Expert Panel on Climate Change 2011

In 2011 as the Australian Parliament resumed debating the need for action on climate change, CLW invited women to influence action on climate change from an informed stand point of the scientific and moral imperatives for action and the solutions available to us to solve it. 

ACLW established an Expert Panel to discuss climate change to empower women to lead the way in tackling climate change action through considering the science, government policies, best practice initiatives from individuals in Australia and abroad who are at the forefront of climate change research, analysis and policy making.

ACLW’s international multi-disciplinary Panel informed understanding of climate change and the reasons for action at a personal, social and political level.  

“The issue of climate change is not about belief but science. The scientific community has reached a strong consensus regarding the science of global climate change. The overwhelming majority of climate scientists believe the warming of the earth is unequivocal.”

The Honourable Ms Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and Strategies for the Global Environment began her interview with this statement on ACLW’s virtual multi-disciplinary Expert Panel on Climate Change. Panelist Member, Eva Cox AO, who is a Sociologist, Political Adviser and Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development in Australia stated:

“I do believe in human contribution to climate change because there is evidence enough that we are producing toxic excesses. We need to adopt the precautionary principle, not absolute proof because it is sensible to look at high probabilities and act on them.”

To mark the Centennary of International Women’s Day in 2011, ACLW aims to empower women to lead the way in tackling climate change action.

Through considering the science, government policies, best practice initiatives from individuals in Australia and abroad who are at the forefront of climate change research, analysis and policy making, ACLW’s international multi-disciplinary Panel will empower women to develop an informed understanding of climate change and the reasons for action at a personal, social and political level.

As the Australian Parliament resumes debating the need for action on climate change, CLW invites women to influence action on climate change from an informed stand point of the scientific and moral imperatives for action and the solutions available to us to solve it.

Empowering women to Lead the way in Climate Change Action

8 March 2011 (IWD Centennary)

Expert Climate Change Panelists:

Eileen Claussen
President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and Strategies for the Global Environment , USA

The Hon Eileen Claussen is the former Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. Prior to joining the Department of State, Ms Claussen served for three years as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Global Environmental Affairs at the National Security Council. She has also served as Chairman of the United Nations Multilateral Montreal Protocol Fund. Ms Claussen was Director of Atmospheric Programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she was responsible for activities related to the depletion of the ozone layer; Title IV of the Clean Air Act; and the EPA’s energy efficiency programs, including the Green Lights program and the Energy Star program. Ms Claussen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Singapore Energy Advisory Committee, the Ecomagination Advisory Board, the Natural Gas Council, the Harvard Environmental Economics Program Advisory Panel, and the U.S. Commodity Future Trading Commission’s Advisory Committee. She is the recipient of the Department of State’s Career Achievement Award and the Distinguished Executive Award for Sustained Extraordinary Accomplishment. She also served as the Timothy Atkeson Scholar in Residence at Yale University. 

 Interview with Eileen Claussen 

What are the main drivers for you in believing in climate change and taking action?

The issue of climate change is not about belief but science. The scientific community has reached a strong consensus regarding the science of global climate change.  The overwhelming majority of climate scientists believe the warming of the earth is unequivocal. This warming is largely the result of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from human activities, including industrial processes, fossil fuel combustion, and changes in land use, such as deforestation. Enough is known about the science and environmental impacts of climate change for us to take actions now to address its consequences. In the words of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences 2010 report to Congress: “It is unequivocal that the climate is changing, and it is very likely that this is predominantly caused by the increasing human interference with the atmosphere. These changes will transform the environmental conditions on Earth unless counter-measures are taken.”

Can you explain how the cap and trade emissions trading program operates and why do you advocate this program over the emissions tax option?

A cap-and-trade system is one of a variety of policy tools that exists to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. I believe it is the best tool because it offers environmental certainty (a cap) and economic flexibility (ability to reduce emissions in places where it’s most cost-effective). Once established, a well-designed cap-and-trade market is relatively easy to implement, can achieve emissions reductions goals in a cost-effective manner, and drives low-greenhouse gas innovation.

The key difference between a tax and the cap-and-trade approach comes down to the issue of certainty and environmental benefit. A tax provides cost certainty; the cost is fixed because of the tax. Cap and trade, on the other hand, provides environmental certainty because of the cap. With a carbon tax, many emitters will reduce their emissions rather than pay the tax.

In more detail … In a cap-and-trade program, the government determines which facilities or emissions are covered by the program and sets an overall emission target, or “cap,” for covered entities (firms held responsible for emissions). This cap is the sum of all allowed emissions from all included facilities. Once the cap has been set and covered entities specified, tradable emissions allowances (rights to emit) are distributed (either auctioned or freely allocated, or some combination of these). Each allowance authorizes the release of a specified amount of greenhouse gas emissions, generally one ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). The total number of allowances is equivalent to the overall emissions cap (e.g., if a cap of one million tons of emissions is set, one million one-ton allowances will be issued). Allowance trading occurs because firms face different costs for reducing emissions. For some emitters, implementing new, low-emitting technologies may be relatively inexpensive. Those firms will either buy fewer allowances or sell their surplus allowances to firms that face higher emission control costs.

I understand that the Pew Center has produced 85 peer-reviewed reports on climate change in an effort to demystify the subject for members of Congress and interested companies. Can you point out what has been the focus of this effort in relation to what exactly the Center has aimed to demystify and how do you regard the outcomes of this effort in leading the Pew Center on Climate Change?

As a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization, the Pew Center on Global Change does its best to provide credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions to addressing climate change. One of the Center’s goals is to demystify a wide range of topics that are critical to the issue of climate change, from the science and impacts, to the economics, to policies, and solutions. Our goal is to provide the best information – in an understandable way – so that policy makers and stakeholders can make informed decisions. 

More than any other area, I believe our greatest impact has and continues to be engaging the business community on climate and clean energy policy and solutions. When the Pew Center began in 1998, only a handful of brave firms were willing to address the issue. Now our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), which started with 13 companies in 1998, includes 46 mostly Fortune 500 corporations committed to advancing effective and mandatory climate action. In stark contrast to 13 years ago, all of these firms have a good understanding of the issue and have been active in the policy debate.

While a great deal of work remains to be done, I firmly believe the U.S. climate debate is much further along because of the vocal leadership of many progressive businesses. These business leaders understand the significant opportunity for economic growth in a clean energy future. But unleashing the investments necessary to capitalize on these opportunities requires the certainty that can only come with government policy. And that is an effort we continue to work toward with forward-thinking members of the business community. 

What do you see as some of the best practice solutions which US businesses have put in place to tackle climate change problems?
Energy efficiency is one key area where businesses are taking action that delivers tangible environmental benefits and saves substantial amounts of money in the process. A comprehensive PewCenter study released in April 2010 found that leading companies that give greater attention to energy efficiency have realized billions of dollars in savings and millions of tons of avoided greenhouse gas emissions. The report, From Shop Floor to Top Floor: Best Business Practices in Energy Efficiency, documents leading-edge energy efficiency strategies, describes best practices, and provides guidance and resources for other businesses seeking to reduce energy use in their internal operations, supply chains, and products and services. We are now involved in an assessment of how companies do clean energy innovation, and hope that this analysis and the report we will issue will also be of great value to those in the business sector.

Through our employee-engagement program – Make An Impact – we also know there is a large appetite among employees to learn about constructive solutions to reduce energy use that saves money and helps the climate. By arming their employees with tools to address our climate-energy challenges, companies find great benefits in employee morale and performance.

With recent studies showing that the media in the U.S. continues to indicate that climate change science is contentious or does not have any consensus, how do you in your role deal with this environmental skepticism?

The attacks on climate science – mostly dishonest claims driven by ideology and profit – have proven highly effective at misleading the public and souring its support for climate action. Other factors like the down economy make advancing climate policy an uphill battle, but the well-orchestrated, well-funded campaign to discredit climate science is an influential barrier to progress. 

To help overcome this obstacle, the Pew Center educates diverse audiences, including business leaders, policy makers, and the public about the strong, clear science behind climate change. Scientists may disagree on some details, like individual weather events, but they have an astonishing level of consensus on the basics:  The planet is warming and human activities are primarily responsible for the warming that has occurred since the mid-20th century. 

While we believe the science is indisputable, we know that others do not. So it’s critical to frame the issue in different ways for different audiences while advancing the ultimate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Talking in terms of energy security or economic opportunities in clean energy are two examples that resonate with people who are not swayed by the science. As President Obama has said: There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Discussing climate action in terms managing risk is another way to reach audiences that question climate science. This approach is often used by national security experts, and it forces people to consider the level of risk they are willing to live with and steps they can take to minimize that risk. Risk management is a formal version of choices that families regularly make when buying insurance, deciding where to live, or investing in retirement accounts. It’s an approach that offers a way forward on the complicated and highly politicized issue of climate change. And our knowledge of climate impacts, while not perfect, is much stronger than evidence security experts rely on to make decisions regarding highly sensitive topics such as nuclear proliferation or the actions of rogue states.     

How can communication about the risks and opportunities of climate change be improved to effect change and action?

To generate greater support for action, the public needs a clearer understanding of the impacts likely to become more common in a warming world. The reality is that talk of global average temperatures does not reach people; we need to make the impacts more tangible. I believe this starts with telling compelling stories about impacts occurring in people’s own backyards. From garden club members to city planners, people are being forced to address climate impacts. Their stories, and the connection to changes in our climate, need to be more clearly communicated to broader audiences.

The Pew Center also uses extreme weather events as a teaching tool to educate the public about our vulnerabilities to climate change. The fact is that we need to take action now, or we are simply loading the dice for more extreme weather events in the future. We will see more events such as the unprecedented seasonal flooding in Australia, the 2010 Russian heat wave and flooding in Pakistan. We will see more extreme winter snow storms that blanketed the U.S. Midwest and Northeast this year. It is imperative that we start to take action now to reduce emissions and adapt to unavoidable climate change. 

These impacts translate into the costs of inaction. While opponents of climate policy attack the costs of regulation as a reason for inaction – and surely there are costs – the overwhelming analysis shows that the benefits of action far outweigh the costs. This message needs to be more clearly communicated so the public better understands the benefits of climate action, or conversely, the costs we face by not reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

There have been many reasons put forward as to the failure of the Obama Administration’s Climate Change legislation being passed in the Senate in 2010. To what do you attribute this failure?

Passing comprehensive climate and energy legislation through the U.S. Congress was a huge lift under the best of conditions. It required the White House to lay out a legislative roadmap and push its agenda through Congress. The President also needed to use the bully pulpit to help make the case for climate action to voters. Unfortunately, this did not happen. 

The poor economy was a major reason that impacted the climate and energy debate in Congress last year. Unemployment was at an all-time high, and Americans were more concerned about creating jobs than anything else. Another issue was the health care debate. Passing that legislation used up a great deal of political capital, and it took time away from addressing other issues, including climate and energy. Climate change also became too politically contentious and there was not the bipartisan support necessary to pass the legislation. 

What do you see as being significant about the Cancun climate change achievements?

The agreement reached in Cancún in December fills in many key missing elements of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, including a stronger system of support for developing countries and a stronger transparency regime to better assess whether countries are keeping their promises. The Cancún Agreements also mark the first time that all of the world’s major economies have made explicit mitigation pledges under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Of course, the ultimate goal of the continuing international talks must be a comprehensive binding climate treaty. That’s the goal of the journey we started on this issue way back in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio.  But in Cancún we saw countries agreeing on incremental steps that will deliver stronger action in the near term and, we hope, will keep the world on course toward someday agreeing to binding commitments.

Eva Cox AO
Sociologist, Political Adviser, Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development, Australia

Eva Cox was born Eva Hauser in Vienna in 1938, and was soon declared stateless by Hitler so grew up as a refugee in England, till 1946, Italy and then Australia from age 10. She remembers being cross in Kindergarten that boys were offered drums, and girls the tambourine or triangle. All these early experiences primed her political activism and made her an irrepressible advocate for making societies fairer. She is an unabashed feminist and passionately promotes inclusive, diverse and equitable ways of living together. She was the ABC Boyer Lecturer (1995) on making societies more civil. Her 1996 book (Leading Women) explained why women who made a difference were usually labelled as difficult, a label she wears. She has been an academic, political adviser, public servant, and runs a small research and policy consultancy. A sociologist by trade, she promotes ideas widely and eclectically in books, on line, in journals and other media. Eva has been recognised in various ways: Australian Humanist of the Year, a Distinguished Alumnus at UNSW and an Edna Grand Stirrer award.  She also stirs through being a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development and as a Research Fellow at Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning (UTS).

 Interview with Eva Cox 

Do you believe in climate change? Why or why not?

I do believe in human contribution to climate change because there is evidence enough that we are producing toxic excesses.  We need to adopt the precautionary principle, not absolute proof because it is sensible to look at high probabilities and act on them.

In light of international gender inequalities such as food security, poverty, levels of household work and access to decision-making prevailing, what do you think needs to be done before climate change intensifies these existing inequalities?  

I have said for many years that people will not commit to better ways of dealing with environmental issues unless we fix our social relationships. If we frighten people who are already socially disconnected, people will not act collectively for the common good. So we need to put some social equity goals before environmental ones, eg fairness and equity. Then people are more likely to adopt difficult changes that may require some limits to growth. 

How do you regard the usefulness of the village or local approach in creating localised sustainable environments to deal with climate change?  Do you think that women need to direct their efforts into a community led, localised approach more so than a regional or international one?  

Women need to be involved and operate at all levels. If we focus on the local, those at higher levels will undermine and destroy the local as power is usually downwards. So we need to make sure we are heard and involved at all levels. 

In relation to the social impacts of climate change such as stress, welfare and decline of community relationships, how can women of different backgrounds and communities mitigate and plan for the impacts of climate change?  

Am not sure why backgrounds are the issue, we need to work together and to do so, we need to act on the issues that divide us, including fear and the self interest that often is the result of fear.  

In the absence of a gender perspective in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicating that climate change has differential impacts on societies varying among regions, generations, ages, classes, income groups, occupations and gender lines,
(a) How can women’s voices be heard and included in decision making in global policies on climate change? 
(b) How can this be done in Australia? 

We need to raise our game and make sure we are there. Women’s groups  are too likely to avoid unfamiliar areas and stay out of the battles, so we need to up our game.  

What do you find to be most significant about current research findings that relates to examining the differential social impacts of climate change?  Are there any examples where policy is proving to be successful in empowering people and building their adaptive capacities?

Am not familiar with this literature, what works more generally is genuine devolution of decision making and control. 

If you were to develop a socially responsive climate change policy for Australia, what would be the key principles that you would base it on?

Fairness and deliberate engagement of all significant groups.  

What is your opinion of there being a lack of bipartisan support in Australia for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), the cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme (ETS) which was rejected in the Parliament in August and December 2009?  How would you like the Gillard Government to move forward on this issue? 

By getting some guts and not constantly compromising with the powerful.

Dr Andrew Ash
Director, Climate Adaptation Flagship, CSIRO, Australia

Dr Andrew Ash leads the Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship which aims to equip Australia with practical and effective adaptation options to climate change and variability.  As Flagship Director, Dr Andrew Ash is responsible for deciding research priorities, overseeing a large portfolio of research projects and managing many partnerships and collaborations. Dr Ash has over 20 years’ experience in understanding how climate, grazing and fire influence the productivity and health of agriculture and ecosystems in northern Australia.

His research on sustainable grazing practices in the highly variable climate of the Australian rangelands prompted an interest in the techniques of seasonal climate forecasting. This led him to develop and apply ocean-based seasonal forecasting methods for both agricultural and natural resource management. With concerns increasing about the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, Dr Ash worked with colleagues at James Cook University to establish Australia’s first Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment experiment (OZFACE) to test the response of tropical savanna ecosystems to elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. His most recent work has been on developing ways to more explicitly integrate our understanding of climate science with decision-making in broader contexts. To achieve this outcome Dr Ash has been driving a research approach that integrates biophysical, social and economic sciences and works in partnership with end users. Before taking on the current role of Flagship Director, Dr Ash was Deputy Chief for CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems (now Ecosystem Sciences). 

Interview with Dr Andrew Ash

What is climate adaptation?

Adaptation is a means for dealing with the challenges that climate change and variability are bringing.  It is how we respond, in natural or human systems, to actual or expected changes in the climate or its effects. Adaptation can either reduce the harm anticipated as a result of climate change impacts or exploit opportunities for benefit.

Examples of adaptation can be as simple as reducing water use by saving and reusing grey water from washing machines for watering gardens or lawns, or harvesting stormwater for watering playing fields and public gardens in local communities. Adaptation could include planning for more severe and intense bushfires as a result of less rainfall and drier conditions. It can be planning coastal developments so that sea level rise, storm surge and coastal erosion do not impact on them. Adaptation is an issue that needs to be considered by all governments, industry and the community now and into the future.

Why do we need to adapt?

Climate variability already has a large impact on the Australian economy and the early impacts of climate change are already noticeable. Even if the world makes a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the time-lag in the climate system means that we are faced with decades of climate change due to the emissions already in the atmosphere. Average temperatures in Australia have already increased by 0.9oC since 1950.

While we don’t yet fully understand the consequences of this warming, we expect to see a  significant rainfall decline in southern Australia, an increase in the frequency and severity of events such as droughts and heatwaves, an increase in extreme sea-level events around our coastline, and a major reduction in inflows to our most important river system.

Further impacts are inevitable and we need to begin planning now. Adaptation is a necessary complement to measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By acting early to adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change we can lessen the negative impacts of climate change and take advantage of any new opportunities that arise. For example, early studies indicate that for Australian agriculture, adaptation measures could reduce the impacts of climate change on productivity by 20 – 50 per cent, and substantially reduce the economic cost to regional communities.

How can adapting now reduce problems later?

Decisions on long-lived infrastructure made by home-builders, town-planners, transport engineers, water managers and others will have consequences far into the future. By taking into account projected likely changes to the future climate, we can ensure that our decisions reduce, rather than compound, the social, economic and environmental impacts of climate change on the next generation.

The work of the Climate Adaptation Flagship tries to identify ‘no-regrets’ options for adaptation – actions that will have net benefits regardless of the exact type or magnitude of climate change that occurs. A good example might be improving the water-use efficiency of irrigation systems. Using less water saves money and helps the environment, and if climate change continues to result in reduced rainfall, efficient irrigators will be better adapted to cope with water shortages.

How will Australia cope with these changes?

Australia is well equipped to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Australians have a long history of coping with the vagaries of a highly variable climate.  The nation enjoys a high standard of living and so we have the capacity to adapt and prepare for some of the impacts of climate change.  

However we have to look at options for adaptation now so we can benefit from them in the future.  Some of the changes we have to make may be small and incremental while others will require us to completely transform the way we approach certain tasks.

Potential actions to adapt to life in a changing climate include: choosing development sites that will be less affected by extreme weather events; improving building design; reducing water use and developing new water sources; switching to more drought-tolerant crops; improving the resilience of ecosystems threatened by climate change; and assisting our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region.

The benefits from changes like these will be far reaching by: protecting lives, livelihoods, and property arising from extreme weather events (flood, fire, coastal inundation, wind damage); improving health risks by better managing heat waves, vector borne diseases and air quality; and reducing environmental damage from climate variation and climate change.

What should I be doing to prepare for climate change?

The nature of climate change is ongoing, pervasive, over the long term future uncertain and requires an integrated effort.  Some of the changes we need to make will be very straight forward – like reducing water consumption in response to lower inflows into dams.  But decisions we make about our economy; our food and water systems; conservation management; and our cities and coasts – will take an integrated, long term approach from all levels of government, industry, and the community as a whole.

Steve Andrews
CEO, SolarAid, UK

Steve Andrews, Chief Executive, is former Director and Chairman of leading charity marketing agency Whitewater. Steve has been closely involved in SolarAid since the charity was founded in 2006, assisting with strategy and marketing consultancy and helping to raise the profile of the charity. He has worked as a fundraiser for over 20 years, advising a number of development charities, including Christian Aid, Save the Children and WaterAid on marketing and fundraising strategies. Having built Whitewater up from a seven person company struggling to break even into a 45-strong £3 million company, he now leads SolarAid into its next stage of development. 

Interview with Steve Andrews 

What do you see as the philosophy that is behind SolarAid and why do you believe in it?

Imagine if you had no electricity in your home. So when the sun goes down, your choice is between living in darkness or using candles. Just getting around your house would be difficult, never mind doing anything productive or entertaining.

Well that’s the reality of life for 79% of people in the developing world. Except for most of them, their main option is a kerosene lamp, not candles.

SolarAid wants to rid the world of the kerosene lamp. It is a brutal technology which, aside from giving poor light, is a major cause of respiratory disease, is often responsible for horrific tragedies (they can explode and cause fires); and almost worst of all, are very expensive to run.

We meet families for whom over 50% of their expenditure goes on kerosene. It bleeds them of money to spend on school fees, income generating activities or better food.

And yet the technology now exists for these people to replace their lamps with solar lights.

SolarAid is building awareness, understanding and trust in solar lights, helping to create demand and a sustainable market for them. One day, we’ll achieve our goal and the kerosene lamp will be gone.

The social, environmental and economic benefits of us doing so are mind-bogglingly huge

What does SolarAid have to do with climate change and why are SolarAid’s efforts focused on Africa?

Kerosene lamps are pumping 100 million tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere each year. When we succeed in our mission to get rid of them, we’ll have made a very big contribution to the fight against climate change.

We are focussed on Africa as a first step.

Despite their huge benefits, it is still proving difficult to economically sell solar lights to people for whom the capital outlay may be many weeks of income; for a product that they don’t yet trust and for which there is no established market that can respond if their light stops working.

SolarAid, through our social enterprise, sunnymoney, is testing ways to sell lights at scale and create this trust. When we’re confident in our business model, we’ll look to scale beyond Africa.

How does SolarAid work with remote and disadvantaged communities in Africa?

In many ways! We’re constantly testing ways to economically sell lights in the remotest communities. It’s a huge challenge.

And we’re putting larger solar systems on schools and clinics that have no power. This is thrilling work: exam results go up quickly when a school has solar power. The kids can study for longer and, being Africa, they do! And clinics with power can remove toxic kerosene from maternity suites; or store vaccinations in a fridge for the first time.

What have been some of the impacts of SolarAid on these communities?

The impacts are huge!

We’re seeing children’s exam results going up quickly. And families, no longer being bled dry buying kerosene, able to afford better diets or invest in small businesses.

In one clinic in Tanzania, we heard of a midwife, so reluctant to use a toxic kerosene lamp when supporting a mother in labour, she lit up her way by holding her a mobile phone in her mouth. In any context, this would have been a shocking situation. In a country with high levels of HIV, the implications are just awful. But that’s no longer a problem since SolarAid installed solar lighting throughout the clinic.

What have been some of the challenges you have encountered in establishing SolarAid’s vision?

SolarAid’s vision is a world where everyone has access to clean, renewable energy.

I strongly believe that a vision is pointless unless you take it literally. What this means for SolarAid is that we have to achieve something so vast and audacious that we’re going to have to re-write the rules of how NGO’s work. Maybe achieve things that no other NGO has achieved before us.

We’ll need to perform like the most entrepreneurial business you can imagine. Hire truly outstanding people (who are going to cost us!). Develop breakthrough strategies. Take huge risks. Behave in ways that people don’t normally associate with NGOs.

Before joining SolarAid, I built up and sold a successful business. But that was a walk in the park compared to SolarAid. This is the professional challenge of my life-time.

I want us to achieve the vision within 10 years.

What are the main drivers for you in believing in climate change and taking action?

I have one driver for believing in climate change. It’s called science. 

And one driver for taking action: knowing, when I go to my grave, that I did everything I could to prevent disaster; for my children and the world’s poorest people – who have small carbon footprints but are already experiencing the greatest consequences.

Do you regard solar energy as being an economic alternative source of energy that should be adopted more extensively by governments and how do you compare solar energy with other alternative sources of energy such as nuclear power for long term investment?

Solar’s costs are plunging, nuclear’s are soaring. As soon as anything approaching full cost accounting comes in, nuclear will no longer be an option. Unless you want to build nuclear weapons of course.  

In much of the developing world, where there is no grid electricity but there is a lot of sun, solar is by far the most economical option. 

Other renewable sources such as wind and tidal also have a huge part to play, depending on local geographies.

What do you see as some of the best practice solutions which UK businesses have put in place to tackle climate change problems?

Full supply-chain carbon targets have instilled impressive energy efficiency improvements among retailers. All companies should use solar more because they all know what is going to happen to conventional energy prices over the life of a solar system.

Giselle Wilkinson
President, Sustainable Living Foundation, Australia

Giselle Wilkinson is the President of Sustainable Living Foundation, Australia. She is a social innovator who has been working to promote sustainable living in a full time capacity since co-founding the Sustainable Living Foundation (SLF) in 1999. As an author she has presented a paper, ‘Accelerating Sustainability’, to an international conference of the Australasia and the Pacific Extension Network and released a book on sustainable living and food, packaged to reach a mainstream Australian audience. She is currently undertaking a Doctorate in ‘Mobilising Whole Communities to Restore a Safe Environment’. 

Giselle maintains her commitment focussing on ways to galvanise individuals and whole communities to respond appropriately to the sustainability emergency. She does this through her involvement with SLF as President; with Safe Climate Australia as a founding Board Member; as a Board member of the Climate Emergency Network; through public speaking; and by facilitating an ‘affordable / sustainable’ Cohousing rental development for 18 households in Heidelberg, Melbourne to be completed by the end of 2010. 

The overarching conviction driving Giselle’s work stems from her knowledge that the next ten years are crucial if a safe climate is to be restored. Her inspiration comes not just from a desire to avoid a human and planetary catastrophe but also from a vision of an achievable, community initiated transformation – a sustainability renaissance. To that end, she has been part of a recent move establishing an alliance to campaign for a Transition Decade enabling the restoration of a safe climate. 

Interview with Giselle Wilkinson

There still continues to be much contention about global warming and human contribution to it. What do you see as being serious global warming impacts that are happening now?  

Firstly, let’s look at the “contention”. The tobacco industry knowingly lied over decades that cigarette smoking did not damage health. The fossil fuel industry and stakeholders have employed the very same marketing agents. Their one product – doubt – has kept in “contention” the evidence both of climate change itself and what causes it. What motivates these various people – the moguls, tycoons, politicians, journalists, media personalities and spin doctors, to use their influence to put lives and ‘life as we know it’ at risk?  

Is it money and status, money and power, money and business interests? Or, in the case of the politicians of either major persuasion, do vested political interests trump their sense of responsibility for governance for the common good? Will these people behaving badly face the “retribution and accountability” that Gilding speaks of in The Great Disruption? These base motivations have brought the biodiversity of the planet, on which humans depend and are a part, to a precarious place. As a country perceived to have “laughed all the way to the bank”, Australia can expect to be looked on with dismay and disgust by other parts of the world when the penny finally drops. Should we also expect to be castigated, even punished, when the geopolitical picture changes?

 We now have extremely robust science to contend with the relentless attack but this does little to abate the anger and frustration when seen against the decades of valuable time wasted in false argument. Now evidence from the Arctic and the Great Barrier Reef informs us that this very decade is absolutely critical to turn the developed world’s suicidal trend around and achieve the restoration of a safe climate. 

Impacts are being felt in human communities all over the world. The people of Tuvalu, the CataretIslands, the Maldives, the Solomons and elsewhere already face the reality of sea level rise, the inundation of the food growing areas and the sad relocation from their beloved homelands to higher ground. Climate impacts on food production, on water availability, on the diminishing biodiversity of the oceans and forests and savannahs; human populations dislocated and poverty and instability exacerbated through direct impacts of increasingly intensified heat, drought, floods and storms. 

Ice loss at the poles – both in extent and pace of melting – is worse this year than the frightening previously record-setting year of 2007. The thickness of the ice has halved since 2001. The warming of the atmosphere at the poles is many times more severe than at the equator and amplifying sea level rise in conjunction with the warming expansion we are also seeing happening now; acidification and anoxia of the oceans (there are ‘oxygen holes’ in the Pacific) is probably far worse than we have even begun to realize – we know so little about our oceans; Recent severe droughts in the Amazon causing extensive die-back and fires in the newly-flammable forests. People are now walking in dried up waterways where before they paddled their canoes; Thawing permafrost beginning to release methane – seventy times more dangerous than carbon dioxide in the critical short term – from huge reserves that we must not allow to escape; significant loss of mass of the Greenland ice-sheet and the appearance of moulins ­– the vertical shafts that drain the melt water and effectively lubricate the ice-sheet bed speeding up the melting and the calving of glaciers. The receding glaciers of the Himalyas and South America, have huge implications for the many millions of humans that depend on the seasonal snow melt and glacier melt for their water and agriculture; the warming temperatures, droughts and desiccation of landscapes causing dire consequences like the Victorian heat-wave and Murrundindi fires of February 2009 that took 500 human lives; the extinction of species at 1000 times the base rate; desertification in north-western China, their acute water shortage and collapse of many aquifers; These are just some examples of the serious impacts that are already occurring. 

Anthropogenic climate change is exacerbating whatever nature is naturally responsible for and taking us into uncharted and dangerous circumstances for which we are largely responsible. Even if that were not the case, we may well have it within our capacity to avert cataclysmic climate change so we must give it our best shot. We have made a mess. We can stop making it now and we can clean it up. By luck or paradox the remedy that can restore safe climate conditions is consistent with the suite of actions that can bring about a sustainable world. So we can not only avert catastrophe but also usher in the next Renaissance. And if we accept that the first Renaissance started with a number of people with vision – “Two hundred people and the printing press” – we can see that our technology for this Renaissance includes the Internet and there are many more than two hundred people in the groundswell that’s happening now. The leadership is clearly visible at the grassroots internationally and communities reclaiming their democracies will have to steer their governments.

Which aspect of the science and or scientists research do you call upon as evidence supporting your views?  

I draw on the science that informs Safe Climate Australia which is currently raising funds to complete the “How Fast” project – the research required to determine the timeframe for the transition to a sustainable economy; [ Is it not extraordinary that the science hasn’t been done yet to tell us how long we’ve got before we reach the point of no return? Even ‘blind Freddy’ knows ‘time is of the essence’ and the Precautionary Principle should be applied as a matter of urgency.]  

I stay closely tuned-in to the work of Philip Sutton and David Spratt – co-authors of Climate Code Red and others in the movement such as Peter Christoff – the recent Melbourne University “Four Degrees” conference brought climate change scientists from all over the world to show us that four degrees is not an option – even two degrees of warming brings with it unacceptable risk; and I read and pay heed to numerous authors including James Hanson, George Monbiot, Mark Lynas, Lester Brown, Clive Hamilton, Ian Lowe and many others.  

The Transition Decade Guiding Team, comprising reps from Sustainable Living Foundation, Beyond Zero Emissions, Climate Emergency Network, Yarra Climate Action Network, Groundswell and Friends Of the Earth have impeccable sources.  

Over the twelve years of SLF and its comprehensive knowledge network, a great wealth of understanding of sustainable living, climate change and complex systems has been built; a depth of experience in the understanding of the social and structural changes needed to create the rapid transition to safe climate conditions and the transformation to a sustainable way of living has been shared; and a creative and courageous emergence-fostering practice and culture has been developed.

How have you been focusing on ways to galvanise individuals and whole communities to respond appropriately to the sustainability emergency?

SLF’s mission statement, since its inception in 2000, has focused on accelerating the uptake of sustainable living with a positive, solution oriented approach. The primary mechanism through which to achieve this has been the development of ‘platforms’ that create the contexts and conditions enabling people and organizations to more effectively communicate their work and reach receptive audiences. 

The Sustainable Living Festival celebrating sustainable living and now heading to its twelfth incarnation, is the most high profile platform. The full two week festival program, incorporating the popular, three-day iconic Main Event held in the heart of Melbourne, showcases exhibitors, debates, talks, art, music, food and creativity and reaches far and wide into the Australian community, rural and regional centers. Other platforms include the Sustainable Living Directory, the Sustainable Living Calendar, Sustainable Living Communities and the Sustainable Events Program.  

However, accelerating the uptake of sustainable living took on a greater sense of urgency as the telling evidence of the Artic ice melt came in along with the realization that the IPCC was not factoring in this vital piece of information at all. The awareness that we were already in a fully blown climate emergency was undeniable although hard to come to terms with. Striving to understand the scale and speed of the change needed was challenging. Realising that the change would need to be social as well as structural and that ultimately ‘everyone everywhere’ would need to be part of it, we began to focus on how to go about mobilising whole communities. In 2005 the Race to Sustainability was created but few then accepted the need to ‘race’. Early 2007 we ran the first of an ongoing series of meetings for the movement, The Sustainability Convergence, introducing the ‘Climate Emergency’ to the consternation of many.

In 2008 I published a book as a way to reach a mainstream audience. About the many issues related to food, agriculture and sustainability seen through the lens of sustainable living, it was designed to slip under the radar screen by being packaged as a cookbook. The Conscious Cook, now in second edition and third reprint, is still the only book of its kind written for an Australian audience. It gently encourages and enables the reader to consciously raise and apply their awareness of the issues via the icons used with each recipe.

Most recently (February 2010) was the launch in the MelbourneTown Hall to an audience of around 14,000 people, of the Transition Decade Alliance, an initiative SLF is proud to have made a pivotal contribution to its founding and to continue to play an active part in its development. 

What are your views on what the Gillard government is attempting to put in place to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions? 

The carbon tax would have been better expressed as a ‘fine on climate pollution’. Few decry the fining of container ships that dump their pollution out at sea while bringing us the goods we need and want. The same should apply to the deliberate polluting of the atmosphere that encompasses our Earth, the aerial ocean that we all share with every breath we take. 

This ‘carbon tax’ is a positive, albeit tiny, first step that has opened the way for further, more powerfully effective measures. It has also put the wind in the sails of those working on clean technologies and social solutions and for the restoration of a safe climate future. 

The Gillard government’s plan includes the decommissioning of 2000 megawatts of coal power which, with any luck, will mean the shutting down of the decrepit Hazelwood power station, indisputably Australia’s dirtiest and least efficient coal plant. However, since it’s at the end of its life anyway, it would be mad and setting a very bad precedent indeed to give in to the ridiculous claims for compensation from the owners who know full well it’s overdue for retirement anyway. Such money from the public purse would be far better spent on ensuring a just transition for the workers. Another grave risk in this package is that we may see this fossil fuel powered station being replaced by another one, gas or otherwise. The BZE Stationary energy report clearly demonstrates we have renewable energy options. The increasingly dangerous days of fossil energy are almost over. 

If it is true that things get most dangerous when they’re in their death throes and we’re currently seeing an unholy  coal rush of frightening proportions happening in many parts of Australia, perhaps this can be seen as a good sign. A sign of imminent change. Around 80% of Queensland is under mining lease. NSW is similarly at risk of great destruction. Some of our most productive land, such as the Queensland Darling Downs with its up to 10 meters deep of rich topsoil, is being mercilessly fracked and mined right now. The Lock the Gate Campaign is gathering momentum to stop it. France has banned the devastating practice of coal seam gas fracking (the first country to do so) and other parts of the world are urgently instituting moratoriums, yet we here are going gangbusters to mine it, dig it up and ship it off as fast as possible before we’re stopped – as we know we will be.

Do you see it as providing a good transition plan to a net zero-carbon economy?

The Transition Plan to a zero-net economy is not there yet. The Labor government now has a hung parliament and a strong Greens presence to deal with which is setting the scene for some meaningful action in this area at long last. However, they are setting targets of 80 per cent emissions reduction by 2050 – way too late and not enough. The hardest part of this transition will be getting the commitment to it in the first place and getting it started. After that the infrastructure, momentum and community acceptance will be in place making the rest of the transition easy by comparison. 

We need to see our political leaders paying closer attention to the science; to the moves starting to be seen around the world; the evidence of the noticeably intensifying climatic events; the telling and record-breaking loss of Arctic ice this very year; and the growing level of concern in the community and among well-informed people that we have to move much, much faster. 

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, from the Potsdam Institute in Germany, and many others are stating unequivocally that we must peak our emissions by 2020 “in order to avoid the unmanageable”. He is saying this in the context of having a 60 to 70 percent chance of avoiding a 2 degree temperature increase. BZE talks about these odds being equivalent to playing Russian roulette with two bullets in the barrel. Not good odds.  

I believe, as do a growing number of others, that we need to achieve zero emissions by 2020, to have begun to draw excess carbon out of the atmosphere to bring about the conditions we know give us a safe climate and we need to cool the already overheated planet.  

What we need from the Gillard government is simply responsible risk management and good governance. We need our governments to be paving the way with intelligent community education campaigns, appropriate policy development now; and preparation for the pulling of the big levers (coal OFF, renewables ON) to change direction, transition to clean energy and to, in effect, step-up to the need for whole systems change. 

The time for incremental change is over. We now urgently need a rapid social and structural transformation on a massive scale.  Underlying all our profligate energy use, rampant consumerism, retail therapy and huge waste, is our misplaced faith in a growth economy and the flawed concept that infinite growth on a finite planet is possible. We have to live within our limits. We need good government now more than at any other time in human history and we need proactive government to participate in the planning, already underway in the non-government sector, for a rapid transition to a net zero carbon economy.

The Gillard government is at least, and at last, providing a good first step to an urgently needed transition plan to a net zero-carbon economy. We need to congratulate them on this initiative, encourage much stronger measures and demand this critical transition be treated with the greatest urgency.

Do you believe that there is a climate tipping point? When do you see this as being?

A comprehensive understanding of whole systems at the meta end of the scale and the tipping points contained within is not widely held and so responses being proposed are currently inadequate to the task. Yet with the knowledge we do have, we can be certain there are tipping points that we can see coming. Probably, in our ignorance, there are others we can’t as yet predict. 

It may well be that we have already passed a critical tipping point and that now we have to just watch it play out. This is the greatest fear of many who do this work. Perhaps we have a one in five chance that we’ve blown it already, maybe one in ten. We have known for decades that we would arrive at this point. We just didn’t think it we’d be anywhere near reaching it so soon, that it would affect those of us alive at this time.  

The scientific evidence tells us that the Greenland ice-sheet is almost certainly doomed. If it melts sea levels will rise by seven meters. As so much human civilisation is located in coastal regions this will mean a lot of lives lost and a lot of relocation most of which will be unhappy, unwelcome and disastrous. If we were serious about adaptation we’d be drawing up plans now for the safe and peaceful relocation of millions of humans. We’d be looking at the planet thinking beyond the outdated nation-state mentality, which simply wont work for our species any more. My fear is that we will be late and unprepared and therefore fail to manage the situations we find ourselves in. We will behave badly and many will suffer.  

We need to turn around the global warming trend and to apply mechanisms to cool the planet as urgently as is safely possible in order to prevent disastrous, methane releasing thawing of the permafrost. 

That we haven’t yet reached such a catastrophic point provides enough hope to be worth every bit of our attention and energy. This work is rewarding only in that it is based on this hope and engaged in with great determination and a deep-seated trust in the human capacity to be galvanized into intelligent survival action. Failure is not an option so half-hearted measures that don’t fully solve the problem are pointless. 

By contrast we have a chance and an opportunity we’d be mad to not go for. We can each play a thoughtful and proactive role in transforming our Australian society and, at the same time, contributing to the urgently needed global paradigm shift.  Do we not want and wish for a world that is sustainable and based on clean energy? One that delivers important benefits in human and environmental health, family and community resilience, creative self expression, pace of life and peace of mind? Are these outcomes not conveniently identical to the solutions that must be applied to the ‘problem’? How lucky are we to be able to trade our collective dysfunctional behaviours and their awful consequences for positive, sustainable ones that deliver a much saner, more equitable, more secure and therefore happier world.

How have you found developing your leadership profile in the climate change landscape in Australia? 

As in so many areas, it’s about ‘earning your stripes’, ‘getting runs on the board’. When SLF ran its first Sustainable Living Festival in 2001 we had no runs on the board and no money in the bank. We were basing our proposals for funding on our sheer enthusiasm, commitment and a capacity to bring in a strong and robust network of expertise, to find the caliber of participation – all voluntary of course – and our belief that it was so obviously the intelligent thing to be doing it would receive the appropriate support.  

Amazingly we pulled it off and continued to grow from strength to strength always ‘lean and keen’ and therefore highly creative, always relying heavily on the support of the volunteer participants, the exhibitors and the handful of ethical partners to help us get over the line. These days we still deliver a million dollar event that belies the scant financial resources available to it and that still relies on, and gives opportunity for, a large component of voluntary participation and risk sharing. 

For myself, my action became the antidote to despair. I spoke with passion and persuasion but naturally enough it took time to earn the credibility in the eyes of some. I was perceived as the ‘holder of the flame’ and to this day, see this as an important part of my role in SLF. The flame is one that embodies a ‘can-do’ approach: inclusive, empowering, creative, courageous and committed.

 As the years passed the sense of urgency grew. Our understanding of the implications of the much faster-than-predicted melting of the Arctic propelled us into even more concerted action. While we continued with our work of promoting the ins and outs of living more sustainably for all the reasons of which we were already aware, we also steered our path into exposing the new information, generating new awareness, new urgency. We sought to find ways to guide people into turning their concerns into action.  

In 2011 there are now many organisations focused on adaptation and mitigation and a growing number on the climate emergency ( I see part of SLF’s particular role now is to shine a spotlight on the opportunity and urgency to transition to a carbon free economy and ‘restore safe climate conditions’; to help develop the methodology and mechanisms for a full and rapid social transformation; and to articulate and promote the benefits a clean, healthy, just and sustainable world.

What are some qualities you regard as being necessary for leadership in this field?

All of us, not just those in the field, are being challenged by the unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves. We’re all in this together and as a society, wherever we are located in our work and communities, we all have the very same threat / opportunity and responsibility to face up to.  

The sheer momentum of change, peer group pressure and the buzz will sweep along the majority of people in the end. Some will resist to the last and be forced by legislation. However, many of us will need to step up and take a stand somewhere in our lives. Whether that involves speaking out, making major change, being innovative or courageous, we will need to dig deep within ourselves, search our souls, decide when to take action and perhaps step into leadership roles. In these conflicted times, our politicians are not our leaders; they are followers of the vote. Government will swing into ‘transition mode’ when the social tipping point has been reached.  

Right now the leadership is coming from the grass roots, the community, the better informed and the few enlightened. It has to. 

Leadership can be out in front and very visible. It can also be leading from behind “Follow me, I’ll be right behind you”. It can have high profile or no profile at all. It can be in paid positions but, as often as not, isn’t. As in other situations of great crisis, people step forward left, right and centre, to play their part. Many are visible only to their families, friends and colleagues. Some are seen as heroes. 

The timing is vital. The writing is on the wall; we have run out of time for incremental change, we’ve procrastinated far too long already. We have a golden opportunity tantalisingly close.  Seize the day. 

The numbers of people becoming active are growing. Not all activists are leaders but at this time the challenge to draw on leadership qualities within ourselves is paramount. So much of the work is about breaking new ground, being innovative, reflexive and creative. We are living in extraordinary times at a personal and collective crossroad. 

Each ‘green leader’ will have their combination of leadership qualities ­– essential, important or helpful depending on the context.  

Leadership in this ‘green’ field really requires a high level of authenticity; strong values of honesty, integrity, respectfulness, are essential. To be open to growth and to feedback, to be able to give and receive, be self-disclosing, empathetic, compassionate and people & community-oriented is important; it helps if ‘green’ leaders  can give the benefit of the doubt at times, be trusting and trustworthy, loyal, idealistic and altruistic. It also helps if they have a strong sense of connection other sentient life forms.  

Leadership in this work requires a person to be highly self-motivated, independent, autonomous, inner directed; they need to set their own standards and strive to be effective. Being a good organiser, rational, affiliative, a problem-solver, a planner, a strategist and someone who meets deadlines and commits (as much as possible) to not holding up the work of others is important.  

They need to be able to creatively conceptualise, communicate well, articulate vision and be non-hierarchical and highly collaborative; to have a macro overall approach as well as being prepared to pitch in on the minutiae, wrestle with difficult ideas, be able to be reflective. Probably most important of all, is that they express optimism, have a sense of humour, a courageous streak, a healthy sense of impatience and determination to overcome obstacles. 

To have some of these qualities – some of the time – must contribute to useful leadership in this work and in our world. But perhaps being ‘open to growth’, doing the work on a personal level, learning how to live with grief and hope and channel our activity to be as generous and effective as possible, delivers an altogether unexpected benefit? Perhaps we finally get to grow up.

Ian Dunlop
Chairman of Safe Climate Australia & Deputy Convenor of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil

Ian Dunlop has wide experience in energy resources, infrastructure, and international business, for many years on the staff of Royal Dutch Shell.  He has worked at senior level in oil, gas and coal exploration and production, in scenario and long-term energy planning, competition reform and privatization. He chaired the Australian Coal Association in 1987-88. From 1998-2000 he chaired the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading which, under the Howard government, developed the first emissions trading system design for Australia.  From 1997 to 2001 he was CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  Ian has a particular interest in the interaction of corporate governance, corporate responsibility and sustainability.   

An engineer from the University of Cambridge, he is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Energy Institute (UK), and a Member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME (USA).  He is Chairman of Safe Climate Australia, Deputy Convenor of the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil, a Director of Australia 21and a Member of The Club of Rome. He advises and writes extensively on governance and sustainability.   

Interview with Ian Dunlop 

Do you believe that Australia’s Carbon Tax will enable Australia to have a cleaner future?

The Carbon “Tax” will undoubtedly contribute to achieving a cleaner future for Australia, but it is only a beginning.  If we seriously intend to address global warming, as our leaders claim, action has to be far more extensive and rapid than we are being told. It must go way beyond the government’s current Clean Energy Future package, structured primarily around the latest considered science rather than, at present, on what is thought to be “politically realistic”.   

But the term Carbon “Tax” is itself a misnomer. It is not a tax at all, but the introduction of a price on carbon as a first step in removing the enormous subsidy which the fossil-fuel industries have enjoyed since the Industrial Revolution. Our economic system currently does not require business to pay for the cost of pollution being generated by the use of those fuels, costs which arise from the increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere and the resulting warming, and from other adverse impacts such as deteriorating community health and biodiversity loss.   

The thin greenhouse gas blanket encompassing the Earth is essential for our survival; without it the average temperature would be around -19oC, some 34OC colder than it is today, rendering human life impossible.  COis an essential part of that blanket and its atmospheric concentration has a critical influence on global climate, acting to retain solar radiation and warm the planet.   

Thus atmospheric CO2, in moderation, is a good thing.  However, like most good things in life, you can have too much of it.  If the current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases continue to escalate, the corresponding warming is likely to render much of the planet uninhabitable.  The challenge is to maintain a sensible balance which can sustain human life.  The empirical evidence has been indicating for some time that, in large part due to excessive CO2 accumulation as a result of human activity, our climatic system is rapidly moving out of balance, and that emergency corrective action is needed.

Excessive COis a pollutant. Unless the pollution cost is fully reflected in the price we pay for using fossil-fuels, these fuels enjoy an unfair advantage over alternatives such as renewable energy.  The longer this advantage is maintained, the greater the distortion of the market, and the less likely we are, as consumers, to change our behaviour away from fossil-fuel use.  Economists call this the “internalization of externalities”, where costs previously ignored, or “externalized”, such as the costs of polluting the atmosphere globally, are now brought to account, “internalized”, as a requirement of doing business. 

In 1945, immediately after WW11, global population was around 2 billion.  Today, only 67 years later, it exceeds 7 billion, headed for 9 billion by 2050, all with understandable aspirations to improve their standard of living – a population explosion unprecedented in world history.  In 1945 the world was relatively empty, today it is full; the inevitable result of the exponential increase in both population and consumption colliding with the limitations a finite planet.  As the Club of Rome pointed out 40 years ago in the  “Limits to Growth” [ i], at some point we would hit global limits which could not be avoided.  That point has now been reach.  Humanity today requires on average the biophysical capacity of 1.5 planets to survive [ ii].  If everyone lived at US levels, we would require 5 planets, at Australian levels around 4 planets.  This cannot continue indefinitely as we are fast destroying the global “commons” of clean air, water and the fertile soil and oceans on which we depend for our food supply and life support.

Since it was published in 1972, the “Limits to Growth” has been roundly criticized as an unrealistic and alarmist “prediction”.  But it was not a prediction; rather it was a set of twelve scenarios which pointed out the implications of population and consumption continuing to grow under differing assumptions. The objective was to encourage debate on alternative paths of world development to avoid the worst outcomes. Unfortunately the insights it provided have been largely ignored, and its core “business-as-usual” scenario is almost exactly what has happened over the intervening 40 years [ iii].  The scenario also showed that we would begin to hit global limits about now, which is also happening.

We have hit limits previously, but they were typically at a local or a regional level which were easily circumvented with technology and/or local regulation.  In a relatively empty world, pollution of various kinds was of less concern than in today’s full world, and the ”externalizing “ of its cost was accepted by default, albeit often in ignorance of the real implications.  As population pressure increased, more local and national regulations were introduced to ensure that community standards were maintained or improved – particularly in regard to the national “commons”, the facilities and environment that are enjoyed by all and owned publicly.  For example, we no longer allow sewage to flow in open gutters, or companies to pollute waterways; we expect business to incorporate the costs of maintaining such standards into their activities.   Thus the costs of pollution began to be “internalized”.

Today, if we want to maintain an environment fit for human habitation, in particular to prevent dangerous global warming, we face the much bigger challenge of preserving the global “commons”, which is forcing the full internalization of the costs of fossil-fuel use and other deleterious human activities.  We already have some experience in addressing global “commons” challenges. For example the 1989 Montreal Protocol, to phase out the global use of chlorofluorcarbons to prevent ozone depletion, has been a great success, but it was a relatively easy task, with a limited number of players.  Global warming is far more difficult, given the dominance of fossil-fuels in the global economy, the sweeping implications of the action required and the inevitable resistance from vested interests determined to maintain the status quo – which requires them to deny any possibility of human-induced global warming notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence to the contrary!.

Carbon pricing is an essential step in accounting for the true cost of using fossil-fuels and in encouraging the development of sustainable alternatives.  But it will not be sufficient by itself; to be effective it has to be combined with other regulatory measures.

Addressing global warming is a daunting challenge, but the solutions are available.  They present the greatest opportunity in human history to set world development on a genuinely sustainable path, for our current way-of-life is not sustainable.  What is lacking is honesty about the challenge, and the collective will to implement the solutions.

What aspects of the Tax do you find noteworthy and/or concerning? 

The “Tax” is part of the government’s Clean Energy Future package [ iv]. The merits of that package can only be properly assessed by being honest about the problem we are trying to solve and that is not yet happening in Australia – the real picture is very different from the “official” view:  

The science of climate change is not settled and, on an issue this complex, it is unlikely to be settled for decades to come.  The scientists are issuing increasingly urgent warnings on the need for action. At the same time they rightly point out the uncertainties involved.  But the fundamentals are clear – the uncertainties relate far more to the impact of the warming (ie: there is no doubt warming is occurring, the uncertainty is whether it will be a 40C or a 70C temperature increase).   

This is about risk management, and our risk exposure is becoming extreme – we cannot wait for certainty when there is a high probability of catastrophic outcomes. As Gordon R. Sullivan, former US Army Chief of Staff, put it in a recent US military climate change report, “If you wait for100% certainty on the battlefield, something bad is going to happen” [ v].  It is time we acknowledged that bad things have been happening for some time in the climate arena.     

There is now unprecedented evidence that human carbon emissions from fossil-fuel consumption and land degradation are, on the balance of probabilities, warming the planet at an accelerating rate [ vi] [ vii] [ viii] [ ix] [ x] [ xi]. The impact is clearly seen in record global surface and ocean temperatures [ xii] [ xiii] [ xiv], rapid Arctic and Antarctic ice volume loss [ xv] [ xvi] [ xvii]  [ xviii],  increasing permafrost carbon and methane emissions [ xix] [ xx]  [ xxi]  [ xxii],  ocean acidification [ xxiii] [ xxiv], potential  reversal of carbon sinks into sources, for example in the Amazon [ xxv] and escalating extreme weather events [ xxvi] [ xxvii]. These major changes are happening at the 0.8oC temperature increase we have already experienced relative to pre-industrial conditions. 

The inertia of the climate system, particularly the slow warming of the oceans, means that the results of our emissions today only become evident decades hence.  Paleoclimate analysis suggests that current global average temperature is around 0.60C above the peak temperature of the Holocene period of the last 10,000 years, during which time humanity as we know it developed.  The thermal inertia of historic emissions is likely to translate, in due course, into a 20C mean temperature increase relative to pre-industrial conditions.  Once equilibrium is reached, this will be sufficient for large parts of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to melt, leading to sea level rises of 6-7 metres over time.   Inter alia, this will be disastrous for major cities such as London, New York, Shanghai and Tokyo to name but a few.    

Even if current climate policies, such as the Clean Energy Future package, were to be fully implemented, rather than regarded as “aspirational”, it is likely the temperature increase would be in excess of 40C [ xxviii], sufficient over time to melt all ice sheets, leading to a sea level rise of around 70 metres [ xxix] [ xxx].   It is unclear how rapidly these changes might occur, but the empirical evidence of Arctic sea ice and ice sheet melt suggests it is happening far faster than expected [ xxxi]. Thus unless we take real action now, we may well be locking in irreversible climate change of catastrophic proportions for future generations; indeed we may have already done so [ xxxii] [ xxxiii].

Other scientific analysis notes that the speed of atmospheric CObuild-up is faster that at any time in recent geological history [ xxxiv], and the risk that climate modelling may have badly underestimated the speed of climate change impact, with current climate policies having virtually no chance of constraining global temperature increase below the “official” United Nations, and Australian [ xxxv], target of 20C, leading to increases in excess of 40C [ xxxvi] [ xxxvii] [ xxxviii]. A particular concern is the triggering of non-linear climatic tipping points, especially the Arctic permafrost, which move global or regional climate to a different equilibrium state, far less favourable to human development [ xxxix]. 

Outside Australia, the world is starting to acknowledge that if catastrophic outcomes and climatic tipping points are to be avoided, on the balance of probabilities the real target to restore a safe climate is to reduce atmospheric carbon concentrations back toward the pre-industrial levels below 350ppm CO2 from the current 392 ppm CO2. This will require emission reductions of the order of 50% by 2020, almost complete de-carbonisation by 2050 and continuing efforts to draw down legacy carbon from the atmosphere [ xl] [ xli] [ xlii] [ xliii]. 

Looked at from a total carbon budget perspective, to have a less than 25% chance of exceeding the 2oC target, the world can only emit a further 800 Gigatonnes CO2 in toto from today, a budget which would be used up in less than 20 years.  Accepting a 50/50 chance allows the budget to increase to 1,200 GtCO2, used up in less than 30 years.  If the temperature target has to be less than 2oC, as now seems likely, the budgets are considerably lower [ xliv].  This requires global emissions to peak in the next year or so, certainly no later than 2020 and then fall in the 4-9% pa range depending on the peak year.  An equitable approach would require developed world emissions to fall rapidly, while developing world emissions continued to rise for a period before also falling. 

Australia’s equitable carbon budget allowance, as one of the highest per capita carbon emitters in the world, would run out in 5-8 years time – in short 100% decarbonisation by 2017-20.  Clearly that is not going to happen if current attitudes prevail, and we have left it far too late technically to achieve this with conventional reform processes. 

Unless there is a radical change in global attitudes toward climate change in the near future, a 40C temperature rise will probably become inevitable. A 4oC world is talked about glibly in policy circles, often to justify greater concentration on the supposedly “politically easier” task of adaptation (managing the unavoidable) as opposed to mitigation (avoiding the unmanageable), but the real implications seem to be little understood outside the scientific community.  The outcome would be catastrophic.  Large parts of the world would be subject to extreme drought, whilst other parts experience intense rainfall [ xlv]. Mean temperature rises around 4OC would mask substantial global variations, with for example far larger increases, 10-16oC, occurring in the Arctic [ xlvi].  Global carrying capacity would probably fall dramatically as food and water availability declines, with a possible reduction in global population to less than 1 billion people from the current 7 billion [ xlvii]. 

As the UK Royal Society put it January 2011, “In such a 4oC world, the limits for human adaptation are likely to be exceeded in many parts of the world, while the limits for adaptation for natural systems would largely be exceeded throughout the world” [ xlviii]. 

When asked at the Melbourne 4 Degree Conference in July 2011 to explain the difference between a 2oC and a 4oC world, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and one of the world’s leading climate scientists, replied simply: ”human civilisation”. 

Not a great message to pass on to your grandchildren. If we have any sense of responsibility to current and future generations, a 4oC world is to be avoided at all costs. Against this background, the Clean Energy Future package is woefully inadequate.   

It was always going to be difficult to introduce carbon pricing, and indeed any measures to address global warming, in an economy dominated by fossil-fuel interests.  Those who have fought long and hard to achieve it deserve every credit for giving us a start down that path, but we should not for a moment think that we are anywhere near the real solutions. 

Some of the positive points in the package are: the provision for regular review to adjust targets in the light of emerging science, in part via the establishment of an independent Climate Change Authority; the introduction of the Carbon Farming Initiative to encourage the sequestration of carbon with innovative farming practices; the carbon price ceiling and floor arrangements to provide some level of certainty for business investment; and the recycling of carbon pricing revenue to the community. 

Negatives are: the inadequacy of the emission reduction targets (5% by 2020 instead of the 50% required); the low initial carbon price; the excessive compensation given to emission-intensive companies who have been well-aware for years that carbon pricing was coming; the escape valve which allows companies to buy a substantial part of their emission permits from overseas thereby slowing innovation in Australia; and the exclusion of transport fuels from carbon pricing.  

As the majority of Australians will be compensated for the additional cost associated with production involving carbon, do you see the Tax as creating real behavioural change? 

The fact that Australians will receive compensation for the additional costs of carbon in the products they consume will not stop behavioural change toward non-carbon consumption.  The cost of carbon-intensive products will rise relative to non-carbon alternatives and thus consumers will tend to purchase the latter, whatever the level of compensation, as it is in their economic interests to do so.  Certainly if the carbon price remains low, there will be those who may just prefer to pay the higher price, which is one reason why the price must rise relatively quickly to develop the momentum for change, and why pricing must be combined with regulatory changes. 

It also highlights the need to remove current substantial subsidies for carbon-intensive products.  There is little point in compensating consumers for the additional costs of carbon pricing whilst at the same time artificially reducing the price of carbon-intensive products with subsidies which encourage consumers to use more of them.  

What are the issues you would like addressed regarding investing in Australia’s renewable energy sector?

Any fledgling industry such as renewables needs, above all, policy consistency so that investors have confidence to proceed with some degree of certainty in developing innovative products and services.  The track record of both Federal and State government in Australia in this regard has been appalling, with continual changes to policy discouraging innovation and investment.  That continues to be the case, as we have seen with recent changes to legislation for the solar industry. 

In large part this has been due to a lack of commitment by successive governments to address the real climate change challenge.  Carbon pricing will finally begin in July this year; it is a necessary step, but not sufficient to generate the extent and speed of change we need. It must be combined with continuing regulation to force the pace toward low-carbon alternatives (eg tighter vehicle emission standards, building standards, encouragement of public transport and the like).  

At the same time, technology is moving extremely fast and governments must be careful to avoid picking winners.  They should set the market framework to give clear direction toward a low-carbon economy, which means being far more honest about the real emission reductions we have to achieve. The market should then sort out which technologies come to the top of the pile, whether these are renewables, nuclear or other options such as efficiency and conservation of energy – we are going to need them all.  

There is also a need for government, and wealthy individuals, to provide greater seed money for low-carbon technologies in the early stage of development.  

What is the significance of having a carbon tax given that in the coming years China and the US might choose to negotiate sanctions on countries that do not meet global standards on carbon reduction mechanisms? 

Notwithstanding the fire and brimstone around the climate change debate at present, carbon pricing will become the norm globally over the next few years.  Certainly there is a long way to go to get realistic solutions in place, but China and India are already well down the carbon pricing track, and the EU has been there for some time.  But these steps are not just as precautions against climate change; those countries see an enormous economic advantage in becoming leaders in low-carbon technologies.  The US will at some stage follow them in its own economic interests, but that may take some time given the entrenched ideologies dominating US politics. 

As climate-related natural disasters continue to mount, and political and corporate leaders continue to procrastinate on taking real steps to address climate change, we will see increasing legal action to force the pace of change, along with civil disobedience.  Sanctions may well form part of this process.  Having a carbon price in place may be a mitigating factor, but the real test will be the effectiveness and consistency of each countries’ overall carbon reduction plan.   

Australia’s political and corporate leaders who have created our current predicament will be particularly exposed to legal action. The resistance to accepting the implications of climate change is well documented [ xlix] [ l] [ li].  At virtually every turn in the tortuous path of climate reform over the last two decades, vested interests have dominated, determined to slow reform, maximizing compensation and escape clauses, without regard to the longer-term implications.  Gradually, as the evidence has mounted, outright denial has given way publicly to grudging lip service to the need for action [ lii], but with an emphasis on adaptation, whilst lobbyists seek continuing delay [ liii]. 

Successive governments have either not believed the science, or have been brow-beaten into adopting minimalist reform agendas, which are largely meaningless in the context of the real problem. Statesmanship and leadership are notably absent. 

The resource sector is forging ahead with fossil fuel developments, determined to squeeze the last drop of juice out of the “China-boom”. For example tripling coal exports over the next fifteen years, expansion of LNG exports and the establishment of a coal seam gas industry with major investment in mines, railways, ports and processing facilities – but with no proven means of sequestering the associated carbon emissions. These developments will offset many times over any emission reductions through measures such as the Clean Energy Future package. – a case of moral hazard which will come back to bite both governments and proponents err long.

The result is that despite the current boom-time wisdom, from a longer-term perspective Australia has ended up in the worst of all possible worlds.   The science is clearly indicating the need for radical action toward a low-carbon economy. The vested interests ignore these calls, continue to undermine any sensible reform and, by special pleading render ineffective even the minimalist reform proposed in the interests of short-term advantage.  In the process, sound policy instruments such as emissions trading are discredited due to the political horsetrading as governments bow to vested interest pressure.  Lack of certainty on a carbon price has stunted the growth of fledgling alternative energy industries, stifled consumer behavioural change and, combined with conflicting regulatory measures, led to non-optimal short-term decisions, whilst the strong research capability which Australia developed in many low carbon technologies has departed to more fertile investment climates overseas. 

Business demands leadership from government whilst, with a few notable exceptions, showing little itself, and both main political parties lack the stomach to take on the vested interests.  So we fall back into the comfort zone of our dig-it-up and ship-it-out high carbon mindset.  In so doing, we are making arguably the greatest strategic error in Australia’s history. 

 For while Australia is, in effect, moving backwards on climate change reform, the rest of the world is accelerating.  The Chinese, other Asian countries, Europe and the US are all now vying for leadership in the low carbon economy.  A decade hence, with the climate science better understood and mounting extreme weather disasters, it is likely that the incremental demand for our high carbon products will evaporate.  Australia at that point will be left with a large inventory of stranded assets, minimal investment in low carbon alternative energy and little resilience to weather the impact of climate change and other resource shortages such as peak oil.  

The irony is that Australia has some of the best low-carbon resources and opportunities in the world [ liv] [ lv], which we seem determined to ignore.  As Ross Garnaut put it: “: “Australia’s advantages as a low-cost supplier of energy and raw materials are likely to be even greater after a successful transition to a low-carbon economy than they are in a world in which fossil fuels dominate energy supply”. [ lvi]  

 What are the implications of the Durban UNFCCC meeting which took place in December 2011?

Climate change is essentially risk management and recent evidence of its impact around the world, particularly in the Arctic, emphasises as never before, the extreme risks to which humanity is now exposed.   For example, the permafrost contains around 5 times the total amount of carbon emitted by humans since the Industrial Revolution.  If its thawing accelerates, and there are early signs this may be happening, we may have little means of preventing it.  Over time this would be catastrophic, probably leading to global mean temperature increasing well over the 4oC I mentioned earlier, with a dramatic reduction in global population.  

Our inaction today may well be guaranteeing such an outcome.  This highlights the total inadequacy and empty rhetoric of the so-called “ Platform for Enhanced Action” agreed at the Durban UNFCCC Climate Conference last December.  The proposal is to negotiate an agreement by 2015, for implementation from 2020, which means it will have little effect for years afterwards. 

Human emissions are at an all-time high, growing faster than ever, The permafrost thaw is most likely accelerating rapidly and globally there are many other signs of accelerating climate change impact. The human and economic cost of the increasing extreme weather events around the world is mounting inexorably.  We continue to expand the use of fossil-fuels while none of the supposed technological fixes for human emissions, such as carbon capture and storage, are working.  In such circumstances, the only solution, if we seriously intend to address climate change, is to initiate emergency action by adopting a war-footing to accelerate the development of low-carbon economies in the limited time we have available – a view which is gaining increasing traction around the world.    

To wait another decade or two before initiating serious action, which is what Durban effectively represents, is nothing less than suicidal.  

What is the most critical issue in the climate change debate for 2012?

Perhaps the greatest flaw in the climate debate has been our inability, or refusal, to address risk and uncertainty realistically.  

Scientists are giving increasingly urgent warnings on the mounting evidence of human-induced warming and the need for rapid carbon emission reductions.  Officialdom chooses to ignore these warnings, preferring policy based on “political realism”, shorthand for hoping the problem will go away.  Business, supposedly the experts on risk management, should take leadership, but have abrogated any responsibility, given that realistic action will require a fundamental redesign of the economic system, undermining established vested interests.  The result is that nobody is seriously addressing the strategic risks to which we are exposed.      

The history of the last two decades has demonstrated that conventional politics and business are incapable of handling this issue in a realistic manner. Leadership is totally lacking in both arenas; global and national institutions are failing here, just as they are failing to address the financial crisis – on both counts economic growth is the problem, not the solution. Climate change is now a far bigger risk than any financial crisis and yet the real effort devoted to managing it is miniscule in comparison. 

In this context, the critical issue for 2012 is to gain acceptance of the fact that we have no choice, if we are serious about addressing climate change, to move the economy on to the emergency war-footing I mentioned earlier to accelerate the pace of change, and to build coalitions to implement such action.  This must encompass:   

  • broader awareness throughout the community of: the real climate challenge; the inability of conventional reform processes to respond to the extent, and in the time, required; the failure of “official” solutions and hence the need for emergency action. 
  • recognition that these dilemmas present an unprecedented opportunity, economically and socially, to set national and world development on a genuinely sustainable path. 
  • developing new mechanisms to preserve the global “commons” which, with community support, go around conventional politics and vested interests.   
  • consistency in government policy.  It is totally irresponsible to proclaim on the one hand our resolve to tackle climate change, and on the other hand to encourage the dramatic expansion of Australian carbon exports. It is time to acknowledge that those same carbon exports, along with domestic carbon consumption, are contributing to the natural disasters which have cost the Australian community dearly in recent years, as the latest science is demonstrating.

 Leadership by women is essential as the next stage of the climate battle unfolds, particularly in bringing perspectives to the debate other than conventional business and politics, and in highlighting our moral and ethical responsibilities to future generations [ lvii].  


[ i] “The Limits to Growth”, Club of Rome, 1972.

[ ii] “ Living Planet Report 2010”, Global Footprint Network.

[ iii] “A Comparison of the Limits to Growth with Thirty Years of Reality”, G Turner, CSIRO, June 2008. 

[ iv] “Securing a Clean Energy Future”, Australian Federal Government, July 2011.

[ v] “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change”, CNA Corporation, 2007.

[ vi] “The Physical Science Basis”, Fourth Assessment Report, International Panel on Climate Change, 2007

[ vii] “Synthesis Report”, Richardson et al, Copenhagen Climate Conference March 2009. 

[ viii] “The Copenhagen Diagnosis” Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW, November 2009.

[ ix] “Climate Change – A Summary of the Science”, Royal Society, London, September 2010

[ x] “The Critical Decade: Climate Science, Risks, Responses”, Climate Commission Australia, May 2011

[ xi] “America’s Climate Choices”, National Academy of Sciences, May 2011

[ xii] Goddard Institute for Space Science, NASA

[ xiii] “State of the Climate, Global Analysis 2010”, NOAA, January 2011

[ xiv] World Meteorological Organisation,  20 January 2010

[ xv] “Is Antarctica Melting?”, NASA, January 2010

[ xvi] Polar Science Centre, University of Washington.

[ xvii] “Arctic Report Card”, NOAA, October 2010.

[ xviii] Ice-Sheet Disintegration, Veligcogna/Hansen, 2010. 

[ xix] “Modelling Permafrost on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf”, Nickolsky/Shakhova, April 2010.

[ xx] “East Siberian Arctic Shelf De-stabilising and Venting, Climate progress, March 2010.

[ xxi] “Thawing permafrost will accelerate global warming in decades to come”, US National Snow & Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), 16 February 2011

[ xxii] “Permafrost Carbon-Climate Feedbacks Accelerate Global Warming”, Charles D. Koven et al, PNAS July 2011

[ xxiii] “Oceans are Acidifying Ten Times faster today —-“ Climate Progress

[ xxiv] “Effects of Ocean Acidification”, Ridgwell/Schmidt, environment360, February 2010

[ xxv] “The 2010 Amazon Drought”, Lewis et al, University of Leeds

[ xxvi] “Natural Catastrophes in 2010”, Munich Re, January 2011.

[ xxvii] “Shaping Climate-Resilient Development”, ECA 2009.

[ xxviii] “Climate Scoreboard”, Climateinteractive, September 2011

[ xxix] “Paleoclimate Implications for Human-made Climate Change”, Hansen & Sato, NASA GISS & Columbia University Earth Institute, July 2011

[ xxx] “Earth Energy Imbalance and Implications”, Hansen, Sato, Kharecha & von Schuckmann, NASA GISS & Columbia University Earth Institute, August 2011

[ xxxi] “Arctic Sea Ice Volume”, Neven, Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington: 

[ xxxii] “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions”, Solomon et al, NOAA, PNAS December 2008

[ xxxiii] “Rethinking a Safe Climate – have we already gone too far?”, David Spratt, 23 January 2011

[ xxxiv] “The Last Great Global Warming”, Lee R Kump, Scientific American, July 2011

[ xxxv] ibid “Securing a Clean Energy Future”, Australian Federal Government, July 2011.

[ xxxvi] “Models Guiding Climate Policy are Dangerously Optimistic”, Kevin Anderson, The Guardian, 24 February 2011

[ xxxvii] “ Reframing the Climate Change Challenge in the Light of Post-2000 emission Trends”, Anderson & Bows, Royal Society UK, 2008

[ xxxviii], “Beyond dangerous climate change: emission scenarios for a new world”, Anderson & Bows, Royal Society UK 2011

[ xxxix] “Tipping Elements in the Earth’s Climate System”, Lenton et al., PNAS 2008

[ xl] “Target Atmospheric CO– Where Should Humanity Aim?, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA, December 2008

[ xli] Hans Joachin Schellnhuber, Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, Guardian 15 September 2008. 

[ xlii] “Climate Code Red”, 2008.

[ xliii] “Transition Plan Strategic Framework”, Safe Climate Australia, November 2009. 

[ xliv] “Greenhouse gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2oC”, Meinhausen et al, Nature, April 2009. 

[ xlv] “Climate Change: Drought may threaten much of globe within decades”, Aiguo Dai, NCAR, October 2010

[ xlvi] “4oC Global Warming: regional patterns and timing”, Richard Betts et al, Hadley Centre, UK Met Office, Oxford 4 Deg Conference, September 2009

[ xlvii] “4 Degrees Hotter”, Climate Action Centre Primer, David Spratt , 14 February 2011

[ xlviii] “Four Degrees and Beyond – the potential for a global temperature increase of four degrees and its implications”, Royal Society Transactions, January 2011

[ xlix] “High & Dry”, Guy Pearse, 2007.

[ l] “Scorcher”, Clive Hamilton, 2007. 

[ li] “Climate Change and the Australian Reform Agenda”, Dr. Martin Parkinson, Sir Leslie Melville Lecture 28 June 2010, ANU.

[ lii] Speech to the Australian British Chamber of Commerce, Marius Kloppers, CEO BHP Billiton, 15 September 2010

[ liii] Michael Hitchens, AIGN, in “Climate Cuts Must Continue” SMH 7 February 2011

[ liv] “Zero Carbon Australia 2020”, Beyond Zero Emissions, June 2010. 

[ lv] Desertec Australia. 

[ lvi] Garnaut Review Update Paper 2, P6, February 2011: 

[ lvii] “The Case for Young People and Nature: A Path to a Healthy, Natural, Prosperous Future”, James Hansen et al, Columbia University, NY, May 2011

If you are interested in backup information on the content of this interview, you might like to view the following resources: 1. Corporate Governance in the Anthropocene.

My recent paper at the Club of Rome conference on the “Future of Energy and Interconnected Challenges” (Basel, Switzerland Oct 2011) amplifies much of this presentation. Arctic permafrost thaw. American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco in December had some concerning material on the latest Arctic research. AMP Amplify Festival June 2011. Club of Rome Peak Oil animation of one of my presentations:

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