Local MP Invites Community Comment on Carbon Price

Filed under How-To Centre

Local member for Fraser, Dr Andrew Leigh MP, held a community forum on 2 May 2011 to explain the Federal Government’s policy on climate change and the pricing of carbon.

There was a high turnout, despite little notice of the event, showing the strong local interest in these issues. There appeared to be no climate denialists in the audience, or at least none that expressed this view. If anything, many people who asked questions or made comments wanted to see more action from the Government.

Here is a snapshot of some of the issues and views raised by members of the audience in question time:

  • The Government’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 5 per cent is not ambitious enough. Greater cuts in emissions are needed urgently;
  • There is too much talk and not enough action. Existing roadmaps can help guide the transition to a low carbon economy eg the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 strategy of Beyond Zero Emissions and the University of Melbourne;
  • How can we reduce the costs to households and industry of cutting carbon emissions?  At the same time, how can we avoid compensating companies to such a degree that they have no incentive to restructure to reduce their carbon emissions?
  • There are problems with gas as a transition fuel, in particular the threat to water quality posed by the “fracking” technique used to release gas from coal seams;
  • The Government needs to show greater leadership in presenting a positive vision to the community about the economic and other benefits of moving to a low carbon economy, and about how both Government and community can contribute to the transition;
  • Agriculture can play an important role eg agriculture has been included in New Zealand’s scheme. Methane emissions from the livestock industry are more potent greenhouse gases than carbon. There are opportunities to sequester carbon through forestry, and through farming practices;
  • Climate change is not only a political issue, but also a moral issue and there is a need for an international perspective;
  • Several issues are converging, including climate change, food security and peak oil, and need to be addressed;
  • How can you reconcile the planet’s finite natural resources with a continuously growing economy? Do we have to choose between a steady state economy with low emissions and a high growth economy with high emissions? Can you have both a strong economy and low carbon economy? Can the shift to a services-based economy help to achieve this?

In closing the forum, Dr Leigh called for more members of the community to make their views known on these issues by writing letters, blogging, and calling radio talkback shows.

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