National and state governments must intensify efforts to tackle climate change if Australia is to remain economically competitive with strong employment, said Victoria’s peak environment group.
Despite being a non-signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, which comes into force today, Australia must commit to an emission trading scheme and policies to increase renewable energies and lower energy consumption, said Environment Victoria.
“Foreign competitors are outstripping Australian businesses in energy-saving technologies and alternative energy sources. Australia is missing out. We must ensure we stem this hemorrhage before we become a backwater of the new, clean economy,” said EV’s Executive Director Marcus Godinho.
“The Howard Government has been shamelessly pro-coal in its response to global warming, stubbornly remaining with its head in the sand, and pandering to the needs of a few highly-polluting industries to the detriment of the rest of the country.
“These are industries who lobby for their own self-interest. But they are yet to foot the bill for their contribution to global warming. They don’t yet have to help farmers suffering drought or pay health bills from heatwaves or insurance costs from flooding.”
Mr Godinho said fighting climate change was not a matter of choice but necessity.
“In economic terms, the heartache from global warming is all too clear. The damage bill from this month’s freak storms cost Melbourne $150 million. Our most recent bushfires cost the state more than $100 million. Victoria’s agricultural sector is worth $8 billion – one dry season or even a drought and this figure shrinks by billions.”
The Bracks Government must also increase efforts to fight greenhouse pollution as Victorians were among the worst greenhouse polluters on the planet, he said.
“So far the Bracks Government has been confused in its response to climate change, showing leadership with wind farms and energy efficiency, but selling out these policies by propping up the coal industry, particularly Hazelwood power station – Australia’s worst greenhouse polluting power station.
“Climate change is the greatest threat to the health of our planet and it’s happening now. For the sake of our economy, our health, safety and our environment it is crucial Australia acts to cut greenhouse pollution.”
ALERT: EV will join other groups in protesting Australia’s inaction on climate change. 9.30am, 16 Feb 2005, steps of the Victorian Parliament Building, Melbourne.