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Action Alert: Join Bushfires and Scientists in Condemning Australian Climate Change Policy

Australia must stop being a climate change laggard. Given severe drought and massive wildfires, the Rudd Government's target to reduce carbon emissions by 5% by 2020 is dangerously insufficient.

By Climate Ark, a project of EcoInternet - April 18, 2009

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Some mixed news on this campaign. Bowing to industry pressure the Prime Minister has delayed introduction of carbon markets for a year. But as a sop to environmentalists he has said he may consider higher carbon cut targets if nations agree to a deal at end of year in Copenhagen. The alert below appears to have aided our cause somewhat, though delays in an already inadequate policy are unacceptable.

The Australian government is failing to establish and implement a rigorous climate change policy adequate to respond to the global climate emergency. The Rudd Labor Government came to power in Australia in late 2007 on the back of widespread hopes that it would act decisively on global warming. A year and a half later, those hopes are in tatters.

The Rudd Government’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) aims to cut emissions by 5 percent by 2020 and 60 percent by 2050.  The Government’s cowardly response to its greatest challenge has been explicitly condemned by climate scientists and implicitly condemned by recent devastating climate enhanced bushfires which tragically killed 200 people.

Australia's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are among the highest in the world. Australia's economy is based heavily upon the deadly coal fossil fuel industry which exerts undue political influence. Unsustainable Australian lifestyles including native forest clearing and wasteful water use threaten their continent's fragile ecosystems, and the drought and intensified bushfires are a precursor of Australian and global ecosystem collapse to come.

Temperatures in Australia are now expected to rise by as much as 8°C (15°F) in the next century with cataclysmic results. Over the coming decades these soaring temperatures will result in water supplies for millions failing, agriculture becoming unviable over huge areas, rising sea levels destroying substantial coastal areas, powerful extreme weather events including super cyclones and bushfires, and countless environmental refugees overwhelming Australia's ability to cope. Indeed this and more is happening now.

Leading Australian climate scientists have told the Senate Select Committee on Climate Policy that the Rudd Government’s emission reduction targets are inadequate and are much lower than those required of developed nations. The government’s own climate change advisor, Professor Garnaut told the inquiry that it might be better to scrap it entirely and design a new one from scratch.

The Government’s weak targets come despite widespread agreement that the catastrophic bushfires that devastated areas of the Australian state of Victoria this February were due to climate change. The fires, which killed over 200 people and destroyed 750 homes, are sign of what Australia, indeed the World, can expect in the future. The link between climate change and the increased incidence of bushfires in Australia is confirmed by Senior NSW Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) climatologist Perry Wiles, the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre, the federal science research organisation the CSIRO, 2007 Australian of the Year Tim Flannery, and many other observers.

Climate change is here now; it is not something that will happen in an indeterminate future, yet Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s response has been a farcical commitment to a 5% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. The flawed ETS would allow big polluters to escape making significant cuts by funding dubious carbon reduction projects in other countries and by offering them generous credits.

Given imminent strengthened regulation of greenhouse gases in the United States and Europe, it is time for Australia to embrace sufficient climate change policies including committing to ambitious targets that will require ending its use and export of coal, and stopping native forest clearing.

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Climate change caused bushfire in Australia
Australians has much to lose from abrupt, run-away climate change - including their lives from severe drought and raging bushfires  (link)

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