Sunday 29 March 2020


The “climate wars” are far from over in Australia.  The Labor Party’s commitment to a zero net emissions target for 2050 has predicably drawn fire from the Federal Government which claims that the cost of this is too great. 

Again, predictably, the Federal Government forgets that the 2050 target is regarded as necessary by the IPCC scientists to keep temperature increases below three degrees Celsius. Also it does not appear to understand – again predictably – that there is a cost, which is likely to be very great, of doing nothing. 

 Furthermore it does not appear to recognise that all Australian State Governments have already committed to the 2050 target and will be doing the heavy lifting while it continues on its mindless do-nothing path.

Leading businesses are already committing to a 2050 zero net emissions target.  A recent example is global resources giant Rio Tinto. It plans to spend US$1 billion over the next 5 years to reduce its carbon emissions and is committed to a 15% reduction of current emissions by 2030.

Rio’s CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques gave the example of what was planned for one of its Pilbara operations. An investment of around US$100 million would provide a 34 MW solar photovoltaic plant and a battery system of 12 MW per hour storage system.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, speaking at an Informa conference of energy executives,  strongly criticised the Canberra political debate about net zero emissions saying it was false and misleading because the target was not something that was optional.

He said, “The fires of this last summer will seem like a very, very mild experience compared to what a three degrees Celsius (warmer) world will look like.”

He believes we have the engineering and economics to move to a zero emissions energy sector which will deliver cheaper and cleaner and reliable energy.

Moving to zero net emissions obviously relies on other sectors of the economy such as transport and agriculture as well as energy. 

The pressure on the Federal Government to take effective action in the national interest will continue to increase in coming months.

            - Leonie Blain

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on March 2,  2020.    

Tuesday 10 March 2020


In predictable fashion, following the twin disasters of drought and fire, the usual vested interests pop up and start agitating to be allowed into our national parks. Of course, these timber and grazing interest proposals offer to do us all a favour, claiming logging and grazing will reduce fuel, and thus make us safe from fires.

Other business enterprises must be envious. It's like the local hardware store asking to be allowed to expand into the local town hall during an economic downturn, or a second hand car dealership taking over a convenient sports field to save money on rent. After all, these are public facilities, just like national parks, the only difference being that parks bring billions of tourism and leisure dollars to the economy each year.

Completely ignored in this campaign to access national parks, is the fact that they are set up for conservation purposes, a place where flora and fauna which are threatened with extinction will have an opportunity to survive. They're not there to be cut down and smashed by huge industrial machines, or trampled and browsed by uncontrolled herds of cattle.

Overlooked is the fact that few national parks are fenced and there would be no way to control stock once let loose, or are the long-suffering taxpayers expected to cover that cost as well? Instead stock will be free to destroy threatened plants, trample up and down creek banks causing massive erosion in the process, and free do stir up mud and defecate in the pristine creeks and streams, often the source of urban drinking water.

Both these industries cause massive environmental damage in the general community. At this crucial time, when we should be doing all in our power to increase vegetation to store carbon, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, one is clear-felling forests, while the other is belching out massive amounts of methane.

Let's show common sense, keep these greedy hands off national parks, and start properly resourcing the parks service so that these priceless assets can be properly managed for the public interest, and for future generations to enjoy.

            - John Edwards

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on February 24,  2020.