Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Rising fears of global warming

The June results of the Lowy Institute poll found a rise in concern about climate change, against the background of a global absence of any serious plan to address the problem. The current government aims for a mere 5% reduction in emissions over 1990 levels.

By David Elliott, Socialist Party

The release of greenhouse gases by human activity is warming the planet. This warming has been directly observed, and is expected to lead to climatic changes that will displace tens to hundreds of millions of people and wreak havoc on human civilisation.

Most people support taking action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, governments have responded with carbon trading schemes and private incentives. These fit the capitalist inclination to use the crisis to create a new market in trading pollution. The schemes have shown themselves to be ineffective, especially in conditions of recession, and have been plagued with fraud and manipulation of the system.

The alternative is public investment into renewable energy to entirely replace fossil fuels. A study comissioned by the Beyond Zero organisation found that Australia could supply 100% of its stationary energy needs with solar and wind power within ten years, costing the equivalent of three-fifths of annual mining industry profits each year. With greater access to public transport, and public control of the auto manufacturing industry, we could add the elimination of fossil-fuel burning transport to this achievement.

Right now in places like Melbourne and Sydney, campaigns against private toll roads are calling for expanded public transport. With greater mass participation this can be won. We need to build a mass movement that fights for genuine action on climate change. Such a movement needs to look towards socialist solutions that can guarantee the investment and democratic planning necessary to save the planet.