As the convenor of the Australian Greens has just said, "perhaps the only thing more despairing than the science is the current politics of climate change". And it looks like Tim Colebatch in "The Age" agrees, with his article "A Race to the Bottom":
DAY in, day out, Malcolm Turnbull and his colleagues have been slamming the Government for ''reckless spending'', ''spending like drunken sailors''. Every day they have demanded spending cuts - until Sunday, when they demanded more spending: tens of billions of dollars more.
The spending the Opposition objects to is going to schools, public housing, rail or roads. The spending it wants to increase would go to selected companies - mining firms, coal-fired power stations, energy-intensive manufacturing, food processors - in the form of free permits to pollute.
The point of emissions trading is to drive change - make it more expensive to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and give companies and individuals an incentive to switch to cleaner ways of doing things.
Cleaner alternatives? We've got them in spadefuls. You want to reduce emissions, and save taxpayers money? Start here.
But what are Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull planning? They want to reward the dirty coal-fired stations. Rudd has offered $3.6 billion of free permits to existing generators. Not enough, says Turnbull: give them $10 billion worth, and keep it till 2025!
Their excuse is that this will help generators finance cleaner power stations. But if that's the goal, let's give a 10 or 20 per cent subsidy to build clean power stations - not free permits to dirty ones.
There is an alternative, but don't expect to read too much about it in the papers:
Where the Rudd Government's CPRS - the Continue Polluting Regardless Scheme - locks in failure on the climate crisis by ignoring the science and sandbagging old polluters at the expense of the sunrise industries, the Greens' Safe Climate Bill gives us a real chance of success by aiming for the goal we know we need to achieve and then setting out how to get there.
The Bill redirects government funding from roads into public transport, stops logging of our native forests, retrofits the nation's homes (reducing power bills) and ends the multi-billion dollar subsidies to polluting industries, directing the money to renewables.
It is science driven legislation, a 'Snowy Hydro' for the 21st century, and gives us a solid platform to take to the next election. To those in despair at the major parties' denial and to those grassroots campaigners still fighting for change, it ought give hope that there is a considered plan for making the climate safe.
That's what I'll be voting for!