Thursday, June 07, 2007

Warning: A barrage of Howard bullshit on Climate Change

June 7, 2007 - Australians are being warned to prepare for a "barrage of lies" from the Howard Government on climate change in the lead-up to the Federal election. Last night Treasurer Peter Costello deliberately misinformed television viewers in an attempt to claim credit for stopping landclearing in Australia as a practical measure to reduce greenhouse emissions, when it was an initiative of the climate action campaigners and the Beattie Government who did the work.

Yet, when a team of German researchers asked hundreds of experts around the world to score industrialised countries according to their commitment to tackle climate change, Australia ranked second last, with only the US doing worse...

Australian Greens climate change spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne says: "This lie is offensive in the extreme to the many campaigners and the Queensland Government who worked hard to slow landclearing in order to protect Australia's biodiversity well before the election of the Howard Government."

"The Howard Government took advantage of other people's great work to negotiate an easy target at Kyoto. But their wilful negligence in the years since then has seen ongoing old growth logging, ongoing landclearing, and unrestricted growth in emissions from energy, all dwarfing the landclearing gains and putting our Kyoto targets out of reach," Senator Milne said in a media release today.

"Treasurer Costello's lie follows the Prime Minister's outrageous lie that reducing Australia's emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 would require us to close down every power station in the country and take every car off the road," said Senator Milne. "The Howard Government is clearly desperate on climate change and is willing to do anything to neutralise the issue - except take real action. Prepare for a barrage of lies."

Labor's environment spokesman Peter Garrett has accused John Howard of being "all talk and no action" on climate change. Mr Garrett says Mr Howard is simply trying to prove he is a leader on climate change before this year's election... [He has] a set of convoluted ideas it seems, but without any real commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions which is so sorely needed at this point in time," he said.

"This speech is all about Mr Howard positioning himself [before] the election as someone who can take an active leadership role on climate change. I think this is more about the politics of the upcoming election than it is about a substantial attempt at reducing emissions worldwide," said Mr Garrett.

Propaganda often works through "fabrications so audacious that it is hard to know how to respond," argues Clive Hamilton - executive director of the Australia Institute, and author of Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change. This technique has been adopted by the federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in his frequent claim that Australia is "leading the world" in the response to the climate crisis.

Clive Hamilton writes that since the Howard Government came to power, Australia's emissions have increased by 19 per cent, a growth rate more than double the average of all other industrialised countries. Hamilton says the Government expects them to grow by another 25 per cent by 2020. This is at a time when the world's climate scientists say we must reduce our emissions to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

"When deploying the "big-lie technique" there are rules to be followed: be audacious; never admit fault; never accept the possibility of alternatives; and repeat the falsehood so often that people end up accepting it as truth," writes Clive Hamilton in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Government has repeatedly displaced responsibility from itself, first by fingering developing countries as being "exempted" from Kyoto (itself a lie, as almost all developing counties have ratified the treaty).

Most recently, the bizarre policy of allocating $200 million to reduce logging in the Third World is another attempt to shift responsibility from the need to reduce fossil emissions at home. Australia, which along with the United States has refused to be part of the Kyoto initiative, announced in April that it would put up $200 million to keep tropical tree cover in Indonesia.

The science behind that assertion is published in the journal Science co-authored by Pep Canadell from the government's CSIRO research body. Canadell worked with colleagues in the US, Britain, Brazil and France to show the benefits of keeping forests as carbon sinks. They found forests do not release carbon back into atmosphere as some have suggested. Canadell estimated deforestation accounts for 20 per cent of the carbon emissions attributed to human activity.

More recently the Howard Government has shifted the blame to China, stating there is no point acting if China "pollutes the environment to its heart's content", in the words of Alexander Downer. Ten years lost in the battle against Climate Change will translate into enormous additional human misery later this century, says Clive Hamilton.

It seems John Howard's task group on climate change is still playing for time, writes Tim Colebatch in The Age. The task group report, written by business and departmental chiefs led by the secretary of the Prime Minister's Department, Peter Shergold, set out the kind of emissions trading scheme it (and the prime minister) wants to see. The report was silent on the size of emissions cuts needed, and the carbon prices required, saying that should wait for more modelling.

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the Howard Government has the cool heads and steady hands to ensure our response is both environmentally effective and economically responsible. Turnbull says in a opinion piece for The Age newspaper: "Deforestation is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after electricity generation. If we were only to halve the rate of deforestation we would cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent."

Meanwhile, it seems the world has more than enough sustainable energy and technology to curb climate change, but only if key decisions are made within the next five years, according to new research by World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The world has never been more aware of climate change, or the urgent need to slow its advance," said James Leape, WWF International's Director General. "The question for leaders and governments everywhere is how to rein in dangerously high levels of carbon dioxide emissions without stunting development and reducing living standards."

"The Climate Solutions report shows not only that this can be done, it shows how we can do it. We have a small window of time in which we can plant the seeds of change, and that is the next five years. We cannot afford to waste them."

These lies will end in our misery - Clive Hamilton SMH
ABC News Stuff
Senator Milne - Media Releases
Monsters and Critics
The Age

No comments: