Cloudy with a chance of climate debate

parisclimat

With the United Nation’s December Paris Climate Change Conference looming, climate change campaigners have been busy giving us a sense of what to expect from public debate over the next five months.

The Fairfax papers this week ran a “Climate for Change” campaign to raise the stakes and scare policy makers and the public into supporting higher Australian CO2 emissions reduction targets, highlighted by an article on how bread will shrink by 2050 due to higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The Pope weighed in with an encyclical on climate change which talks about the environment, banks, failings of the market, and mining pollution amongst related topics.

Even the former head of the UN, Kofi Annan, co-authored a piece for the Washington Post which noted the low energy usage of people in sub-Saharan Africa, how 600 million people in this region do not have access to electricity and that the solution was for Africa to “leapfrog” the use of fossil fuels and go straight to renewables.

However the IPA has been out there flying the flag for sensible energy policies, and on Monday released new research which showed how 82 million Indians could have access to a regular and reliable supply of electricity each year if Australia were to develop its Galilee Basin coal export potential.

According to the World Health Organisation, over 3 billion people still cook and heat their homes with materials like wood, crop leftovers and dung, and over 4 million people per year die from resulting illnesses. In India alone, at least 300 million people have no access to electricity and around 815 million people still rely on these types of fuels for cooking. Australian coal can make a real difference to living standards in the world’s biggest democracy.

Another article from the Washington Post, from 2 June 2015 also explained how Europe’s renewable energy policies are apparently paying for people in the US to chop down perfectly good trees to feed power stations in England.

But the news from Europe is not all bad – on Monday the UK’s new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd announced an end to UK government subsidies for onshore wind power facilities with the speech including a quote that should be framed and sent to every State and Federal policymaker in Australia as well: “Government support is designed to help technologies stand on their own two feet, not to encourage a permanent reliance on subsidy.”

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