It is predictable that an economist (Comment, The Australian 19/6) would look purely at economics to downplay the necessity of emissions reduction. To use simplified and somewhat distorted economics without considering the science of climate change and its broader repercussions on the biosphere does us no service.
This economic fixation overlooks the need for all global players to reduce emissions and increase renewables as ambitiously as possible and not be content with the status quo.
Thus comparison with the global uptake of renewables at 8% should not be used as a standard upon which our performance is judged. In fact, taking into account other poorly performing nations and the huge tasks facing developing countries, 8% is a reasonable global attainment. Emotive and inaccurate reference to Labor’s disregard of HELE and its “nonsensical” pursuit of 50% renewables does not help the argument one iota.
Sloan points to Germany and Britain having insufficient renewable energy at certain times and being assisted by neighbouring countries, overlooking the fact that Australia has vastly larger areas of more reliable sunshine. Furthermore, labelling the possible requirement for demand management as Third World stuff is again emotive and disingenuous. Victoria and South Australia have prepared for the extremely small chance of demand management by purchasing state-of-the-art diesel generators (not “motley” ones) which were not required to be used at all last summer. To say that industry will simply “shut up shop” is pure conjecture, as increasingly industry understands that carbon emissions must not increase indefinitely, and so will either accept a small inconvenience or will join the many industries which are taking steps to find their own additional renewable energy.
Emissions reduction relies on the tenet that all global players must take action. While none can see the immediate benefit of their individual or even collective actions, each must be responsible for their own and not look to what others might or might not be doing. It is this necessity which renders action on climate change as one of the most difficult challenges we may ever face.
Doctors for the Environment Australia