On Tuesday, Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne delivered a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra. In it, Milne distanced her party from the two major parties, saying it was the Australian Greens, alone, who were “standing with the people, for the environment and for a safe climate.”
Milne also quoted US environmental activist Robert Kennedy Junior, from an interview with RenewEconomy published earlier this month: “Wherever you see large-scale pollution, you will also see the subversion of democracy, you will see the compromise of public officials, the capture of the agencies they are supposed to protect; they become sock puppets of the industries they are supposed to regulate. You see that in the political system, the kowtowing of the politicians who become indentured servants in the US and in Canada.” This, said Milne, “is exactly what has happened here in Australia.”
The following is an excerpt of Christine Milne’s NPC speech:
“But the biggest opportunity cost of the mining industry in capturing the Labor party and the Liberal National Coalition is that they are all actively preventing the transition to the sustainable, secure, happy and prosperous society and the economic framework necessary to underpin it in a world on track for 4 degrees.
They still don’t get the fact that we live in a society not an economy and that economic tools driving the fossil fuel age have to change because they are not delivering what society wants. Instead, they have delivered market failure and accelerating global warming. As IMF boss Christine Lagarde said recently, “Unless we take action on climate change future generations will be roasted, toasted fried and grilled.”
A nation can either be serious about climate change, serious about the transition in the economy and serious about getting the huge opportunities that are there in 100% renewable energy, in new solar power, in supporting communities as they put photovoltaic panels on their roofs, or you give in to the fossil fuel industry
As British Prime Minister David Cameron has recently said “it is the countries that prioritise green energy that will secure the biggest share of jobs and growth in a global low-carbon sector set to be worth $4 trillion by 2015.”
But both the Coalition and the Labor Party are exposing the Australian economy to huge risk as the world moves to reduce emissions. Already the Chinese have capped coal at 4 billion tonnes by 2015 and the Indians are likely to leapfrog the age of centralised grids and large fossil fuel generators in favour of decentralised, localised energy. If Australia continues down the path of massive coal and coal port expansion, we risk stranded assets, jobs collapse, dislocation on a grand scale and super funds losing badly. Fossil fuel companies cannot burn all of their reserves if the world is to have any chance of reining in climate change.
And don’t we know it in Australia. People have suffered from the extreme weather events of this summer – the horrific bushfires in my home state of Tasmania and NSW and Victoria and the devastating floods returning in Qld and the heat waves across the country.
Refusing to acknowledge the link between the intensity of these extreme weather events and climate change; and the link between subsidising the mining and export of these fossil fuels and a four degree global temperature trajectory is studied ignorance. To acknowledge these links would be to break them and the fossil fuel industry will do everything in its power to maintain the status quo.
Labor cannot have it both ways. They cannot argue that they take the climate science seriously and at the same time subsidise massive mining and export of fossil fuels to the tune of $10 billion knowing that they are condemning our children and their grandchildren to a world of conflict, scarcity and climate disaster.
When Australia takes over the G20 presidency at the end of the year, its continued support of fossil fuel subsidies will be at embarrassing odds with the G20’s commitment to phase them out.
But Tony Abbott and the Liberal National Coalition are right there beside the government backing these decisions and indicating they would go even further. Tony Abbott wants to deliver Gina Rinehart’s wildest dreams of different tax zones to benefit her even more, undermine labour standards and conditions, bring in more 457 visa holders to exploit, dam the rivers, dig even bigger mines with even less environmental oversight.
Tony Abbott and the coalition are the party of the past. They are not equipped to deal with the Australia of the future. Mr Abbott has pledged to abandon emissions trading, abolish the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and other elements of the Clean Energy package including the biodiversity fund and compensation to low income earners.
It’s time that the critical mass of Australian businesses which now depend on the transition to a low carbon future stand up and be counted. Get over denial and stop cowering because, just as the Abbott opposition is destroying business confidence now, an Abbott government will try to destroy your business, will wipe out the fastest growing innovative business and jobs growth sector. That is why the Greens must be in balance of power in the Senate.
Labor, Liberal and Nationals have made their choice. It is for the big miners and the green light to environmental destruction.”
To read the full speech, or watch the video, click here.