Knowing as we do the urgent need to reduce greenhouse emissions to ensure we avoid the impacts of catastrophic climate change, the Australian government's internal wrangling over the cost of energy is depressing to say the least.
We see daily images of the deadly effects of climate change, which intensifies and prolongs storms, droughts, wildfires, and floods. In fact the US reportedly spent as much on disaster management in 2017 alone, as it did in 30 years from 1980 to 2010.
However, we are now becoming aware of other impacts. “Climate disruption” is becoming the leading threat to our built environment, an accelerant of armed conflict, and a leading cause of mass migration.
So why has an issue that should demand a united response become so intensely divisive?
The right wing's ideological opposition to anything proposed by the left, and vice versa, regardless of how illogical that opposition sometimes appears, is stalling what little progress that has been made to date. The fear tactics, famously employed by Tony Abbott over the carbon tax are now being redeployed, this time focusing on rising electricity prices. Of course it's all the fault of renewable energy, and those misguided souls who think coal burning is dirty, unhealthy, and a driver of climate change.
If electricity costs are so critical, why did governments sell off the networks in the first instance?
Sure, electricity prices have risen sharply, but how bad are they really? For example, how many of us complain about that indispensable daily $5 cappuccino, when for the same amount everything in the home can be activated, 24/7, by the simple flick of a switch?
If the government is serious about giving relief from rising prices, why not look at fuel prices? Through necessity, petrol costs many rural Australians far more than electricity, but of course a large chunk of that cost is tax, so a scare campaign over that might backfire badly.
Climate change is real, and needs real action to lower emissions, and to achieve that we must have bipartisanship from all sides if the political spectrum.
- John Edwards
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on July 30, 2018.