The politics of climate in Tasmania

Concerned Hobart citizens have drafted an achievable set of strategies that would be an excellent basis for government policy for Tasmania. A campaign by Climate Action Hobart will seek to bring climate policy to the fore in the coming Tasmanian elections. [20 February 2010 | Peter Boyer]

Address to “Climate Solutions” rally, Parliament House, Hobart, 20 February 2010

What a lovely day it is! What a summer it’s been, here in this paradise we call Tasmania. These are truly good times. I don’t know about you, but with all the angst about the future of the planet that seems to be swirling around us these days, I need to remind myself, often, how lucky I am — how lucky we all are — to be living here in this place.

When it comes to saving the planet, we need to pace ourselves, to take a moment not to reflect but just to be, to exist, to feel what it is to be here in this corner of the universe, connected with all the other myriad life forms that together make up Nature or Gaia or whatever other name you want to give to Earth’s biosphere. And to enjoy the experience.

We need more than ever to be connected, at a time when we’re doing our best to separate our human species from the rest of Nature. We live in cocoons of our making: not just our cars and homes and offices, but also less tangible cocoons like mindsets and careers and culture and institutions — all the constructs that together make up human civilisation.

One of these constructs is politics, which are above all about people and their interactions. Politicians are human, like the rest of us. All too human. Their lives are about dealing with other people — their aspirations and anxieties, their compliments and complaints — and most of all, their voting intentions and their capacity to influence others. They can become so diverted with working lobbyists and electors and other politicians, the people who can make or break their parliamentary careers, that they have nothing left in the tank to get back in touch with the real, living, natural world. Like the rest of us, they’re finding it harder and harder to connect with reality. And that is the nub of this little problem of human-induced climate change.

Most of us here today have sought to engage with other people, including politicians, to express our disquiet about this disconnect that is putting our planet’s future at such risk. Some have worked in community or lobby groups seeking to change things on a larger scale. I’d like to tell you a little about a group I’ve been involved with, called Climate Action Hobart, which seeks to make politicians accountable for what they are doing — or not doing — to help us all to reduce our carbon footprint.

Climate Action Hobart started up nearly a year ago as a response to the 2009 national Climate Summit. A group of like-minded individuals have been meeting at Sustainable Living Tasmania to identify the issues that Tasmania needs to address to make its contribution to the global effort. A weekend workshop last October nutted out ten political strategies, which we believe are essential elements in a viable climate policy for Tasmania.

These are our Ten Climate Action Stations:

1: Set targets, with detailed plans, to reduce Tasmanian greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2020 over 1990 levels, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

2: Establish a transparent, verifiable accounting regime for forestry activities in Tasmania while protecting existing native forests and the carbon they store.

3: Prepare a strategy to reduce total energy use in Tasmania by 20 per cent by 2020.

4: Prepare a strategy to achieve 100 per cent renewable electricity in Tasmania by 2020.

5: Introduce binding State planning legislation to promote sustainable cities and regions in Tasmania.

6: Invest in public and low-carbon transport to make it the preferred mode of commuter transport.

7: Facilitate transitions to a low-carbon future for Tasmanian workers, businesses and communities.

8: Prepare a strategy to promote sustainable local food production, sustainable consumption and healthy lifestyles.

9: Prepare a strategy to eliminate waste and re-use recovered resources in Tasmania.

10: Promote climate justice and climate education in Tasmania.

When Climate Action Hobart put these thoughts together, its main concern was that the plan of action is achievable. We believe we have here an eminently doable set of strategies. It’s surely not unrealistic to expect our leaders to put their minds to examining the big picture, the longer view, and planning strategically across portfolios and sectional interests for an integrated, purposeful climate policy.

In this early stage of the State election campaign, the signs aren’t good. The Greens give every sign of taking climate policy seriously, but the other two parties occupying the House of Assembly have as yet said virtually nothing about the pre-eminent global challenge of our time. You’d think that they had made a pact between themselves to ignore it, as if it will then just fade away. Or perhaps they’ve decided that this is for someone else to worry about.

Whatever their thinking (if this is something they’ve every seriously thought about), it’s up to us to make sure they understand that they cannot expect to win at the polls four weeks from now without having a plausible, coherent, integrated climate policy and plan of action. Over those four weeks we will be working to ensure that on 20 March this supremely important issue has the electoral prominence it deserves.

As concerned citizens we see it as our duty to make Tasmanian voters fully aware of the consequences of their decisions in this election for a safe climate. Climate Action Hobart will be rating the climate policy commitments of each of the parties and using the media, public forums and letterboxing in key areas to highlight the extent to which strong and credible policy commitments have been made — and where the political parties, the candidates and especially the leaders fall short.

A major public forum, Vote For The Climate, will be held at the Stanley Burbury Lecture Theatre at the University of Tasmania’s Sandy Bay campus, on Thursday 11 March at 6.30pm. All major parties have been invited to come and defend their climate credentials.

We say this to David Bartlett and to Will Hodgman, as we do to Nick McKim: The problem of climate change won’t disappear by being ignored. We must all engage, governors and governed alike. We expect you to lead in this engagement. Over the next four weeks we will be watching, and on 20 March, based on what we see, we will all make our judgement.

This entry was posted in addresses-talks, agriculture and farming, biological resources, built environment, carbon, carbon emissions and targets, carbon sequestration, Climate Action Hobart, climate politics, community action, cycling, economic activity, education, energy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, forests and forestry, fossil fuels, geothermal, land use, leadership, local economy, local government, organisations and events, psychology, public opinion, road - cycle, road - public transport, social and personal issues, social mindsets, solar, Tasmanian politics, Transition, transport, trees, walking, waste, wind, workplace issues and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.