The Percentage Game for Climate Change, Energy & Emissions

The Percentage Game for Climate Change, Energy & Emissions

The latest Newspoll shows there is little change in the percentage of Australians who believed climate change was either partly or entirely a result of human activity, down from 96% in 2008 to 94% now, but they have been turning off Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme at a faster rate. While the nation could move to 100% renewable energy within a decade if it spent heavily on cutting-edge solar thermal and wind technology, says Beyond Zero Emissions in its Transition Decade plan.

Adam Morton in The Age (15 February 2010):

AUSTRALIA could move to 100 per cent renewable energy within a decade if it spent heavily on cutting-edge solar thermal and wind technology, according to an analysis released as part of a community bid to redirect the flailing climate policy debate.

The shift would require the annual investment of up to $40 billion – roughly 3.5 per cent of national GDP – with the largest chunk going towards solar thermal power plants that used molten-salt heat storage to allow power generation to continue without sunlight.

The plan by advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions was outlined at the launch of the Transition Decade, or T10, a grassroots campaign hoping to garner support for dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Pitched as a response to the failure to introduce national and state policies to substantially reduce emissions, T10 won support yesterday from the City of Melbourne, the Australian Greens and Victorian Governor David de Kretser.

Launching the campaign, Professor de Kretser said Australia had a responsibility to act.

”If every person in the world generated greenhouse gas emissions per person equivalent to those of each Australian today, the levels would quickly exceed those predicted to cause very dangerous global warming,” he told more than 1000 people at the Melbourne Town Hall. ”The consequences for planet Earth … would be disastrous.”

Under the Beyond Zero Emissions model, concentrated solar thermal plants at 12 sites across the country would meet 60 per cent of national energy demands. They would be supplemented by wind and photovoltaic solar panels, with existing hydroelectricity and biomass from burning crop remains as back-up.

Beyond Zero Emissions spokesman Mark Ogge said developments overseas had shown the claims that renewable energy could not provide baseload power had no basis.

Spain plans to install enough concentrated solar thermal in the next three years to power half of Victoria, with capacity six times greater than this in development.

Mr Ogge conceded the estimated investment was huge, but said it should not seen as just a cost.

”All these power plants pay themselves off over their lifetime,” he said. ”When you finish we’ve got a brand new renewable energy system that is going to last 50 years at least and have no fuel costs.”

Greens climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne said the government and opposition were too invested in ”business-as-usual” politics to support the change needed to combat climate change.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the government was continuing to negotiate with all parties in a bid to have the scheme passed. He again alluded to a possible double dissolution if the bill was defeated.

”Whenever the next election is held, and whatever form that election takes, both emissions trading and action on climate change will be front and centre,” Mr Rudd told Network Ten’s Meet the Press.


Dennis Shanahan, Political editor  for  The Australian (16 February 2010):

VOTERS have been turning off Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme at a faster rate than they have stopped believing in the existence of climate change.

Although Australians overwhelmingly believe climate change exists and it is at least partly a result of human activity, there has been a sharp rise in the percentage of people who do not believe in climate change.

The shift follows the collapse of the UN’s climate change conference in Copenhagen in December and widespread publicity of false claims in the UN’s 2007 climate change report.

In the week when the Rudd government made its latest attempt to pass an ETS through parliament, public opposition to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme jumped.

The Prime Minister remains committed to the ETS as a central part of the government’s election strategy and continues to attack Coalition opposition to the CPRS.

According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian last weekend, support for the CPRS fell from 67 per cent two months before the Copenhagen summit and before Tony Abbott became Opposition Leader, to 57 per cent.

In October 2008, support for the CPRS was at 72 per cent.

Since Copenhagen and the release of climate change scientists’ emails casting doubt on their research and false claims being exposed in the UN’s 2007 climate report, opposition to an ETS jumped from 22 to 34 per cent.

Since mid-December, Mr Abbott has been campaigning against the ETS as a “great big new tax on everything”, while Mr Rudd has accused the Opposition Leader of believing climate change science is “absolute crap”.

Under Mr Abbott’s predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, the Coalition supported the government’s ETS.

There has also been a fall in the percentage of people who believe in climate change. In July 2008, 84 per cent of those surveyed believed climate change was happening and only 12 per cent did not believe it existed at all. Last weekend, the number who believed climate change existed had dropped to 73 per cent, down 11 points, and those who did not believe in it rose 10 points to 22 per cent.

Overall there was little change in the percentage of people who believed climate change was either partly or entirely a result of human activity, down from 96 per cent in 2008 to 94 per cent.

However, the percentage of voters who thought humans entirely responsible for climate change was down eight points to 24 per cent, while there was a rise among those who thought humans partly responsible, from 64 to 70 per cent.

Young people were the most strongly convinced of humanity’s part in climate change and those most supportive of an ETS to cut greenhouse gas emissions by establishing a carbon market.

Those least convinced of humanity’s role in climate change were aged over 50.


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