The Rudd government claims to be serious about reaching a deal at international climate change negotiations at Copenhagen in December. In late October Rudd agreed to become one of three lead negotiators who would try to broker a deal.
But the Australian government has been caught out demanding special exemptions to avoid cutting emissions. Australia’s climate policy is far less about effective climate action and far more about the illusion of action.
The government wants to change the rules so it can count carbon stored in Australian forests to claim emissions reductions. Clauses it is pushing would cut Australia’s emissions targets by 8 per cent for doing nothing, according to Greenpeace Australia-Pacific.
A further scam comes as a result of the government’s plans under the CPRS to allow companies to buy unlimited overseas “offsets” to prevent them having to reduce emissions.
Australian negotiators want forest offsets included in the agreement, with the aim of making offsets as cheap to buy as possible. Offsets have been heavily criticised, since they can be used to claim credit for projects which were already going to happen, and are hard to regulate.
The Copenhagen negotiations will also be plagued by a North-South divide. There will be no useful outcome at Copenhagen if the developed world including Australia demands that the developing world commit, in essence, to forfeiting industrial development.
Developed countries like Australia owe an historical debt to developing countries, many of which are already suffering the consequences of climate change. The Australian government has acknowledged there must be aid money given to developing countries to help deal with these consequences and assist their shift to renewable energy.
Yet Australia has refused so far to offer a tangible figure on aid it is prepared to offer—despite the fact it will be one of the primary destinations for the millions of climate refugees if the South cannot adapt to climate change.
The World Bank, hardly a radical organisation, has estimated US$400 billion is needed by 2030. African Union leaders are demanding $65 billion annually until 2020, according to South African academic Patrick Bond.
Ordinary people around the world are showing high levels of global support for reaching a climate solution in the lead up to Copenhagen. Now more than ever Australia needs a climate movement that condemns the government’s market mechanisms, compensation for polluters and scams that will ensure failure at Copenhagen.

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