Australian PM Kevin Rudd gave a speech on climate change at the Lowy Institute for International Policy on ‘Australia, the region and the world: the challenges ahead’ last Friday. I ran across the text of the speech today and was beyond impressed. This man, a mere politician, truly seems motivated by this issue. He really seems to get what is at stake, what needs to be done and what the political forces opposing action on climate change are. And he quotes from Kenny Rogers! That would win millions of red state voters here in the wild west. (You gave us Men at Work, we give you Kenny Rogers in return).
…we are just 31 days away from the Copenhagen Conference of Parties – an historic moment to forge a global deal to put a global price on carbon.
Today we are approaching the crossroads. Both these policies are reaching crunch time.
When you strip away all the political rhetoric, all the political excuses, there are two stark choices – action or inaction. The resolve of the Australian Government is clear – we choose action, and we do so because Australia’s fundamental economic and environmental interests lie in action.
Action now. Not action delayed.
As one of the hottest and driest continents on earth, Australia’s environment and economy will be among the hardest and fastest hit by climate change if we do not act now. The scientific evidence from the CSIRO and other expert bodies have outlined the implications for Australia, in the absence of national and global action on climate change:
In Australia, we must pass our Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme – to deliver certainty for business at home and to play our part abroad in any global agreement to bring greenhouse gases down.
President Obama in the United States is also working hard so that he can take strong commitments to Copenhagen. And let us never forget that in the US, as in Australia, under both our respective previous governments, zero action was taken on bringing in cap and trade schemes meaning that the governments that replaced them began with a zero start. Other countries are striving to build domestic political momentum in their own countries to take strong commitments into the global deal.
The opponents of action on climate change fall into one of three categories.
It is time to be totally blunt about the agenda of the climate change skeptics in all their colours – some more sophisticated than others.
It is to destroy the CPRS at home, and it is to destroy agreed global action on climate change abroad, and our children’s fate – and our grandchildren’s fate – will lie entirely with them.
It’s time to remove any polite veneer from this debate. The stakes are that high.
Seven times the Liberals and Nationals have promised to make a decision on their policy on climate change – and seven times they have delayed.
It is an endless cycle of delay – and I am sure that with December almost upon us, the eighth excuse cannot be far away – which will be to wait until the next year or the year after until all the rest of the world has acted at which time Australia will act.
What absolute political cowardice.
What an absolute failure of leadership.
What an absolute failure of logic.
The inescapable logic of this approach is that if every nation makes the decision not to act until others have done so, then no nation will ever act.
The immediate and inevitable consequence of this logic – if echoed in other countries – is that there will be no global deal as each nation says to its domestic constituencies that they cannot act because others have not acted.
The result is a negotiating stalemate. A permanent standoff.
And this of course is the consistent ambition of all three groups of do-nothing climate change deniers.