I was going to title this blog post ‘Martin Ferguson for Prime Minister’ – but I don’t really know that much about Martin Ferguson.
He gave a great speech in defence of Tasmanian foresters some weeks ago, click here.
Yesterday The Australian newspaper published him asking that we move beyond politics and embrace the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.
The speech and the article are revolutionary because Ferguson is a senior member of the Labor Party and he is taking a stand against traditional green politics yet over recent years the Labor Party has not only consulted with, but encouraged environmental activists, including Don Henry from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), to write Party policy (see the Latham Diaries).
Ferguson is redefining what it means to be an environmentalist and reshaping environmental politics in Australia. In yesterday’s The Australian he wrote:
“Unprecedented world economic growth is creating unprecedented global energy demand, rising energy prices and faster depletion of non-renewable energy resources. These are genuine threats to our future economic wellbeing. Maybe worse, the unequal distribution of energy resources across the world is a real threat to future geopolitical stability.
International initiatives such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate have the potential to ease both these tensions. But although greenhouse gas reduction targets may be necessary, any frank review must conclude that the world’s greenhouse emissions are not going down in the short term: they are simply being shifted from one country to another.
After all, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters are not bound by Kyoto. The US, as the world’s biggest emitter, has refused to ratify the agreement. China and India, the second and fourth biggest emitters, are not required to reduce their emissions. And while we are often reminded by the Greens that Australia has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions, let’s not forget there are good reasons for that.
Australia’s relatively high energy intensity has to be considered in the context of the country’s size and its relatively low population density, its climate, its heavy reliance on coal for power generation, and the presence of energy-intensive industries such as aluminium which form the backbone of the nation’s wealth-generation capacity.
That is why it is a significant achievement of the Asia-Pacific Partnership’s first meeting that the aluminium industry in the member countries reached an agreement on working together to reduce emissions. This is essential to overcome the problem of simply shifting emissions from one country to another and at the same time shifting Australian manufacturing jobs and prosperity offshore, to countries with lower environmental standards.
It is extraordinary that the Greens could place the economic security and jobs of their constituents at risk and at the same time advocate a worse greenhouse outcome by displacing Australian industry to countries with lower standards.
It’s time to abandon the political correctness espoused by the green movement. Let’s be real: without getting business on board we cannot achieve anything.
Read the full article by clicking here.
The Australian newspaper continues the theme with its editorial today. The the last paragraph includes:
The reactionary response to the Asia-Pacific Partnership meeting this week demonstrates that support for Kyoto cloaks the green movement’s real desire – to see capitalism stop succeeding. Extreme greens cannot bear to accept that our best chance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will occur when free enterprise has incentives to implement solutions. While power providers and big electricity users will howl, we need a national carbon trading scheme, with permits bought and sold in the free market, as a means of meeting greenhouse reduction targets set by Canberra. And we need tax concessions for industries that develop new technologies to clean up power supplies. In the long term geo-sequestration, which buries carbon dioxide pumped from power plants, may be a solution. And research into technologies to clean the coal burned in electricity generators is already under way, including development of a power plant in Florida designed to deliver much lower emissions. When the incentives exist business will use technology to find a way. For a century London was plagued by pollution that killed people. No longer. People now fish in the great lakes of North America which were once sludgy industrial swamps. And the idea that cars could emit much less pollution would have seemed impossible to environmental doomsayers 30 years ago. They would not have even conceived that commercial cars could run on batteries, with hydrogen power on the horizon. Whatever the extreme greens say, we can address global warming without adopting a medieval mindset that sees electricity as inimical to the environment. This week’s meeting was a practical step forward by six nations whose legitimate energy requires continued use of coal – perhaps with more nuclear energy to follow. It worried environmental activists – because it showed up their messages of doom for what they are – hot air.
What a difference a week can make!