The last few days have demonstrated just how far out of touch some in the Australian media and political incumbency are from critical climate change events happening around the world.
Yesterday The Australian Financial Review condemned “eco-activists” for the costs they are supposedly inflicting on the Australian community (Eco-activism is a major cost to the community, 6th August 2015) after the courts overturned Federal Government approval of the Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin.
Instead of condemnation, these activists should be congratulated them for their responsibility in trying prevent substantial economic damage and wasted assets, which will be the outcome if the Galilee Basin coal developments are allowed to proceed.
Predictably we now have the Prime Minister’s Captain’s call. Coal, we are repeatedly told, is essential for the future of humanity, and for the alleviation of poverty in countries like India.
Every other consideration, must now be put aside in the interests of these major projects proceeding, Not just in the Galilee, but also the Shenhua Watermark mine in the Liverpool Plains, coal seam gas everywhere, and a host of others.
The preservation of biodiversity, such as the snakes and skinks in Galilee is extremely important, but the real issue is climate change.
Clearly the incumbency does not understand the implications of the latest climate science and evidence of climate change impact around the world.
Climate change is happening far faster and more extensively than officially acknowledged, largely driven by human carbon emissions.
We are experiencing substantial economic and social damage at the 1degC warming which has already occurred relative to pre-industrial levels, let alone the additional 1degC to which we are probably committed by virtue of historic emissions. The official limit of 2degC warming is not safe, it is now highly dangerous.
If the Galilee Basin and Watermark are developed it will have catastrophic climate consequences, akin to other large high-carbon expansions such as the Canadian Tar sands.
Quite simply, as the IMF, IEA, World Bank and other authorities state, these developments cannot be allowed to happen.
Poverty will not be alleviated with these developments, but created.
Have the incumbency “experts” thought about the extreme events happening right now on the Indian Subcontinent – unprecedented heat last week, unprecedented rainfall now, to which climate change is contributing significantly?
Not to mention extensive damage in North America from extreme drought and fires as the El Nino intensifies, which we will no doubt experience shortly.
Those who lead economic debate in this country need to wake up to the fact that climate change will be the factor having the greatest impact on the Australian economy and society from now, to the point that it will fundamentally change our economic and business models.
It should be at the top of the agenda for the forthcoming National Reform Summit being promoted by both The Australian and The Australian Financial Review newspapers, but it is a fair bet it does not even feature.
This Captain’s Call, if the Prime Minister gets his way, will be the biggest economic disaster in Australia’s history and will fundamentally undermine our National Security. Sounder heads must prevail.
Ian Dunlop was formerly an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chair of the Australian Coal Association and CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is a Member of the Club of Rome.
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