Author Archive

Scottish climate bill “sets a new moral standard” for the industrialised world.

June 25, 2009

Yesterday, the Scottish parliament agreed on a climate change bill that sets the toughest statutory target yet established in the industrialised world. In a rare show of unity, all political parties unanimously agreed to fix the target as part of a radical bill, which also requires the Scottish government to set legally binding annual cuts in emissions from 2012.

The legislation requires early action to cut emissions, with a target of 42% reduction in Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 against 1990 figures. This shows what is possible for advanced industrial nations like Australia and sets a precedent for other developed nations ahead of the international negotiations at Copenhagen.

This has been hailed by campaigners: some say it is ‘hugely significant’ and that it sets a new ‘moral’ standard for the rest of the industrialised world. The devil, as always, will be in the detail. Some groups are already critical of the government’s refusal to abandon road and airport expansion programs, and its plans for a new coal-fired power station. In addition, Scottish ministers only directly control about 30% of Scotland’s total annual emissions of 68m tonnes of CO_2 – most significant climate change policies are controlled in Brussels and London.

But given Australia’s tragic 5% unconditional targets, this surely must give us all some hope.

Further details at:


a community response to the recession – a Green ‘New Deal’ for Victoria?

April 28, 2009

a community response to the recession – a Green ‘New Deal’ for Victoria?

This is a proposal for a collaborative and integrated response to the triple crunch of recession, climate change, and peak oil.

A recent poll (1) suggests that while Australians appreciate the bonuses they are getting from the federal government, they are not convinced that they are the way to find our way out of economic recession. Instead they believe that we should be investing in infrastructure.

But there is also a deeper dimension at play here. We are not just facing one crisis. Australia, in common, with the rest of the global economy, is facing a triple crunch of recession, accelerating climate change, and growing energy costs and insecurity. These overlapping phenomena threaten to develop into a ‘perfect storm’, the like of which has not been seen since the Great Depression.

As jobs are lost at an increasing rate, decisive and visionary action by the state and federal governments is needed to guide us through this gathering storm and to take advantage of the opportunities that these unprecedented events present to us.

A green ‘New Deal’ for Victoria?

A way forward that is finding support in both Europe and the United States is the idea of a transformational policy program aimed at tackling growing unemployment and declining demand on the scale of Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. This approach involves policies and novel funding mechanisms to substantially reduce the use of fossil fuels while also driving the creation of new ‘green collar’ jobs. This in turn will help us tackle climate change and cope with the energy shortages likely to be caused by peak oil in coming years.

We stand at a pivotal moment in history. To prevent catastrophic climate change we must ensure the global temperature does not rise by more than 2 degrees centigrade above pre -industrial levels.

At the same time we are facing one of the deepest and most severe recessions the world has known, plunging millions into poverty.

Yet these two crises share common roots. A world addicted to fossil fuel, driven by an ideological obsession with letting the market rule has led to economic and environmental breakdown.

These threats are also a major opportunity for our society, and rather than looking for a quick fix that creates some jobs and encourages spending, we must not miss this opportunity to restructure our economy to:

* build resilience to survive the coming changes of global warming
and the end of cheap fuel,
* a ‘steady state’ economy, where the human economy has ceased to
grow, but remains at a healthy, sustainable level.

The bushfires that devastated much of Victoria over the past summer have, and will, lead to considerable changes in how and where we build in fire prone areas. We should ensure that the response to bushfire is fully integrated into a broader response which deals with the recession and builds resilience in the face of climate change.

None of us are as smart as all of us ….

Friends of the Earth has written a discussion paper on these issues. We realise there is a vast depth of good thinking in the community about how to respond to the interlinked threats of recession, climate change and the end of cheap oil. We have launched this paper via a blog, in the hope that others in the community will feel inspired to send their thoughts and suggestions about how to deal with the coming crisis. Ideas and suggestions will be compiled into what we hope will be a compelling document that will argue for the need for a profound and deeply thoughtful response to the challenges we face – individually and collectively.

We would welcome your involvement in creating a broadly supported vision of transformation for Victoria.

It is available at:


We would appreciate feedback by monday May 18 to allow us to incorporate it into the final report.

(1) ‘Mind and Mood’ report, Ipsos MacKay, April 2009

Workers and environmentalists need a new alliance

July 20, 2008

Cam Walker

Like many others, I cut my activist teeth during the Franklin River campaign of the early 1980s. Like thousands of others, I joined the blockades in south-west Tasmania and, like hundreds of others, was arrested for my troubles and spent a week in Risdon Jail.


Ken Livingstone & the rise of the Tories?

May 6, 2008

By Cam Walker

Any thoughts out there about the elections in London and loss of the mayor’s seat by Ken Livingstone to the Tories? And are there parallels back here? Or, more ominously, rumblings of something that’s coming?