Tag Archives: kevin rudd

An urgent message from Bolivia

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Steve and Naomi from Rising Tide reporting from Bolivia

Some countries around the world are feeling the effects of climate change more than others, yet most of us are unaware of these struggles. Australia is doing relatively well coping with the current effects of climate change for now, at least compared to some low lying island nations or communities reliant on the melt waters from glaciers.

This was made amazingly clear at the Bolivian hosted World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, April 2010. Throughout the conference, people spoke about losing human rights due to water shortages. Glacier-fed drinking water disappearing as global warming melts the snowy peaks away.

We learned that one of the glaciers in the Andes mountain chain, Chacaltaya was once a popular ski field, but has completely disappeared, years earlier than scientists predicted. And according to these same scientists, in the next 20-30 years most of the glaciers right across the Andes will go, affecting access to water for 70 million people.

One woman was very direct when talking us. “What can we do to stop this?

We considered Australia’s contribution to these climate problems. In Australia, we mine and burn coal as our number one energy source. We have some of the world’s largest per person carbon emissions due to our dirty energy supply. Even this seems insignificant compared to the coal we mine and export, releasing more CO2 than all of our domestic emissions combined.

Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter, and state and federal governments are planning to expand this deadly industry, building roads and railways so we can send the coal to the ports faster, and pushing for new mines to be opened. That is, unless we stop them.

After a little scratching of our heads we turned back to the woman, “We could paint a banner with a glacier-fed community that reads, Please Stop Mining Coal, Climate Change is Taking Our Water”.

There was no going back now. This woman’s question set us on a path high into the Andes Mountains in search of an appropriate community. We found ourselves in the meeting room of local NGO Aqua Sustentable (Water Sustainability) explaining our odd sounding idea to strangers we hoped could help us in our quest to share this message with Australians back home.

Our enthusiasm caught on and days later we took off further up the mountains with their team. Within three hours we arrived at the Khapi community, passing seemingly endless fields of fresh growing food along the way. We learned the Khapi community is made up of about 40 families, all working together to grow their food, live in mud brick homes and use the glacier-fed water supply that literally flows right past their houses.

Upon arriving at the community, we were greeted by 30 smiling faces at the primary school. To begin, we gave a short presentation about Australia (and our world famous kangaroos) the coal industry, renewable alternatives and our climate change work back home. We spoke in English, another woman translated into Spanish, and then another young man spoke in the local Aymara language. Luckily, the photographs projected up onto the wall told most of the story.

It wasn’t a fun story to tell. Photos from near our home in the Hunter Valley NSW, showed open cut coal mining. Tiny spots in the dark hole were revealed to be enormous trucks hauling tones upon tones of coal. Huge smoke stacks spewing dark clouds of pollution. The more we told the story, the more the reality of what is going on really hit us.

The children seemed glued to the slides, including the photos of Australian banners. When we explained our banner idea they all cheered with excitement. They now had a chance to paint their own.

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The kids loved it. We were very impressed with the way they concentrated to make the banner the best it could be. They were obviously very proud of their hard work, parading the banner around the community above their heads, laughing and carrying on.

They soon reached a special lookout where we could see the towering glacier in all its glory. Illimani.

After the laughter and joy we shared with the kids, it was sobering to hear the words of community leader Severino Cortez Bilbao. “Recently we’ve started thinking about our Illimani. Before it was pure white, right down to there. In the last 5 or 6 years it’s suffered badly, it’s all black. Some people don’t think about it, but we are thinking about it, we’re thinking about our children, those who will come after, because we’re already getting on, we may not see what happens later on. If Illimani dries up, there’ll be no water and no life, no life.

This experience turned out to be far more than a banner painting exercise. It was life changing. We knew a little of warming events in mountainous regions of the world, but it was something else to visit a community where their glacier and water supply is disappearing before their eyes.

The challenge to support climate affected communities and to encourage action against climate change and coal mining is a large one, but the smiles of those children with the most to loose will stick with us for a while yet.

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Federal Budget funds fossil fuels more than renewables

The Federal Budget, handed down yesterday by Treasurer Wayne Swan, contains no significant climate change initiatives, and reduces funding for several existing programs such as the water tank and greywater system rebates, water recycling and stormwater harvesting programs, Landcare and the Natural Heritage Trust.

The much reported $652 million for renewable energy represents a tiny proportion of Australia’s electricity consumption. This is so low as to be almost insignificant and pales in comparison with the call by over 40 organisations, including YCAN, for renewable energy funding at least as high as the national broadband network of $22 to $42 billion.

Funding for the fossil fuel industry is still higher under this budget than funding for renewable energy.

Below is a press release from the Victorian Climate Action Centre with some further information.


Kevin Rudd’s back flip on climate has not been addressed by Wayne Swan’s Budget, the Climate Action Centre said today.

“Australian’s angry and disappointed by Kevin Rudd’s recent back flip on climate change will not be mollified by this Budget,” said Damien Lawson, coordinator, Climate Action Centre.

“Labor has again failed to take an opportunity to make polluters accountable by putting a price on carbon and cutting subsidies to the coal industry.”

“While there is some new money for energy efficiency and renewable energy in the Budget, it is only $652.5 million over four years, well short of what is needed.”

“The money does not really start to flow until 2012 and there is little detail on how it will be spent.”

“And there is still more money in the Budget for the fossil industry than for climate change, in fact those chasing the clean coal pipe dream still get about as much as the renewable energy sector.”

“Elsewhere the government has slashed $200 million from its Green Car Fund, and failed to put any money into the electric vehicle revolution this country needs.”

“There is no vision for a zero carbon economy in this Budget just more of the same quarry vision that we had under the Howard government.”

“The public will see through this attempt to green wash the Labor government after a hit in the polls because of its climate back flips.”

Rudd’s Hypocrisy

The Rudd Government now officially has no practical policy to tackle the climate emergency (just like the Howard Government).

This video is an excerpt from a recent ABC report. It speaks for itself.

GetUp is asking people to vote on the following no confidence motion:

“We the people have no confidence in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s leadership on climate change. He has failed to deliver action to address the greatest moral challenge of our generation.”

Click here to add your vote.

Australia bullies Pacific Islands in Copenhagen

Australia has shamefully won the Fossil of the Day Award on day ten of the Copenhagen negotiations for pressuring our neighbours in the Pacific islands, in particular Tuvalu, to water down their demands and accept a 2 degrees and 450 parts per million CO2 agreement, which would all but guarantee that their islands and way of life are completely destroyed and would also result in the deaths of millions of people world-wide!

According to the Prime Minister of Tuvalu,:

“There are some countries like Australia who have been trying to arrange a meeting with us to probably water down our position on 1.5 degrees celsius. We did not attend that meeting, but I heard from other small islands that Australia was trying to tell them if they agree to the 2 degrees limit, money would be on the table for adaptation process. That’s their choice to accept the money and back down. But Tuvalu will not. As I said in my speech, 1.5 degrees celsius is our bottom line…

“I as a human being feel that the leaders that are pushing their countries to adopt this 2 degrees they should know from science that that will be killing a lot of people around the world, that should change their position. I will not sign anything less than 1.5.”

When challenged, Prime Minister Rudd did not deny that Australia had tried to get Pacific Islands to effectively sign a suicide pact, but said it was all part of the conference process.

Greens Senator Bob Brown criticised Mr Rudd for his actions, “Our Prime Minister’s office has undertaken a concerted campaign to bully island nations, in particular the outspoken Tuvalu, into dropping their demand that the world limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.

“The proposals championed by Mr Rudd will lead to global warming of almost 4 degrees, breaching the 2 degree limit that he claims they are aimed at.

“This is essentially a nasty political exercise on behalf of the coal industry and other big polluters who are devoid of any consideration for these small island states.”

Rudd says one thing on climate change, but his actions tell a very different story. Australian negotiators have been furiously working behind the scenes to sabotage any meaningful deal. Rudd’s actions in the Copenhagen summit are the same as when Howard was in power – do whatever it takes to avoid any meaningful action on climate change to keep your rich mates in the fossil fuel industries happy.

Kevin Rudd has called climate change “the greatest moral challenge of our generation”. His deeply immoral actions show that he is failing this challenge.

Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme [sic] in the Senate

The Rudd Government’s Carbon Polluters Rewards Scheme (CPRS) is going to be voted on in the Senate this week. It is most likely to fail, as all other parties apart from the Labor Party will be voting against it (the Greens for good reasons, everyone else for bad reasons).

Yarra Climate Action Now (YCAN) has gone on the record in this blog and in other forums numerous times since the CPRS was announced in December last year. To see our past entries on this issue click on these numbers – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

As this issue is all over the news this week, we would like to reiterate that together with the 150 grassroots climate action groups that met in Canberra in February, and most environment groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, we oppose the CPRS and hope it does not become law.

The reasons can be summarised as follows:

1. It will not reduce Australia’s emissions (most reductions will come from buying dodgy overseas offsets)
2. The targets are nowhere near what scientists say is necessary to give us a chance of avoiding runaway climate change.
3. It will result in a massive transfer of wealth from the Australian taxpayer to the big polluting corporations.
4. It will render voluntary action to reduce emissions practically meaningless.
5. It will sabotage international negotiations by showing the world that Australia isn’t serious about fighting the climate crisis.

If the Rudd Government was serious about fighting climate change, rather than just saying it is, it would create a scheme that addresses the above concerns.

For further information to back up the five points above, please see our past entries on this issue.

PS – it goes without saying that the proposal that Malcolm Turnbull released yesterday is even worse!

Response to the Rudd Government’s amendments to the Carbon Polluters Rewards Scheme (CPRS)

The letter below was sent to Kevin Rudd today and signed by 66 climate action groups, including Yarra Climate Action Now.


Dear Prime Minister,

The 66 Climate Action Groups signing this letter are completely shocked by your decision yesterday to further weaken Australia’s position on climate change.

We believe that you have abandoned your duty of care to protect the Australian people as well as our species and habitats from dangerous climate change.

Groups strongly oppose your new 2020 emissions reduction target band of 5-25% below 2000 levels:

  • We have consistently called for targets based on the best available climate science, which calls for reductions of at least 40 – 50% by developed countries by 2020.
  • The 5% unconditional target would, according to the world’s top scientists, commit us to catastrophic climate change and the IPCC’s worst-case scenarios.
  • The 25% upper target, if applied globally, would lead to at least 2°C of warming and the loss of the Great Barrier Reef. This is an untenable position and we cannot accept it.
  • These targets also remain out of step with the unconditional targets agreed to by other developed nations (the UK, US and EU have agreed to cut emissions by 34-46%, 20% and 20-30% from 1990 levels respectively).

Groups also assert that a global agreement based on 450ppm CO2e will not protect the Great Barrier Reef, as you suggested yesterday. International scientists estimate that atmospheric CO2 needs to be no more than 350ppm, but preferably closer to 300ppm, to avoid dangerous climate change.

Your decision to further weaken the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) by increasing the number of free permits, delaying the Scheme by a year and introducing a $10 price cap in the first year, completely flies in the face of the thousands of submissions that were lodged by concerned communities, scientists and individuals.

Groups, once again, recommend you urgently fix the fundamental flaws in the CPRS:

  • Urgently exclude international permits from the CPRS so that actual emissions in Australia will begin to fall from 2010 onwards, rather than reductions only taking place from 2035 onwards (as forecast by the Federal Treasury).
  • Remove the emission floor in the CPRS (which prevents emissions from falling below the 5% target), to ensure that individual action can contribute to additional emissions abatement over and above the 5-25% emissions reduction target band.
  • The proposed ‘Australian Carbon Trust’ does not address our concerns on the need for individual action to be additional to the 5% target. The Trust simply formalises what individuals were always able to do anyway. Nomatter what individuals do to reduce emissions we can never go beyond the 5% target.
  • Exclude both reforestation and deforestation from the Scheme – Groups note the current treatment creates a market distortion in favour of increasing native forest logging. This requires urgent rectification.
  • Replace ALL free-permits in the CPRS with a system of Border Adjustments, to ensure that these sectors transition to a lower emissions intensity without being unduly disadvantaged in the international market.
  • Change the requirements for the $3.9 billion of assistance to coal-fired generators under the CPRS to be conditional upon a phase-out plan for these generators.

Yesterday’s announcement has confirmed to us that you have not been able to stand up to the immense pressure exerted upon you by industry.

Your election promises to the Australian people on climate change were clear and unequivocal. Despite all of this, you have chosen to put industry interests above the national interest.

We stand by our comments to the Senate last month – we believe that your climate change ‘spin’ is deceptive and misleading to both the Australian public and the international community.

The 66 Climate Action Groups signing this letter urge you to treat climate change as the emergency it is, and broker an ambitious new climate deal for Australia that truly addresses the needs of future generations, builds new jobs in ecologically sustainable industries and protects our precious species and habitats.

Yours sincerely,

Yarra Climate Action Now and 65 other climate action groups

Get the Picture Kevin!

Yarra Climate Action Now, together with several other climate action groups across Melbourne have launched the Get the Picture Kev! visual petition. The photos will be collected at markets and other events, and presented to Kevin Rudd later in the year.

To host the cardboard cut-out and collect photos please contact us on YarraCAN@gmail.com.

To see media coverage of the petition in the Melbourne Leader, click here.

To see all the photos we have uploaded so far click here.

Kev’s appearances in May 2009 will be:
Saturday 9 May at the Collingwood Children’s Farm farmers market
Sunday 17 May at the Giant Human Sign at St Kilda Beach
Saturday 23 May at the Abbotsford Convent farmers market

That’s all there is to say, the photos speak for themselves!

For more photos, click here.

Rudd Government Fails Miserably on Climate Change

“The surrender is virtually complete. Our biggest polluters have won, and the rest of us will be paying for it under a joke of an emissions trading scheme that encompasses a significant transfer of wealth to our largest polluters.”

Bernard Keane, crikey.com.au

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme released today by Kevin Rudd, represents a total capitulation to the forces of short term greed and inaction.

The emissions target of 5 per cent reduction on 2000 levels by 2020, rising to a 15% cut in the event of a global agreement, is not even close to what the science says is necessary to avoid runaway climate change – a catastrophe which will claim hundreds of millions of lives and impoverish everyone else.

According to the latest science there is already too much carbon in the atmosphere. Emissions need to go as close to zero as possible, as soon as possible, with measures then taken to remove carbon from the atmosphere to appropriate levels, generally estimated to be around 300-325ppm CO2 – for more information on this, click here or visit the IPCC website.

The weak emissions target also marks Australia’s return to pariah status in the international policy arena on climate change. A 15 per cent target is a joke for a wealthy country such as Australia, and this target will help to sabotage any slim chance that the world community had of negotiating a decent emissions reduction agreement in Copenhagen in 2009.

This agreement not only ignores the science, but it also represents a massive transfer of wealth to big business, via free permits and compensation. Power generators, including coal-fired power stations, will share in $4 billion of “compensation”. This was a mistake made in the European emissions trading scheme, which resulted in massive windfall profits for power generators and price rises for consumers. The Federal Government is aware of this but has obviously decided to repeat the same mistakes the Europeans made.

There will also be a free permit bonanza, with emissions intensive trade exposed firms getting up to 90 per cent of their permits for free.

It is also an immoral policy which will see the poorest people of the poorest countries suffer first, even though they are not to blame for the world’s historic greenhouse gas emissions.

This cannot be allowed to stand. This is a suicidal and irresponsible policy and the Rudd Government is betraying the Australian people. The Rudd Government spin is that they are negotiating the middle ground between environmentalists and industry. In reality, they are ignoring the science and not being truthful with the Australian people on what the true consequences of their weak policies are.

This policy has come about because of a lack of strength and leadership in the government, but also because the public is not actively demanding a science-based climate change policy. The only way we can turn this ship around is to get off our bums and hit the streets.

We need you to join us.