Friday, October 23, 2009

Ferguson fuels the need for emergency climate action International Day of Climate Action 24 October 2009

Dangerous climate change starkly underscores the connection between the local and the global - when emissions-intensive brown coal burns in the Latrobe Valley to produce more than 90 per cent of the State's electricity supply, it fuels global warming and disastrous impacts that are felt around the world.

In the same way, a local politician can contribute to climate destruction through a broader role in government policy and the promotion of fossil fuels. That's the connection the residents of the federal seat of Batman need to make between their local federal MP, Martin Ferguson, and his role as energy and resources minister in the Rudd Labor Government.

Ferguson supports the continuing exploitation of brown coal even though he knows it is destructive to the climate. Claims that coal-fired electricity can be made cleaner are belied by the billions of dollars of compensation promised by the Government's so-called climate measures. Why would coal-fired electricity generators need to be compensated under carbon trading if they could cleanly exploit their vast coal reserves?

The answer is that they can't, so they claim the need to be compensated for a carbon price, even though they should have long known a change was in the wind. As well as continuing to exploit coal, they want to exploit taxpayers and monetise climate damage for their own profit and the world's detriment.

As Environment Victoria's Mark Wakeham pointed out on tonight's edition of Stateline Victoria, the priority seems to be to dig the brown coal out of the ground and burn it, or export it to India, before the 'social licence' to do so expires with the realisation of just how damaging the fossil fuel is to our safe climate future. For Ferguson, coal is simply too commercially valuable to be left in the ground.

Often there's an appeal about job losses in this context. It's a diversion. Not only are green jobs to be had in renewables, but the coal lobby is asking us to believe they want to protect workers, when in normal circumstances they'd be trying to cut their workforce to the bone. Surely it is possible to compensate and retrain workers rather than their polluting, profit-taking employers?

Fortunately, with tomorrow's international day of climate action, the local can also impact upon the global - albeit in a far more hopeful way. At Darebin Parklands, in Ferguson's Batman electorate, Darebin Climate Action Now will be holding a picnic from 3.00-3.50pm as its event, and will be asking participants to send a postcard to Martin Ferguson.

Unfortunately, the fossil fuel lobby is much more likely to be heard by Martin than his local constituents' valid concerns about the consequences of his short-sighted quarry vision.

As the champion of fossil fuels, and the defender of massive oil slicks, it's no wonder Ferguson likes to ride on the coat-tails of local green initiatives, is it? They're good PR.

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