Radical action on climate change was central to Labor’s 2007 election promises. The environment was second only to the scrapping John Howard’s Work Choices legislation. Not only has Rudd failed to get rid of the anti-worker laws, but the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is a joke.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Climate Change minister Penny Wong, have set the dismal target of a 5 per cent cut in green house gas emissions by 2020. Most scientists claim we need cuts of between 60 and 80 per cent within the next ten years in order to prevent major climatic change.
Labor’s entire plan to address climate change rests on carbon trading. Carbon trading, as the Socialist Party has stated in previous articles, actually delays real climate action at the cost of both jobs and the environment.
Beneath the gloss of emissions trading schemes are massive profits for big business. Carbon trading has become an industry within itself and is worth billions of dollars. Under emissions trading, the federal government will allocate permits to big industrial polluters so they can trade ‘pollution’ amongst themselves. These permits essentially amount to “buying the right to pollute”. Effective action on climate change involves adopting and supporting policies that reduce emissions at the source as opposed to offsetting or trading.
In Australia the handouts amount to in excess of $9 billion in free permits to some of Australia’s wealthiest polluting companies. Not only are emissions trading schemes ineffective in tackling the urgent crisis facing the planet, they are a new way in which to make the poor pay. As a great recession looms, working people cannot afford the predicted 30 per cent electricity price rises as big business pass on the costs of the scheme.
Real action on climate change is actually an opportunity for urgently needed job creation. The Socialist Party has explained that far more jobs could be created in new green technologies. For instance, the expansion of environmentally-friendly public transport would create far more jobs both during construction as well as during operation. Factories that are closing should be retooled to manufacture solar panels and wind turbines for environmentally friendly electricity generation.
Emissions trading schemes are proven failures. For instance, the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) introduced to the European Union had little effect on reducing carbon emissions and energy efficiency, while British oil companies BP and Shell, made millions through the sale of their carbon credits.
Despite the election mandate for radical action on climate change, Labor continues to have its policies dictated by big business. This is why they are reliant on market based measures that provide no solution to the climate crisis.
If you are serious about addressing climate change you need to take on big business and their ability to make profits from polluting. The only viable solution is to bring the mining and energy sectors into public ownership and under democratic workers control. We need planned investment into new green technologies and not more subsidies to the big polluters.
The facts are that you can not control what you don’t own. The only way that the big polluters can be stopped, and that we can cut emissions, is if they are under public control. It is the anarchy of the unfettered market that has failed to provide a stable economy and it is these same ‘market forces’ that are incapable of protecting our environment.
By Kylie McGregor