Naomi Klein is a truly shocking writer. Read her latest 466 closely typed pages and 60 more of notes in her latest book “This Changes Everything” and you will not fail to be shocked by many of the thousands of revelations therein. (Now available at Chiang Mai bookstores ).
Clearly though, in the lead up to this years Paris Climate Talks U.S. President Barak Obama, if he has read Naomi, has chosen with his recent announcement of greenhouse gas emissions targets in coming decades to ignore her dire warnings and Paris seems set for a feel good “success” while the ice melts and millions die. Naomi however will likely shrug and say “told you so”.
Victoria, the southern most mainland state of the Commonwealth of Australia however aims to be a “Climate Leader” and has called called for submissions to a panel reviewing its Climate Act. Below is a personal submission and one which having but a smattering of detail raises issues either omitted by Naomi or left unclear such as Cuba, Yugoslavia, the Grand Tour and Cut Flowers.
To: The Victorian Climate Change Act Review Panel
My interest in the challenge of a heating world goes back many years. During the period of the Cain and Kirner governments 1982-92 I served as a member of the ALP Conservation and Environment Policy committee and also for a time on its Transport Policy committee.
During that period my comrades and I became aware of the negative environmental impacts and expanding Melbourne metropolis was having and especially the destruction caused by expanding roads infrastructure at the expense of public and bicycle transport.
During the period of John Cain’s Premiership the government introduced a State Conservation Strategy and in considering the draft document I noticed that the officers had omitted reference to the issue of climate change and at my initiative this omission was corrected, and to my knowledge became the first Victorian Government policy document to recognise the problem.
I regret to say that over the following years governments have not taken this issue to heart but on the contrary have promoted expansionist economic agendas which have greatly increased Victoria’s carbon footprint.
In answering the government’s brief to review the Climate Change Act a heavy weight falls upon the shoulders of the reviewers and I urge you to approach your task with due humility. You may have experience in areas such as carbon trading, please put this aside and invite fresh minds to join in preparing advice for the parliament.
Just as my comrades and I failed to stem the freeway construction tide a generation ago, the framers of the Kyoto protocol have failed to stem, let alone reverse, greenhouse gas emissions. The time for setting targets for the gradual reduction of emissions to effect necessary change has past.
Since the last review of Victoria’s climate laws it appears much has changed for the worse.
Take for example this recent Rolling Stone story replete with tales of looming extinction of much of life on Earth : http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-point-of-no-return-climate-change-nightmares-are-already-here-20150805
Looking at http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ how close are we to the methyl clathrate tipping point which would make irrelevant any attempts to slow global warming by eliminating fossil fuel combustion?The views of http://ameg.me/ appeared to be ignored.
Melbourne author David Spratt in his blog http://www.climatecodered.org/ explains how any continued fossil fuel combustion is incompatible with human civilization. He calls for an emergency response along the lines of the full economic and social mobilization of the Allies in the face of the threat of Axis in the 1940s. Together with the Soviet command economy this mobilization defeated Axis.
David’s approach may sound alarming. What will happen to our freedoms we may ask?
Better to ask “What will happen to the freedom of the 80?” . Who are the 80? They are the richest in the world who between them have as much wealth as all the rest of humanity. These are the people, as Naomi Klein details in “This Changes Everything” who have engineered the present economic system through the development of the World Trade Organisation and its rules which override national, state and local governments and their efforts to build green economies and deny Third World countries the means to care for their people by the fraud of intellectual property rights.
And the 80 run the world and the politicians whether we elect them or not. The 80 have locked us into life and production practices which are destroying life on Earth. Victorians need to be made aware of this if the state is to play a leadership role in the climate struggle, and this awareness needs to be taken forcefully to Paris to lobby every national delegation to the upcoming climate talks later this year.
Returning to the analogy of war time mobilisation I recall my grandmother who lived in Melbourne from the age of four talking about her taking a grand tour of “the Continent” during the early 1930’s and describing Budapest as the most beautiful city in the world. Of course come the outbreak of war in 1939 intercontinental touring came to an abrupt stop.
The perils the world faces today are far worse than the Nazi and Japanese horrors and a rational response today would likewise be to end intercontinental tourism. Just as the USA suspended auto manufacture overnight and turned to building the means of war, industrial societies today need to abandon enterprises such as oil and gas prospecting, or willfully trivial trade such as airfreight of cut flowers and in fact practically everything apart from life preserving medical supplies or famine relief. These activities do not warrant a phased shut down but immediate action.
The second world war was seen as an opportunity for some in the banking and resources sectors for enrichment and while nations suffered some in business prospered. The social benefits of private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange and of so-called intellectual property are now far outweighed by the monstrous economic machine that is its creation.
Victorian law needs to be a leader in requiring all enterprises be jointly managed by the workers and the communities they serve. This law needs to be applied comprehensively so that no foreign board rooms will be deciding what goes in Victoria. This was the model of socialism which was very successful in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In many cases this will involve closing down of previous production and converting resources to sustainable processing, and there are examples in the west where new cooperative enterprises have prospered under such arrangements.
Another example which could serve as a beacon for Victoria, is the sudden transformation of the Cuban economy with its industrialised export oriented agricultural sector from one highly dependent on oil when the demise of Comecon brought this to a halt. The change forced Cubans to desist from motoring and millions of bicycles were provided for the people who showed a marked improvement in their cardio-vascular health. Also a team of Victorian Permiculture specialists traveled to Cuba during this Special Period and introduced measures to improve nutrition.
It is said that during the hardships of World War II in England under the Nazi blitz, there was never-the-less a strong fighting spirit and unity among the people. The challenge for Victoria which unlike many parts of the world presently suffering terrible suffering from climate changing floods and extremes of heat and cold is better placed to make changes and ensure social justice, is to build a new community spirit to transform our economy and our relations with each other and our mother Earth.
I give permission for my submission to be published by the review committee .
Might one hope that the Thai delegation to Paris, unlike the government with its head firmly buried in the sand, picks up some points and provides a positive influence on the talks?