Climate Change and Intergenerational Equity – What is Needed in Energy Policy? Part 6

Climate Change – Where is Governance is failing?

I think the average person is aware that there is something sadly wrong with governance in Australia in relation to Climate Change and that it is now at a low point where rhetoric, spin and industry lobby groups determine what is in the public interest, not the public interest itself.  This issue is way above party politics and the following failures need to be addressed if this country is to be a contributor and not an international ‘weasel’ when it comes to doing something to solve Climate Change once and for all:

  • The delay in setting mid and long-term goals for GHG reductions to solve Climate Change (where failure is not an option) and setting targets for industries to follow, free from corporate bullying and interference from self serving, ‘sceptical’ politicians.
  • The lack of definitive information about the realities of Climate Change and the economic challenges for Australia and the clear consequences of insufficient action locally, nationally and globally. Everyone needs to be on the same page.
  • Failure to convince Australians of their proportional and arguably, more than their proportional responsibility, to act to address Climate Change.
  • Continuing to allow inappropriate interference of industry groups with entrenched incorrect ideas and vested interests, in keeping development patterns and ‘business as usual’.
  • Continuing to allow ‘dumbing-down’; lowest common denominator rating and compliance systems for buildings for approvals; and making the process unfairly tortuous for those who are in the creative, individually designed home and commercial market.
  • The avoidance of Adaptive Management methods to determine the best way forward using the best scientists and climate experts available, and a stable of complementary professionals who can deliver practical and workable solutions, without the agenda being hijacked by those with suspect public interest motivation.
  • Inadequate rewarding of positive Climate Change behaviour and inadequate penalisation of poor or negative behaviour of the community in relation to water use, energy use and over consumption of materials.
  • Lack of proper research into what can be done before the year 2050 to avert a run- away GHE and quantify what is possible.  There needs to be an urgent review following on from the Stern and Garnaut reports.  This review has to be action-oriented: not arguing about the climate science any longer.
  • Not setting a good example for our Asian neighbours to follow.  The 1-2 % impact of Australia on GHGs is not an ethical or intelligent excuse for doing nothing.  Our relatively small population means that it is not what we do to help ourselves that counts: rather, because of our wealth and education levels it is what we can do to set workable solutions for our neighbouring countries in the region.  It is leading by example.  It is a fact that most Asian governments often look towards Australia for governance inspiration.  This is a practical outcome and should greatly increase opportunities for Australian expertise and export industries.  It is not just a moral or ethical position, as often used as an argument for action or non-action.   It is a compelling economic reason in itself.

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An Independent Professional Opinion by Garry Baverstock AM, B. Arch, MSc, LFRAIA,
Adjunct Professor, Built Environment Program, Research Institute for Sustainable Energy (RISE) at Murdoch University.
Director of Wise Earth Research Centre.

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