Last month I put the case for a 70% reduction in Australia’s CO2-e emissions. Achieving such reductions requires a well-defined path with milestones e.g. 20% by 20201. Whilst it is the task of Governments to set targets and milestones, we will all have to play our part in the journey.
The Industry sector needs to innovate, or risk becoming a dinosaur in a world embarking on an energy revolution. Inevitable increases in energy costs will need to be factored into business plans and bold steps taken to embrace green energy use and production. Society must question the wisdom of subsidising top end polluters such as the Aluminium industry which uses 15% of all electricity generated in Australia, whilst providing only 0.6% of manufacturing jobs. Put another way they generate 28kg of CO2-e for every dollar added to GDP. To put this into perspective Agriculture, the second highest emitter, adds $5 to GDP for the same CO2-e emissions2. Total power subsidies to the Aluminium industry remain secret; however the Australian Institute estimate a minimum of $200 million annually, or $40,000 per smelter job. Redirecting this money to renewable energy initiatives would stimulate greater employment and result in a more positive impact on GDP by positioning Australia as an exporter of renewable energy infrastructure and technology.
All levels of Government need to:
- Lead by example; e.g. Fremantle Council achieving Carbon Neutrality (www.freofocus.com/projects/html/carbonneutral).
- Use their jurisdictional powers to reduce CO2-e; e.g. Federal Government adopting an effective CPRS.
- Facilitate change; e.g. State Government introducing a ‘Feed-in Tariff’ for renewables that supports projects such as a renewable energy wind farm on Rouse Head.
Community members need to exercise their spending power by supporting businesses that are doing the right thing and take the carbon neutral option where available. We should also support politicians who aspire to the necessary changes.
Lastly what about you? Above all reduce consumption! You can make lifestyle decisions that actively reduce your CO2-e emissions and contrary to the naysayers, your quality of life will not be at risk and may improve. Examples are:
- Commit your household/business to natural power (www.synergy.net.au). WA has the lowest take-up of renewable power in Australia3.
- Reduce your family consumption of beef and lamb and contribute to reducing methane emissions.
- Choose and use your car(s) more wisely to reduce fuel consumption and congestion. Cycling is fun and you don’t have to wear Lycra! Using the train from Fremantle to Perth offers cost savings, reduced emissions and gives you time to read, something you can’t do while driving.
- Sign up to LivingSmart (http://www.livingsmart.org.au) and get great ideas and new friends.
- Shop locally and buy local products when available (more to come in future articles).
Jono Farmer (Good reading; Herald letters, February 13, 2010) rightly supports incentives for reduced consumption of electricity, gas and water. I advocate sliding cost scales for utilities, from lower rates than currently charged, climbing to much higher rates as consumption becomes excessive. Alternatively, Paul Redman’s suggestion (Thinking allowed; Herald January 9, 2010) of abolishing fixed charges, e.g. water rates, whilst increasing consumption charges, offers similar outcomes. Visit “myspace/blurbs/ about me” (www.jonstrachan.com) for more on this.
Ultimately, we all must consider reducing our own consumption as an investment in our children’s futures. When we become parents we adopt an unwritten covenant; ‘we strive to leave the world a better place for our children than we inherited’. This is sadly not happening now; let’s return to respecting our children’s right to a life not compromised by our excesses.
Homework: Log onto http://www.thestoryofstuff.com and watch the short animation, then write to the Herald with your thoughts and ideas.
Published in Fremantle Herald 6th March 2010
1 Grattan, Michelle 2009 The Age, August 20th 2009
2 Turton, Hal 2002 The aluminium smelting industry. Structure, market power, subsidies and greenhouse gas emissions.
3 GreenPower 2004 E-Bulletin Issue 3, June 2004