Vote 1 Climate

A Queensland University survey of more than 300 politicians released last week shows a clear majority believe that climate change is happening, but many appear to be unsure about the consequences. More than 40% of the politicians who responded to the survey believe the planet could safely warm by four degrees despite scientific warnings that a global temperature increase of two degrees or more would be dangerous.

At the recent Clean Energy For Eternity forum in Bermagui, most of the Eden Monaro candidates seemed to have an understanding that climate change presents our region with a threat. It was very pleasing to see that each of the candidates supported renewable energy, and there was hardly a single excuse for inaction all evening.

50/50 by 2020 is all about turning that threat of climate change into an opportunity. 50/50 by 2020 is a challenging but achievable target, and striving to meet it will launch our region into a position of leadership. I am confident we can meet it. With the approval of the Boco Rock wind farm near Nimmitabel, and the wave generation project in Eden, things are moving fast. South East NSW has one of the highest rates of home ownership of solar photovoltaic cells, and you will hear in the next week or two about progress that Clean Energy For eternity has made with community owned solar farms in SE NSW.

Local solar companies are expanding rapidly and are working hard to keep up with the growing demand for renewable energy products. The South East has just seen one of the largest bulk buy deals for solar photovoltaic cells ever seen in Australia. The cost of solar cells has more than halved since I installed panels on my roof top three years ago. Hundreds of people are employed in the solar industry in our part of the world, and our region is only just getting started.

The science is telling us that climate change will be the biggest threat our region has ever faced. The last time that the planet was two degrees hotter was about 125 million years ago. Sea level was about 6m higher and the world was a very different place. A two degree warming by the end of the century is the best we can expect if we see strong global action on climate change. Unfortunately we are not seeing anything like the sort of action that would limit warming to two degrees.

Vote for strong action on climate change and help our region turn a threat into an opportunity.
Matthew Nott

Political Forum sees candidates address climate change

Narooma News 11/8/10

Forum Four: Dr Matthew Nott convened the meeting at Bermagui where four candidates for Eden Monaro formed a panel to discuss climate change. The candidates pictured are Catherine Moore (The Greens), Ray Buckley (Independant), David Gazard (Liberal Party), and mike Kelly (ALP).
Forum Four: Dr Matthew Nott convened the meeting at Bermagui where four candidates for Eden Monaro formed a panel to discuss climate change. The candidates pictured are Catherine Moore (The Greens), Ray Buckley (Independant), David Gazard (Liberal Party), and mike Kelly (ALP).

AROUND 220 local residents attended a political forum on climate change at the Bermagui Country Club on Monday evening.

The meeting was convened by Dr Matthew Nott and Prue Kelly from Clean Energy For Eternity (CEFE) and hosted a panel that included four candidates for the crucial seat of Eden-Monaro in our upcoming national election.

Invited speakers were Dr Mike Kelly (ALP and sitting member), David Gazard (Liberal Party), (Greens Party and Palerang Councillor) and Ray Buckley (Independent).

Also present were Family First candidate, Tom Gradwell, Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan and State Member for Bega, Andrew Constance.

Introductions preceded brief opening comments by each candidate and Senator Heffernan, addressing three crucial aspects of Dr Nott’s CEFE manifesto.

That is, whether panel members acknowledge climate change is, by and large, human-induced; if they support Eden-Monaro as a renewable energy investment region; and wish to adopt CEFE’s “50/50 by 2020” community and shire council carbon-abatement targets.

A series of structured questions followed from representatives of community groups, including Carol Cockburn from Four Winds Festival, Bronte Somerset from SERCA, Ann Wilson from Transition Towns, Tas Fitzer from Voices For Justice and Peter Essex from GetUp.

Many issues were raised, including arts funding, continued old-growth logging and burning of woodchips as biomass fuel, peak oil and public transport, food production and sustainable population, climate change effects on poorer countries and Australia’s overseas aid as well as mental health funding and services for children and adolescents.

In turn each panel member responded, articulating their party’s policies and personal views on those topics.

Mosman Councillor and solar farm project co-ordinator, Warren Yates, outlined his group’s funding activities and delicate government negotiations. A federal election was announced just as it seemed their project would be approved. Following this unexpected caretaker period Yates’ group will persevere and are confident of success.

When it came to question time from the public there ensued robust exchanges of views on the floor but not so much from the panel. One subject that elicited considerable passion was marine park management.

The response of Greens’ candidate, Ms Moore, extolling bio-diversity and sustainable fishing, drew sustained applause. She referred to the fossil fuel lobby’s staunch resistance to change and the Government’s paltry Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).

At one point panel chairperson, Dr Nott, quipped that any “non-controversial” questions would be welcome.

Another was posed relating to the previous Government’s Work Choices’ legislation.

Liberal candidate Mr Gazard answered with great conviction that any such notion is “dead, cremated and buried”. He also indicated the Coalition has earmarked $1.6 billion for mental health provision. He warned about possible unjustifiable burdens on Australia’s economy and international trade from rash decisions on climate change.

Independent candidate Mr Buckley stressed the difficulties faced by the poor and pensioners in meeting increasing costs of power and water. He criticised the influence of banks and larger corporate interests in Government decision-making. While advocating all forms of renewable energy, Buckley also recommends bamboo and hemp plantations replace dependence upon old-growth forest destruction.

Dr Kelly spoke of his long-term commitment to renewable energy, and of several impressive regional projects approved and/or funded by the Government, including E.ON bio-diesel, Carnegie Wave Energy site off Eden and Wind Prospect wind turbine development in the high country.

The Labor incumbent seemed well at ease providing information on Government policies and programs, though there was some disquiet about his apparent support for Eden’s proposed wood-fired biomass power plant, aligning himself with opponent Mr Gazard.

The evening concluded with convenors, panellists, community groups and electors pleased to be involved in an informative and constructive forum. If there was to be a consensus outcome from the meeting, it would be that climate change and environmental degradation should be addressed in a multi-faceted, comprehensive manner, and certainly, the sooner, the better.
Impact of rising electricity costs

At the recent forum with Eden Monaro candidates in Bermagui, I asked the candidates how their policies would help low-income households cope with rising power costs. Catherine Moore of the Greens was the only candidate to have a clear policy that specifically assists people on low incomes.

Increases in power costs hit low-income households the hardest as they do not have the capital to invest in renewable sources like solar hot water and photovoltaic systems. Many are renters.

As a home sustainability assessor, I visit many householders in the Bega Valley. The growing number of people who cannot afford to heat their homes or pay power bills increasingly concerns me. Last week, an assessment took me to the home of a recently widowed woman who could not afford to run any appliance apart from her fridge, not even the hot water service. She relies on her adult children to pay her power bills.

This issue prompted me to ask the candidates: “What direct assistance will the candidates offer householders on low incomes to install solar hot water and upgrade old inefficient appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines?”

David Gazard responded that the Liberal party plan to plant trees and sequester carbon in the soil; Mike Kelly said Labor intends to focus on power reductions in the commercial sector; and Independent Ray Buckley highlighted the increasing hardship householders face due to rising power costs.

Greens candidate Catherine Moore plans to direct a percentage of the money generated by a carbon tax to low-income households. This assistance would be in the form of cash compensation and home retrofits to improve energy efficiency. Retrofits may include solar hot water, replacement of old refrigerators and double-glazing.

The installation of Solar Hot Water and the replacement of old fridges can reduce power consumption by 60%. My experience as an assessor confirms this fact.

While many political parties say they are concerned about the needs of the vulnerable members of our society, this is not necessarily reflected in their policies.

Leone Hollier & Ian Pegler (CEFE Bega representative)

Toes on the Edge

It’ s a tough life for a penguin. Four months of winter darkness, huddled together to survive the Antarctic cold. What a misery! When the spring comes you are so hungry you would do anything for a feed of sardines. So hungry that you would be prepared to leap into the Antarctic Ocean, even though the air temperature is well below zero, and the only thing that protects you from the cold is an inch of fat and a few feathers.
What a life!

There you are, hungry as hell, about as cold as a mammal can be, standing with your toes over the edge of an ice shelf and bracing yourself for an ice cream headache that would make your grandmother weep. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, there’s an additional problem.

No one is getting wet. Everyone is standing there knowing they are going to jump, but who goes first? There might be a Leopard Seal waiting.
1000 penguins standing with their toes over the edge. Everyone knows their survival depends on getting wet, but no one wants to go first.

The CSIRO predicts that a price on carbon will generate 2.7 million new jobs in Australia by 2025, mainly in regional areas. That means thousands of jobs for Eden Monaro. Australian politicians are standing with their toes on the edge, and no one wants to get wet.

What do the contenders for Eden Monaro think about a price on carbon? What do they think about a 50/50 by 2020 target for Eden Monaro? What is their position on the science of climate change? Come and find out next Monday 9/8/10 at 6:30 pm at the Bermagui Country Club.
Matthew Nott