This week our government announced the Emission Reductions Targets that it proposes to take to the Paris. This target is 26% to 28% reductions by 2030 based on 2005 levels. This target is well below the recommendations from the Climate Change Authority which are a trajectory range from 40 to 60 percent below 2000 levels and in fact the emissions levels in Australia were particularly high in 2005 in comparison to 2000, if you compare the new targets to emission reductions from the year 2000 the reductions are below 20%
So I thought to myself who decides on this target, no one asked me? Which stakeholders are involved and how does this work. I know the Climate Change Authority is the science based organisation that provides guidance to the government. I have read an article from Save the Children Fund discussing how climate change will impact the lives of children and therefore our future generations. Both of these groups of stakeholders believe the reductions should be closer to 40% to 60%
Save the Children is calling on the Australian government to help reduce the impact of climate change on children by:
- Achieving a bipartisan, ambitious, binding and just post-2020 climate change agreement to limit global temperature increases to below 2 degrees Celsius
- Committing to a reduction of Australia’s domestic net emissions by at least 40% below 2000 levels by 2025, and 60% below 2000 levels by 2030 and zero net carbon emissions by 2050
- Phasing out fossil fuel use and making long-term investments in the renewable energy sector
- Immediately restoring the aid budget to $5 billion per year and increasing investments in child-centred climate change adaptation programming in the Asia-Pacific region
Dovers 2013 enlightened me on public participation and policy making. Firstly they state the public should be more involved in policy making. Dovers talks about the degree of participation relating it to how much power is assigned to the government or populace. I feel that the power in this decision making swings heavily toward the government in a top down approach in this instance. The advice from experts, NGO’s and civil society groups were not taken seriously and for policy these groups represent the voice of the people. Dovers state participation whatever degree or kind should be genuine, not offered to placate the public or as a pretence to participation. Participation should be sustained and not turned of and on at convenience. I feel the government has not listed to the expert advise or community concern and have ‘switched off’ to the voice of the people
Focusing on the logic of participation and ability to participate, as Dovers states there are bigger issues related to democracy and the influence that political and industry groups have over environmental decision making. For example the Mining Industry influence in the anti carbon tax advertising campaign.
Based on Dovers reasons why it would be beneficial to involve public participation. Pg 173
Ideologically the affects of emissions reductions now will affect us not only now but for the future. By not taking action now this government is delaying the problems for future generations. Future generations whose voices cannot be heard now are represented but experts and civil society.
Mistrust – many media outlets are now discussing the growing publics mistrust in the Coalition government on climate change. In addition the conversation highlights the different framing of the current emissions reductions varying between media outlets.
the Daily Telegraph attacks on Labor’s climate policy – the way for a “responsible”-looking policy from the Coalition, citing rising power bills, job losses and a collapsing economy.
The Australian revealed that while Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Environment Minister Greg Hunt lobbied for a more ambitious target of 30% at the cabinet meeting prior to the announcement
The Climate Council’s Tim Flannery, so often pilloried by The Australian, comments ……But no amount of smoke and mirrors will cover up the fact that an emissions reduction target of 40% on 2000 levels by 2030 is the bare minimum and this target is far below that.”
Experience – utilizing different policy approachs, the government can look at the experience of other ETS and make improvements.
Recognise that local communities possess knowledge and information – Listening to the knowledge and evidence from different community groups such as Save the Children and Climate Change Authority
In Australia we are one of the largest polluters globally and we continue to lag behind other countries. This emissions target policy clearly shows that the influencing stakeholders are government and industry groups which do not want Australia to move toward a cleaner economy. I think we as a community need to find better ways to have our voices heard. The community needs to be more involved in environmental debates to personalise the climate change issue. Let’s hope the next election the public voice is heard.