In 2007 Rudd called climate change the greatest moral challenge of our time , and how right he was.

It has been a moral dilemma for him and his party ever since, as Labor have dithered over the political expediency of action or inaction on the issue. Rudd desperately needed a result to take to Copenhagen and negotiated away much of his proposed ETS, only to see Turnbull rolled and the deal axed by his own inner circle.

Abbott chooses the Ian Plimer the world has stopped warming , but aware the electorate wants at least a token effort, he promised a 5% reduction on 2000 figures by 2020. He could not say how the scheme would be funded but who cares? His protection of vested interests, funding support for any anti government advertising and spouting of self-righteous fury that Gillard established her climate committee demonstrate his real agenda. Greg Hunt branded the committee repugnantas the Right grabs at ‘legal’ straws to delay progress, while they desperately work to bring on a new election before the Greens take their Senate seats in July. Election results and the wishes of the people, and that means all of us, be damned!

While Labor has long held the view that we do need to act, Gillard has put forward other action-delaying excuses and “lemons” such as Cash for Clunkers , based only on gaining popularity for Labor, not science. The policy fact sheet list of ‘suitable’ replacement cars includes the Toyota Prado 4WD and Hilux 4X4 Ute, demonstrating the distinctly unambitious efficiency target. At a cost of $394 million it would be cheaper and more efficient to end destruction of forests: In the US, a similar program puts the cost of carbon at $237 per tonne, nearly ten times more than the expected price for carbon credits, while a report from Sweden states that “next to energy efficiency, halting forest loss and degradation is the most cost-effective method for mitigating climate change”. The cash for Australia’s program is not new funding committed to the issue, having been redirected from other climate change initiatives, rendering them less effective. The Liberal’s generously give 50 reasons why it is a dud, including “planting permanent forests reduces CO2 at $26 per tonne” – but still they are not prepared to end cutting them down in the first place!

The Australian government has been accused of cheating at Copenhagen by “selectively counting some agricultural activities” while insisting other, less developed, countries should account for 100% of their emissions. The carbon in our forests is still only being estimated, but as about 200 tonnes of carbon per hectare is lost into the atmosphere in a forestry burn, there is potential for conserving an enormous amount of carbon with the end of native forest logging. Mature Tasmanian forests can store up to 1,200 tonnes of carbon per hectare but “re-growth forests on 80 year rotations … store … 400 tonnes of carbon per hectare.”

New forests do not produce a net carbon offset for 22 years, and with global average temperatures having risen 0.5 degrees Celsius since the 1970s and accelerating, that is far too long. Forestry Tasmania refuses to openly debate opposing views and cites commercial in confidence to avoid scrutiny. But we know an end to native forest logging would cut Australia’s emissions by 20 per cent. With the pulp mill a major sticking point in negotiations, but still “no social licence to build a pulp mill … in the Tamar Valley”, it is difficult to imagine how any common ground can be achieved on the subject of Tasmania’s forests. Whatever comes out of negotiations, it must be profitable, socially acceptable, sustainable forestry industry.

Christine Milne met with ABARE, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, in 2009 who had sought a meeting on their latest modelling of the economic costs of climate action”. With the bar on climate change mitigation dangerously low, she was astonished that their climate modelling allowed a minimum of 575 parts per million – “a level that … would trigger catastrophic climate change”. Her suggestion of “scenarios that have some hope of constraining global warming to merely dangerous levels … as low as 350 ppm” got the response “that would be a different world!” Which is exactly what we should be trying to achieve.

World demand for baseload power is the mantra recited by polluters, claiming it cannot be provided by renewables. If they had their way, renewable energy would always have to remain a niche market, rather than achieve its true potential of becoming a set of mainstream energy supply technologies. The myth has been exploded in “promising prospects for reliable and continuous power from renewables within the next two to four decades. Storage problems have been solved by Spain which sells its surplus of 4,000 megawatts of baseload power, using salt solution to provide base load power all day and night.

Gillard reduced her credibility this year by her polticial preference for pleasing the big end of town, but mining giant BHP Billiton boss, Marius Kloppers, said that a carbon tax was inevitable and Australia needed to take a lead role on climate change.

Grass roots supporters and local councils have initiated effective proposals, demonstrating how to connect the dots between taking action on climate change and achieving a sustainable, economically viable future. CSIRO’s Energymark project is one, expected to play an important role in working towards environmental sustainability from the grass roots level. Beyond Zero Emissions has a plan for zero emissions by 2020. If all such initiatives were linked by an umbrella of Federal government planning, we could have a goal and know how to get there.

The recent election gave more seats to Independents and Greens, all unaligned parliamentary members. Free of focus groups, the hope is they will bring a morality, courage and resolve not frequently displayed in our parliament. But will their efforts be scuttled by Abbott and his big business mates who ignore the future of this abused planet as they concentrate their tunnel vision on short term bottom lines and personal political goals?

ABC Online:

New method predicts a hotter and drier state

Posted 2 hours 24 minutes ago
Smokey sunset over Derwent River

Scientists predict temperatures will rise by almost 3 degrees. (User submitted: Brendan Breen)

New climate research is predicting a hotter and drier Tasmania by the end of the century, if there is no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

In an Australian first, scientists are using global climate modelling to predict climate change in 10 square kilometre blocks throughout Tasmania.

Over the next 90 years, it is predicted there will be more dry days and when it does rain the falls will be heavier.

The temperature is also forecast to rise by almost 3 degrees under current green house gas emission levels and 1 point 6 degrees at reduced levels.

Reseacher Doctor Tony Press says the findings are surprising.

“You can only explain the amount of temperature change that’s happened in Tasmania over the last 50 years by taking into acount the greenhouse gas emmission,” he said.

The report will be released at the Climate Futures for Tasmania Summit today.

Read the full story HERE

Age, Thursday: Greener clunkers plan urged