Kings of Convenience

You’ll recall a recent post where I wrote about Australia’s carbon emissions trading scheme, not more than 3 weeks ago.  Just when it seemed like Australia had a plan and the world’s largest per-capita carbon emitter was going to take an important step for both the future of the planet, citizens and business, PM Kevin Rudd has now announced a delay of at least a year.  Citing the “worst economic crisis since the great depression”, Mr. Rudd pushed the roll out of the carbon trading plan to 2011, admitting that he has been under great pressure from the resource sector.

Pointing to economic difficulties as a reason to not adopt necessary and potentially revolutionary (for the good of people, planet and how we do business) is a move not unique to Australia. Perhaps the most famous nation to adopt this philosophy was the United States during the Bush administration, which refused to discuss curbing carbon emissions as it would allegedly damage the economy.

So despite the environmental and social platform that helped sweep Kevin Rudd into office, despite the clear evidence from the world’s leading scientists that climate change is real and that it is vital that we launch what many have refferred to as the Green New Deal, we still have leaders and governments who worry that it isn’t a convenient time for their political careers or their national economies.  Nevermind the countless jobs that would be created, the positive environmental impact, and the need to take action sooner rather than later – The Australian government thinks the world can wait.

Carbon Trading in Australia

The federal government of Australia has proposed a law that 20% of the nation’s power supply must come from renewable energy, by 2020.  Some estimates from the alternative energy industry say this will require $60 billion in new investments.

And they’re not alone, as Pacific Hydro CEO Rob Grant explained on a recent edition of ABC Radio National’s Background Briefing:

Europe has endorsed a 20% target, many of the States in the USA have significant renewable energy targets in the order of 20%, and countries in South America where we are also operating have 15% to 20% renewable energy targets, and China has a 20% renewable energy target. So they’re generating a significant amount of demand for new capacity and the capital that’s required to invest in that will indeed be significant.

Australia is the largest, per capita, carbon emitter on the planet.  Which brings us to the role of Carbon Trading, Emissions Trading, Cap and Trade, Carbon Abatement, etc., in the federal governments goal of reducing emissions while pushing for more alternative energy.  The debate over whether 20% by 2020 is a big enough push, and whether or not the government’s carbon trading plan will be effective.

These are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is discussed in this program. Highly recommended listening.