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Climate change is a war that we must fight

Ian Dunlop, The Age (Australia)
BEFORE casting their votes next month, Australians should reflect long and hard on the real priorities the nation faces. These are not tax cuts, industrial relations, the economy, interest rates or the stockmarket, but the very survival and sustainability of our society and the planet.

With the global population heading from 6.5 billion today towards 9 billion by 2050, we are already exceeding the ability of the planet to absorb the impact of human activity. The immediate sustainability priorities are water, climate change and the peaking of global oil supply. But our leaders, having supposedly crossed the threshold of accepting that sustainability, in particular climate change, is

a serious issue, seem to believe it can be solved by minor tweaking of business as usual. That is demonstrably not the case.

In Australia, the drought is worsening, capital city water supplies are deteriorating and the beginning of the bushfire season does not bode well. The latest CSIRO assessment highlights the risk of continuing climatic deterioration.

…We now face nothing less than a global emergency. We must rapidly reduce carbon emissions and encourage alternative energy sources, far faster than either government or opposition are prepared to acknowledge, and begin preparations for a global oil shortage.

This is not an extreme view; the extremists are those in government and business who have been in denial for the past decade, and in the process have frittered away our ability to plan a timely response.

…These challenges are daunting but with sound leadership we can successfully design a sustainable future.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Bali in early December is the crunch point. “Aspirational goals” must be banished for the fiction they are and serious binding commitments made to tackle climate change. In preparation, an Australian government should take the following immediate steps: …

Ian Dunlop was formerly an international oil, gas and coal industry executive. He is deputy convener of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil.
(23 October 2007)
Contributor David Bell writes:
If only the media focussed on asking both leaders the big questions rather than focussing on focus groups and worms we as a country would be all better off. Thankfully the real worms were in the soil doing real work improving soil productivity the night of the debate.

New Zealand Aims to be World’s First Carbon Neutral Nation

Josie Howitt, WorldChanging
New Zealand has declared its aim to be carbon neutral in electrical energy by 2025, in stationary manufacturing energy in 2030 and in transport energy by 2040.

The New Zealand government has a history of leadership in sustainable energy planning already signaled its intention to be a leader in carbon neutrality when it announced its Emissions Trading Scheme in September. The October launch of the New Zealand Energy Strategy to 2050, titled Powering our Future: Towards a sustainable low emissions energy system, has provided further detail of the steps.

The strategy includes plans for substantial reductions in emissions, along with carbon offsetting projects such as increasing national forest area by 250,000 hectares by 2020. By 2025, the goal is to obtain 90 percent of all electricity from renewable sources.
(22 October 2007)

Swiss vote goes green with climate change

Peter Capella, AFP
Landslides, floods and storms have taken their toll on Switzerland’s political climate, turning the Greens into the fastest growing force in the Alpine nation ahead of Sunday’s general election.

… “Environmental issues are one of the two most important issues for the Swiss electorate,” said political scientist Pascal Sciarini. The other is immigration, the far-right Swiss People’s Party’s territory.

Mountainous Switzerland’s exposure to changing climate patterns has produced snow shortages in economically-important Alpine resorts, deadly landslides and costly floods in towns and cities in recent years.

But analysts also point to the success in recent years of elected Green officials in the country’s powerful regional governments and city executives, especially Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich, all of them cross-party coalitions.

They carved out a reputation as pragmatic managers and often helped turn around budget deficits, turning a single-issue party founded less than three decades ago into a credible governing force.
(18 October 2007)