Australia leads the way for climate change with mass rally against the government

This week, the streets of  Brisbane, Australia, were packed to the edges with crowds, as over 4,000 citizens joined together in a protest against the Australian government, whose recent decisions regarding climate change have caused widespread anger amongst the public.

The rally, organised by social activist group GetUp!, was one of 130 similar events taking place throughout the country this week, with a combined total over over 60,000 people participating. The widespread action has been motivated by recent decisions made by the Australian government, led by Tony Abbott, which have caused the country to be regarded, in the eyes of many countries, as making significant and dangerous steps backwards in the fight against climate change. Most notably, the recently-elected conservative government has, within three months of being elected to power, has made moves towards a reversal – rejection, even – of Australia’s current carbon-reduction measure targets, and did not send any government representatives as part of the Australian delegation at the UN climate change talks in Warsaw, suggesting that the subject is not considered to be of high priority.

The Australian government’s proposals include a refusal to consider mandatory financing arrangements, which are employed in many economically developed countries, and which serve to fund climate change mitigation and aid the UN in acheiving one of its key aims in slowing climate change. Instead of charging the main pollution culprits (such as coal-fired power generators) a market-set price for their emissions and then spending that money on tax cuts and clean energy funding, the Australian goverrnment will instead collect that money from the country’s tax payers, to be spend on emissions-lowering projects. The delegation defends its stance, claiming that majority of the money must come from the private sector because ‘climate financing shouldn’t be welfare’.

Furthermore, an Australian newspaper last week published a cabinet document, containing details of the government’s intention to slash Australia’s carbon emissions targets from 25 per cent to a mere 5 per cent of 2000 levels, and claims that Australia “will not support any measures which are socialism masquerading as environmentalism.”

The protest in Brisbane was led by Greens party leader Christine Milne who promised that this would be the first of many rallies against the government. Speaking of the government’s aim of repealing the carbon tax in the Senate before July 2014, Milne said that her party would do everything in their power to block it. “In the meantime, the community will mobilise. This is really about pressure  on the government, that’s why John Howard caved in last time,” she said. “Tony Abbott wants to be defined by climate denialism, and the community  wants to be defined by climate activism. This is really a showdown.”

The musician John Butler, who is well known for his action against climate change and his outspoken views against the government, treated the protesters to a 45-minute guitar set. Butler spoke of the government as being an embarassment to Australia around the world, saying: “they are acting like dinosaurs. It’s not only embarrassing, but it is  dangerous for our nation and the world.”

“I want to see the federal government take its head out of the sand and see the writing on the wall.”

Sources include New Scientist, Brisbane Times

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The federal government wants a vote to repeal the carbon tax in the Senate  before July, but Ms Milne said the Greens would do all they could to block  it.

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“In the meantime, the community will mobilise. This is really about pressure  on the government, that’s why John Howard caved in last time,” she said.

“Tony Abbott wants to be defined by climate denialism, and the community  wants to be defined by climate activism.

“This is really a showdown.”

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/crowds-attend-city-rally-on-climate-change-20131117-2xost.html#ixzz2lD4pSsBG

“Our view is that Australia can and should play a constructive role in the UN negotiations to support a strong global response to climate change,” says Will McGoldrick, Climate Change policy manager at WWF Australia. “However, there’s little doubt that the government’s actions in Warsaw have caused some to question whether Australia is indeed willing to play a positive role.”

Of the world’s 61 biggest emitters, Australia is now ranked by non-governmental organisation Germanwatch as the fifth worst in terms of its efforts to protect the world’s climate. The country has also received four “Fossil of the Day” awards at the Warsaw talks, given by NGOs to uncooperative countries

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