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Issue #1610      September 11, 2013

Editorial

Both major parties sideline climate change

Unless environmental damage and climate change are brought under control, global catastrophe will result from a collapse of the planet’s ecosystem. The environmental crisis has been largely created by the rapacious exploitation of the Earth’s resources by the capitalist ruling class. Ignoring present warnings, it continues to aggravate the crisis with a callous and reckless disregard for the consequences of its activities. The response of governments in the developed capitalist countries to the climate crisis shows greater interest in safeguarding corporate profits than the environment.

The need for a sustainable environment is overpowering. Yet both Labor and the Coalition have hardly uttered a word about it during the election campaign. It is the Greens who ran strongly on this crucial issue.

In Australia the climate nightmare is real and happening now. Soil salination, desertification and deforestation, pollution of the air and freshwater systems, destruction of waterways and a major loss of bio-diversity began after the country’s occupation by Britain in 1788.

The Labor and Liberal Party leaderships are huge recipients of donations from the sections of big business responsible for the nation’s worst emissions, and not surprisingly are subservient to their wishes to the detriment of the environment.

The maximum participation of workers, unions and community is needed for this shift in industry and jobs to succeed. Decent work and job creation are central to sustainable development because workers and workplaces are at the centre of production and consumption in society and have a key place in transforming production at all levels.

To alleviate some of the worst features of the environmental crisis there needs to be planning and controlling development taking into account that environmental factors. Further privatisation of Australia’s electricity generation, distribution and supply infrastructure must be opposed.

A national energy plan needs to be developed, with legislated timetables and targets, for transition to an ecologically sustainable energy system.

Big investment in research and development of alternative renewable energy sources under public ownership is part of the solution. These provide the means for the creation of a base energy load for industry, homes and other needs.

Make energy efficiency and conservation key determinants of urban planning and government economic and industry policy. Also the provision of incentives to encourage consumers to choose renewable energy technologies and the transference of subsidies and government support from fossil and nuclear fuel sectors to energy efficiency and renewable energy, including research and development and conversion programs.

These should be implemented with the introduction of tax deductions for investment in sustainable energy technologies and allow accelerated depreciation on businesses making investments in research and renewable generating technology.

These should be reinforced by the greater use and development of public transport. The power of the car transnationals must be curbed so urban planning can be for people, not for cars. The provision of new public transport infrastructure, more frequent and more reliable public transport services that are publicly owned and operated, and new services to outer suburbs, would result in thousands fewer cars on the roads, and would also generate many jobs in areas of need. At the same time as reducing the number of cars on the roads, provisions should also be developed for cyclists.

Country and regional rail lines for freight and passenger services should be reopened under public control to make a substantial reduction in pollution as well as providing cheaper, safer and more reliable services.

In addition, there needs to be the restoration of Australia’s water systems and provision of adequate safe drinking water for communities through co-ordinated national planning and a willingness to take on the powerful cotton and rice-growing corporations.

All uranium mines in Australia should be shut down and contracts cancelled for the export of uranium. Also oppose the siting of nuclear waste dumps in Australia.

Next article – The Coalition’s aged care cuts

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