployment and training. We will also need an expansion of free public education to provide sufficient numbers of skilled professionals to achieve the necessary research and development goals.

Working people and their unions can also show the way to sustainability to the rest of society by producing model projects, like high standard, carbon neutral, sustainable housing - proof that the combination of appropriate technology with workers’ skills will be key in the transition.

END OF PART 3 764 WORDS

Draft Part 4

Change the system, not the climate!

None of what we have outlined is going to happen unless it is fought for by an informed and mobilised community.

Australia's fossil fuel industries won't accept these measures. For years they funded reports that threw doubt on the reality and severity of the problem. Now organisations like the Business Council of Australia want to preserve their members’ rights to pollute by saying they really do care about the environment, i.e. ‘greenwash”.

For 13 years, the Howard Government tried to undermine the Kyoto protocol and, despite all of the evidence, refused to take any action that would reduce the profits of the coal, aluminium, electricity and forestry industries.

The Rudd Government is also influenced by the big polluters, fixated by "clean coal" and permitting more coal and uranium exports. It proposes targets for emissions reductions by 2050 that would mean Australia emitting 6-10 times (per person) the Earth's estimated capacity to absorb carbon, a recipe for catastrophic climate change.

Both major parties cynically claim to be protecting jobs, but prpose little or nothing to encourage an urgent transition to ‘green’ jobs. They offer little support for the developing solar, wind, geothermal and tide energy indicutries.

The Socialist Alliance says that the planet and future generations must always take precedence over corporate profits.

The corporations that have lobbied and threatened elected governments and resisted change despite knowing of the risks to our planet, have lost the right to control the resources they are wasting.

The community cannot afford private interests to continue to determine policy. To replace their control of policy will require a movement that is independent of either of the major parties, but is strong enough to put pressure on whichever party is in government.

Just as the community forced the Australian Government to stop plans to dam Tasmania’s Franklin River in 1983, so the movement to avert climate catastrophe must mean more than just voting for change. The campaign must also happen in the streets, workplaces, schools and universities to win wide public support for the changes that need to be made.

Creating those changes also means challenging the capitalist market, which has failed to protect future generations and can no longer be allowed to stop us from averting climate disaster.


▼THE SOCIALIST ALLIANCE 10-POINT CLIMATE ACTION PLAN


1. Implement immediate emission reduction targets with the aim being to reduce net emissions to zero as soon as practicable, but with an interim target of achieving 100% of power from renewable sources by 2020, and 90% cut in overall emissions by 2030. Introduce annual reduction targets of at least 5% to ensure that these targets are met.

2. Initiate further international treaty negotiations aimed at getting all countries to agree to a global target of 90 % emissions reductions on 1990 levels by 2030. Make cutting rich industrial nations' emissions a priority, and supply aid to poorer countries to assist them to harness renewable sources of energy for industrial development.

3. Start the transition to a zero-waste economy. End industrial energy waste by legislation. Improve or ban wasteful consumer products such as those with built-in obsolescence. Engage workers in industry, with the appropriate technical experts, to redesign their products and jobs sustainably.

4. Require the fitting of all feasible energy efficiency measures to existing houses and subsidise owner-occupiers for the costs. Allow renters to use the same system. Install photo-voltaic solar panels and solar hot water heaters on home roofs, subsidised or owned by the electricity authority. Give commercial buildings a deadline to meet six-star energy standards within two years, and 10-star standards within 10 years.

5. Bring all power industries under public ownership and democratic control. Begin phasing out coal mining and power immediately. Provide guaranteed jobs and retraining on full pay for coalmining and power-station communities, with new sustainable industries being built in their areas and voluntary paid redundancies offered. Run the maximum possible base-load power from existing natural gas and/or hydro power stations instead of coal, as an interim measure until renewable energy is available. Coal to be used only for predicted energy peaks in the short term until renewable energy infrastructure replaces coal and then natural gas.

6. Bring the whole car industry under public control. Re-tool this industry to manufacture wind turbines, public transport vehicles and infrastructure, solar hot water, solar photo-voltaic cells. Subsidise the conversion of private cars to electric power.

7. Accelerate the construction of wind farms in suitable areas. Boost research into all renewable energy sources including wind, solar photovoltaic cells, geothermal, concentrating solar thermal, biofuel (from waste), wave and tidal generation sources. Build pilot geothermal plants now. Create localised power grids

8. End the logging old-growth forests and begin an urgent program of re-forestation, carbon farming and protection of biodiversity to provide increased carbon sinks.

9. End industrial farming based on fertilisers, pesticides and fuel sourced from petroleum. Restrict farming areas to ensure that riverine, forest and other indigenous ecosystems return to healthy states. Encourage new farming practices including organic and urban farming. This process must allow for security of food supplies, and guarantee full employment and retraining for rural communities.

10. Make all urban and regional public transport free and upgrade services to enable all urban residents to use it for all their regular commuting. Nationalise and upgrade interstate train and ferry services, to provide real alternatives to air travel. Rail freight must be prioritised. All rail, light rail and interstate freight to be electrified or to run on biofuels from waste where possible. Encourage bicycle use through more cycleways, and better facilities for cyclists. Implement free or very cheap bicycle rental networks.


END OF PART 4
** 946 WORDS

external image msword.png Chart3.6.doc
Climate change: business as usual won't fix it!

It's an emergency...

The science of climate change
For years, climate scientists have warned us that we need to act on climate change. Now, science is saying that climate change is occurring more rapidly than everyone previously thought. The warning signs are obvious: bushfires and heatwaves, melting icecaps and glaciers, rising sea levels, record floods and extended drought.

Modelling from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US warns that unless drastic cuts are made to carbon emissions, the most likely outcome by late in this century will be a rise in global temperatures of around five degrees.

This rise would likely see the crossing of various natural "tipping points" that would raise temperatures still further. Even a five-degree rise would bring average temperatures to levels that have not existed for many millions of years, and to which today’s nature is simply not adapted.

Most existing species would die out. In an almost unrecognisably different biosphere, large-scale agriculture would be difficult or impossible. There is no particular reason to think that amid this chaos and devastation, more than relatively small numbers of human beings would survive.

As we confront global warming, the existence of our civilisation, and perhaps of the human species itself, is at stake.

Bringing greenhouse gas emissions under control will require deep changes and immense effort at the every level - international, national, local and personal. Each year, human activities emit twice as much greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as the world’s forests, land and oceans can absorb. Climate scientists say we have just 10 years to make the necessary cuts to our emissions. Achieving the targets in time will be a huge challenge, but it must be done.

-- END SECTION -- 280 WORDS --

...But Rudd is acting like business-as-usual

Emissions trading: more hot air
The world political debate on global warming is dominated by discussion of emissions trading schemes [ETS]. These involve setting a target level of GHG emissions (reducing over time) and issuing permits or licences to polluting industries that aim at restricting the volume of carbon dioxide they emit, by requiring polluters to pay for these licences.This scheme simply cannot achieve the major reductions in GHGs that will be required within 10 years.

These schemes are riddled with loopholes. In theory, the total amount of carbon that can be released is reduced each year, the price of carbon rises and those who don’t make the change to carbon-saving technologies pay the price. In practice, the schemes are very difficult if not impossible to police and the price of carbon is set far too low to force business to abandon its polluting practices quickly enough to have anything like the impact on overall emissions that is needed. This scheme simply cannot achieve the major reductions in GHGs that will be required within 10 years.

Carbon trading in Europe, the biggest trial so far, has been a failure. The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme has not made significant emissions reductions and has acted as a huge subsidy for some of the biggest polluters in Europe, with a handful of energy companies making billions of Euros in profit without having to reduce their emissions. Too many permits were issued and their price crashed. Carbon trading opens the way to the sort of market speculation that led to the Global Financial Crisis.

Carbon credits are also given out for “carbon offsets”, such as planting a forest plantation somewhere, even if the plantation would have gone ahead anyway or if another forest was cut down in order to plant it! These credits permit companies to use these ‘offsets’ by buying and converting prime food-producing agricultural land. Even if genuine offsets are found, it does not remove the need for Australian industry to stop polluting.

The accompanying chart shows that under Australia's proposed CPRS, actual emissions will not fall until 2035, due to the purchase of offsets. The CPRS fails at every turn to respond in a comprehensive and adequate manner to combat climate change. It proposes to give out free carbon credits to many industries such as those which have to compete internationally. But this just means that everyone else in the scheme will be paying while the actual polluters get let off.

The fundamental idea of carbon trading, even without mistakes and loopholes, is to allow some businesses to buy their way out of cutting emissions as fast and deep as others. We can't afford to let polluters off the hook with the deadline imposed by climate change. We must act immediately. The political and business elite promoting carbon trading are as bad as the deniers who claim there is no global warming: they deny that anything serious must be done. They are putting their private business interests ahead of the welfare of the world's people.

'Clean coal' and nukes: false solutions
Much promise is made about clean coal and nuclear energy... by the coal industry and nuclear industries. In reality, 'clean coal' (Carbon capture and sequestration, CCS) is still at research stage, and is at best still more than ten years away from full scale implementation - if it ever works cheaply enough to be of any use. CCS technology aims to capture carbon dioxide from coal burning and then to store it underground or under the seabed, where it would remain a potential threat to future generations should it leak out.

Nuclear reactors also take a long time to plan and construct and are extremely expensive, meaning that they can't help either, in the next ten years. Huge amounts of energy and water are used in uranium mining and power generation, and the development of nuclear technology risks further nuclear weapons proliferation. The dangers inherent in the long-term storage of nuclear waste remain present, and the risk of disastrous accidents can never be ruled out.

This hasn't stopped our government and the coal industry from spending millions of dollars researching "clean coal" even though there is no chance that it could be implemented within 15-20 years. This still unproven CCS technology aims to capture carbon dioxide from coal burning and then to store it underground or under the seabed, where it would remain a potential threat to future generations.

As emissions trading simply props up the existing capitalist financial system, the rhetoric about 'clean coal' and nuclear energy masks the real interests promoting these false solutions: Australia's hugely profitable mining industry, especially in coal and uranium. Rudd's government, like Howard before, is only serving their needs when it promotes clean coal and uranium mining.

Business-as-usual, capitalist politics cannot solve this crisis. We need to look at radical, socialist measures. This charter outlines the climate change policies of Socialist Alliance, and the strategies needed to implement them.

-- END SECTION -- 825 WORDS --

Draft Part 1
_

▼Initiate an emergency plan

A series of massive projects are needed to tackle the problem sector by sector. The technology for a zero emissions economy already exists, and we outline some of the technology we would support below. But the fundamental block to action is not the lack of technology. The real problem is that government and industry are obstructing action.

Any government that takes the climate emergency seriously would have to take the steps we outline here in our emergency plan.

Set the greenhouse gas reduction targets that science indicates

An emissions reduction target will not be effective if it still gives us runaway global warming. A target limit for greenhouse gas concentration of 450ppm would almost certainly lead to runaway warming, with devastating consequences.

Socialist Alliance supports a target of 300-325 ppm of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This target is to be achieved as rapidly as possible through immediate and urgent reductions in emissions of all GHGs with the aim of achieving zero net emissions and removing some of the CO2 already in the atmosphere.

Annual emissions reduction targets must be at least 5%. We propose immediate economy-wide and sector-by-sector planning to meet these targets on time or before. The targets may need to be reviewed as scientific forecasts change.

Businesses, local councils and Government departments should all be required to commit to reducing their overall GHG emissions to zero as part of a national plan.

▼Negotiate a much stronger international treaty

While Australia produces only 1.5% of global GHG emissions, our coal-centred economy has the highest GHG emission rate per person in the world: 5.63 tonnes of carbon each year. The global average is 1.27 tonnes. Australia has a moral obligation to take the lead on actions to combat climate change as it has the financial and natural resources that poor, underdeveloped countries do not possess. We, along with the other ‘developed’ countries, have created the problem, we must contribute the most to fixing it.

Australia should join the campaign for strong and rapid international climate action currently being led by island states and poor nations. Socialist Alliance suggests a new international treaty should aim for 90% emissions reductions (from 1990 levels) by 2030.

Most poor nations cannot deal with climate change without assistance. Rich nations like Australia must assist poor nations to develop without high-pollution industries and introduce widespread use of renewable energy. Australia must also accept a fair share of the environmental refugees to be displaced by rising sea levels, especially from the Asia-Pacific region. This assistance is just part of repaying our ecological debt for our historical high emissions.


▼Attack energy inefficiency - aim for zero waste

One of the easiest ways to reduce GHGs is by increasing efficiency and reducing waste. More efficient appliances, insulating homes, better recycling, improved and more efficient public transport, producing locally-produced goods—these are some of the simple but effective changes that we can make right now.

But these changes will not happen fast enough if they’re left up to individual consumers to respond to appeals to save energy, and to the ‘sticks and carrots’ approach of energy price hikes and tax rebates.

To begin the transition to sustainability, we must set energy efficiency as a national goal, and then develop ambitious targets, standards, regulations and national and local campaigns to achieve it.

While replacing incandescent light bulbs with low-energy bulbs is a worthwhile step, it’s just not enough to have a serious effect on national energy levels. We need comprehensive energy plans to make every Australian home energy efficient.

Governments committed to energy efficiency should have sustainable energy household conversion plans, with annual targets for solar power and heating installation compulsory for energy utilities These plans should support community initiatives dedicated to goals like creating “zero emission” housing, schools and other public facilities.

Industry and business must undergo systematic energy audits and achieve compliance deadlines. Firms that don't upgrade to low emissions technology and processes would have to close or be taken over.

It would also monitor and establish strict standards for the energy use of business products. Businesses that operate in a market and profit-based economy focus on selling their products, and most are unlikely to introduce or maintain energy-saving programs without strong Government regulations.
Integral to the plan is the phasing out of the $9 billion in fossil fuel subsidies to energy-hungry industries like aluminium refining. Industries that are heavy users of energy should be required to obtain their energy needs from sustainable sources.
All products require energy to be manufactured. Waste of energy and resources is built into the entire economy. More profits are made from designing products not to last, and pollution produced during the processes goes on to become the community’s problem. Even now, most consumer products one way or another are discarded at the end of their life.

In a zero waste economy, products are designed so that they can be repaired, re-used and disassembled for recycling. We must require manufacturers to take back their used products and recycle the components.


Phase out coal, build renewables now

Coal burning now accounts for around 36% of Australia's GHG emissions. Mining and handling coal adds even more. A plan for phasing out coal mining and export must be developed, and this must involve creating new jobs for miners in sustainable industries. Transitional assistance should be offered to help developing countries like India source their energy needs from renewables.
No new coal mines or coal-fired power plants should be approved.

Australia could meet its basic energy needs from a combination of non-fossil fuel sources like solar, wind, biomass derived from agricultural wastes, tidal and geothermal (hot rocks beneath the Earth's surface).

Countries like Spain and Denmark already produce more than 20% of their energy from solar and wind power.
Australia should set a target of having all of its electricity generated by renewable energy by 2020.

While massive government subsidies continue to be given to fossil fuels like brown coal, research into renewable energy technologies is still being starved of funds.

This lack of serious research and development funding for renewable energy means that the fossil fuel and nuclear industries can delay any change towards sustainability. It hampers the rapid development of renewable technologies that would enable them to compete fairly with their cheaper polluting products.

The only way to ensure that renewable energy develops at the pace needed to limit GHG increases is to create an adequately funded, publicly-owned renewable energy network. The new RET laws that set a 20% target for renewables by 2020 are clearly insufficient to deal with the climate emergency we now have.

▼A new agricultural model—organic farming and reforestation

Agriculture accounts for 16% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. Our current agricultural practices—based on growing and harvesting of single crops and the use of artificial fertilisers—consume huge quantities of fossil fuels. This not only creates pollution, but when fossil fuel supplies start to diminish, food security along with the climate will be threatened.

Livestock farming is currently extremely energy-intensive and water-intensive. Further, Australia has enormous stock of cattle and sheep, which exhale methane as part of their digestive process. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas, but does not last in the atmosphere more than a decade or two. Australia needs to reduce its flocks of sheep and cattle drastically, as part of a comprehensive reduction in methane emissions which will aid in rapidly cooling the earth.

Australia must start a transition to carbon-neutral and organic farming. The use of naturally arid areas to grow water-intensive crops, such as rice and cotton, must end.


For "carbon farming"

Land management and agriculture must aim to lock carbon into the soil and into the ecosystem, in what could be called "carbon farming."

Land clearing and outdated forestry practices such as old-growth logging, which account for 6% of national GHG emissions, must end now. It’s fact that native forests that have not been logged store up to three times more carbon than forests that have been logged. To increase this “carbon sink" capacity, extensive programs of native-forest planting must be initiated. Australia's temperate rainforests are one of earth's biggest biological carbon stores, and should be regenerated across the south of the continent wherever possible.

Existing farming communities should be encouraged with income, resources and training to make the transition to organic agriculture.
Food production should be decentralised and localised to reduce the energy needed to transport and refrigerate foods.
The Socialist Alliance supports the growth of urban agriculture, especially as many cities are built on our most fertile lands.
All organic waste, including green waste and sewage, should be composted and the methane gas by-product harnessed for use as an energy source. This avoids methane gas escaping into the atmosphere from landfills, which currently occurs.

Agricultural methods such as mulching, organic compost use, and no-tillage or low-tillage farming should be rolled out on a large scale through development grants and incentives to farmers. All these methods help the soil to hold carbon, and are often very productive farming methods in their own right.

Biochar - the use of fine charcoal powder in the soil - is another method being researched for storing more carbon in the soil and improving soil fertility and water retention. Experiments in Western Australia show that when buried in soils, biochar dramatically increases yields of wheat. The porous grains of carbon improve retention of water and of plant nutrients.

Biochar should be developed along with the other methods mentioned above, but the fuel to make biochar must be sourced from existing crop waste and any other use, such as plantation timber, must be strictly regulated to ensure that forests are not sacrificed to this method. Like biofuels, the existing systems of carbon trading promise to turn biochar into a profitable enterprise as a carbon offset, potentially putting pressure on forests to make way for biochar feedstock plantations.


Make public transport free, frequent, accessible and reliable

Transport is responsible for 14% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, a share that is rapidly increasing. Road transport accounts for around 90% of that share. A transport system where cars carry 80% of people to work, and trucks carry 60% of goods is not only highly inefficient, but it creates huge volumes of GHG emissions.

To reverse this trend we have to put public transport at the centre of our urban development plans.

Although trains are 40 times more energy efficient than cars, we won’t reduce or stop using cars and trucks unless there’s huge investment in public and rail freight transport to make it a real option for commuters and industry.

A successful public transport system will have reliable, frequent services available to everyone within 10 minutes walk of a service, especially in outer metropolitan regions. It will have to be a publicly owned, integrated system of heavy rail, light rail, ferry and bus services.

But we need to make it more attractive to users. To accelerate the switch to public transport it has to be free. That’s what transport authorities have always done when they really need to move large numbers of people quickly. In the Belgian city of Hasselt within a year of introducing free bus fares, patronage increased by 870%.

Yes, this proposal would involve spending significant amounts of public funds. However, we have to measure the total community cost and benefit of public transport against the total cost and benefit of continuing to shift people and goods by private car and truck.

When we do that, public transport wins every time. For every 10% switch from car and truck and into public transport, the costs of air pollution, greenhouse gas emission, car accidents, traffic congestion, motor vehicle waste disposal, noise pollution and road maintenance would drop by at least $1.4 billion.

Free and frequent public transport combined with policies that stimulate cycling and walking is the only serious approach to curbing greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector.



Draft Part 3


▼No solution without public ownership and democratic control

The principle of “polluter pays” means that the polluting companies should be directed to clean up the mess they have made. Individual consumers do use polluting products but they are rarely responsible for the decisions that result in the pollution occurring: industry must bear the costs.

The first measure to ensure a just solution is to take over industries that will not stop polluting, and place them under public ownership and scrutiny. In this way, those operations that are essential can be identified and kept (and cleaned up) while non-essential aspects can be scaled back or shut down. The profits that these public enterprises will still make can be re-invested in further programs.

Private power companies have a vested interest in encouraging the use of more energy. What we really need is less energy use, and new clean power targets that can be met with renewable sources. But Australian governments have recently sold their public utilities and vital infrastructure to private companies.

Public ownership and control over the vital area of energy generation and distribution is essential to bring this sector under an overall plan for greenhouse gas reduction and environmental sustainability.


Guarantee jobs, involve workers in the fight for a liveable environment

As old industries decay or fail, their workers are normally thrown on the scrap heap of unemployment. For example, as oil prices rise and cars become too expensive, the fossil-fuel based auto industry may well shrink to a boutique luxury service and masses of workers lose their jobs. These workers would become the driving force and moral guarantor of the new sustainable society, and not left behind with the de-commissioned machinery.

.A plan for a transition to a sustainable and just economy is therefore essential.

Workers are critical to identifying and eliminating waste and pollution in the workplace, closing down old industries and opening new ones. The transition also needs government-funded “climate action brigades” - teams of people who can provide practical assistance and resources to assist households and communities improve their energy efficiency.

Socialist Alliance proposes a massive program of converting energy infrastructure that will demand a large number of workers, requiring extensive redeployment and training. We will also need an expansion of free public education to provide sufficient numbers of skilled professionals to achieve the necessary research and development goals.

Working people and their unions can also show the way to sustainability to the rest of society by producing model projects, like high standard, carbon neutral, sustainable housing - proof that the combination of appropriate technology with workers’ skills will be key in the transition.

END OF PART 3 764 WORDS

Draft Part 4

Change the system, not the climate!

None of what we have outlined is going to happen unless it is fought for by an informed and mobilised community.

Australia's fossil fuel industries won't accept these measures. For years they funded reports that threw doubt on the reality and severity of the problem. Now organisations like the Business Council of Australia want to preserve their members’ rights to pollute by saying they really do care about the environment, i.e. ‘greenwash”.

For 13 years, the Howard Government tried to undermine the Kyoto protocol and, despite all of the evidence, refused to take any action that would reduce the profits of the coal, aluminium, electricity and forestry industries.

The Rudd Government is also influenced by the big polluters, fixated by "clean coal" and permitting more coal and uranium exports. It proposes targets for emissions reductions by 2050 that would mean Australia emitting 6-10 times (per person) the Earth's estimated capacity to absorb carbon, a recipe for catastrophic climate change.

Both major parties cynically claim to be protecting jobs, but prpose little or nothing to encourage an urgent transition to ‘green’ jobs. They offer little support for the developing solar, wind, geothermal and tide energy indicutries.

The Socialist Alliance says that the planet and future generations must always take precedence over corporate profits.

The corporations that have lobbied and threatened elected governments and resisted change despite knowing of the risks to our planet, have lost the right to control the resources they are wasting.

The community cannot afford private interests to continue to determine policy. To replace their control of policy will require a movement that is independent of either of the major parties, but is strong enough to put pressure on whichever party is in government.

Just as the community forced the Australian Government to stop plans to dam Tasmania’s Franklin River in 1983, so the movement to avert climate catastrophe must mean more than just voting for change. The campaign must also happen in the streets, workplaces, schools and universities to win wide public support for the changes that need to be made.

Creating those changes also means challenging the capitalist market, which has failed to protect future generations and can no longer be allowed to stop us from averting climate disaster.


▼THE SOCIALIST ALLIANCE 10-POINT CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

1. Implement immediate emission reduction targets with the aim being to reduce net emissions to zero as soon as practicable, but with an interim target of achieving 100% of power from renewable sources by 2020, and 90% cut in overall emissions by 2030. Introduce annual reduction targets of at least 5% to ensure that these targets are met.

2. Initiate further international treaty negotiations aimed at getting all countries to agree to a global target of 90 % emissions reductions on 1990 levels by 2030. Make cutting rich industrial nations' emissions a priority, and supply aid to poorer countries to assist them to harness renewable sources of energy for industrial development.

3. Start the transition to a zero-waste economy. End industrial energy waste by legislation. Improve or ban wasteful consumer products such as those with built-in obsolescence. Engage workers in industry, with the appropriate technical experts, to redesign their products and jobs sustainably.

4. Require the fitting of all feasible energy efficiency measures to existing houses and subsidise owner-occupiers for the costs. Allow renters to use the same system. Install photo-voltaic solar panels and solar hot water heaters on home roofs, subsidised or owned by the electricity authority. Give commercial buildings a deadline to meet six-star energy standards within two years, and 10-star standards within 10 years.

5. Bring all power industries under public ownership and democratic control. Begin phasing out coal mining and power immediately. Provide guaranteed jobs and retraining on full pay for coalmining and power-station communities, with new sustainable industries being built in their areas and voluntary paid redundancies offered. Run the maximum possible base-load power from existing natural gas and/or hydro power stations instead of coal, as an interim measure until renewable energy is available. Coal to be used only for predicted energy peaks in the short term until renewable energy infrastructure replaces coal and then natural gas.

6. Bring the whole car industry under public control. Re-tool this industry to manufacture wind turbines, public transport vehicles and infrastructure, solar hot water, solar photo-voltaic cells. Subsidise the conversion of private cars to electric power.

7. Accelerate the construction of wind farms in suitable areas. Boost research into all renewable energy sources including wind, solar photovoltaic cells, geothermal, concentrating solar thermal, biofuel (from waste), wave and tidal generation sources. Build pilot geothermal plants now. Create localised power grids

8. End the logging old-growth forests and begin an urgent program of re-forestation, carbon farming and protection of biodiversity to provide increased carbon sinks.

9. End industrial farming based on fertilisers, pesticides and fuel sourced from petroleum. Restrict farming areas to ensure that riverine, forest and other indigenous ecosystems return to healthy states. Encourage new farming practices including organic and urban farming. This process must allow for security of food supplies, and guarantee full employment and retraining for rural communities.

10. Make all urban and regional public transport free and upgrade services to enable all urban residents to use it for all their regular commuting. Nationalise and upgrade interstate train and ferry services, to provide real alternatives to air travel. Rail freight must be prioritised. All rail, light rail and interstate freight to be electrified or to run on biofuels from waste where possible. Encourage bicycle use through more cycleways, and better facilities for cyclists. Implement free or very cheap bicycle rental networks.


END OF PART 4
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