<a href="https://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/blogs/leon#">The Business of Green</a>

The Business of Green

Money matters in the green world, by Leon Gettler.

Australia: the climate change laggard

Credit: sxc.hu

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Australia is falling further in the battle to fight climate change. Critics of our climate change policy say that Australia is acting ahead of the rest of the world and should wait. Nothing could be further from the truth. Climate economist Ross Gaurnaut has just released an update of his report to the Federal Government, pointing out that Australia has slipped further behind the world in dealing with climate change. The floods, fires and cyclones are getting worse and Garnaut has a simple message: “We ain’t seen nothing yet”. For the rest of the world, Australia is the canary in the coal mine.

Australia might have shown the rest of the world how to navigate its way through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, but when it comes to climate change this country is no world leader. Last week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard axed green programs to pay for the flood levy. Jettisoned programs include the much derided “cash for clunkers” scheme and the green car innovation fund. The government has also reduced or deferred some carbon capture and storage funding. It’s a strange decision. As Greens deputy leader Christine Milne says, “It beggars belief that the government would choose to cut climate change programs like solar flagships, energy efficiency and the solar hot water rebate to fund disaster relief when such disasters will be made worse by climate change.” Of course, many of these schemes are politically controversial so you could say the Labor government is trying to save its own skin, not the planet.

But what a contrast all that is with the rest of the world. In his State of the Union address President Obama laid down a very clear goal: by 2035, 80 per cent of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. “Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all,’’ Obama said. Obama also set a target of having one million electric vehicles on US roads by 2015. And he made the commitment for direct investment and incentives for research in clean energy. Where would the money come from? By ending tax subsidies of about $US4 billion a year given to oil companies.

On the other side of the Atlantic, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger says Europe has to double its spending on renewables, taking it up from €35 billion to €70 billion.

Meanwhile, China is leading the way in solar energy.  As reported here, China’s solar market has grown annually by about 30 per cent on average over the past decade and its solar photovoltaic industry employs nearly 300,000 people at more than 580 enterprises. China is now a world leader in the global solar photovoltaic industry.

Where does that leave Australia? As Climate Change minister Greg Combet says, we are lagging behind. The first step to catching up is to have a carbon price. That is likely to be a long, protracted and politically contentious process. And after that, there’s still a long way to go.