Climate News: Carbon Pricing in Australia And Oil Orgies In Britain

Yesterday Australia took a huge step toward a clean energy economy and tackling climate change. The Australian House of Representatives passed the Government’s package of 19 bills setting up a carbon pricing scheme from July 1, 2012 by a vote of 74 to 72. Now that’s cause for celebration!

photo: 350.org

Meanwhile, some governments, including our own, haven’t connected the dots between acting on climate change and economic prosperity. Across the pond, UK Climate activists crashed a love-in between the UK & Canadian governments and the fossil fuel industry:

Protesters interrupted the Canada-Europe Energy Round table in London yesterday, to expose the UK government’s opposition to the European legislation that would label tar sands oil as highly polluting. The campaigners stripped down to Union Jack boxers and maple leaf underwear and covered each other with oil while kissing and groping in a provocative ‘oil orgy’.

We interrupted the Energy Round table today because the UK and Canadian governments’ flirtations are developing into friends with benefits. This seedy relationship puts profits for the oil industry and banks ahead of much needed legislation which will curb emissions from transport fuel in Europe,” said UK Tar Sands Network campaigner Emily Coats.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/30373841]

Since PM Cameron’s visit to Canada last month, the UK government has been echoing the position of the Canadian government that the EU is ‘unfairly discriminating’ against the Canadian tar sands. Contrary to Canada’s claims that the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) will discriminate against the tar sands, the current FQD proposal also includes values for other unconventional oil feed stocks, such as shale oil .

 “The UK government is supporting sleazy Canadian lobbying efforts and today’s  Energy summit shows just how intimate they have become to promote the tar  sands industry,” said climate campaigner Peter Templeton.

Despite extensive lobbying by the Canadian government over the last year, last  Tuesday the European Commission announced its recommendation that tar  sands fuel should be assigned an accurate value in order to account for the  higher emissions caused by tar sands extraction.

A Canadian government body proved that tar sands extraction is very filthy, yet  the Harper government is increasing extraction of bitumen without full scientific  knowledge of the impacts on the local environment and the global climate,” said  Coats.

In the upcoming weeks the UK will continue to receive Canadian officials as Canada attempts to secure the UK as an ally to stall the FQD directive, which has already received extensive support from the EU commission. The controversial UK government support for the Canadian tar sands industry has received disapproval and outrage from UK climate activists, which shall escalate as the relationship deepens.

For more, go to Act For Climate Justice

Wrecking This Place Down: How Do We Protect Our Children In An Age of Environmental Crisis?

Sandra Steingraber is a mother, a biologist, a cancer-survivor, and the author of several books on the dangers we are facing from the environmental toxins that surround us. Her most recent book, “Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in An Age Of Environmental Crisis” is a call to action – Steingraber says it’s time for parents to protect our children from harm and to plan for their future.

When the air, food and water surrounding my kids is filled with toxic chemicals and I can’t prevent them from entering the bodies of my kids, I’m really not their protector anymore. And when climate change threatens to destabilize the planetary ecology on which my children’s future depends, I can’t plan for their future.”

Steingraber puts out a call for parents to become fossil fuel abolitionists, in the same way that abolitionists called for the end to slavery during 19th Century America. Although fossil fuels drive our economy in much the same way that slavery drove the economy at that time, it’s time for parents to actively fight for the greater good of society. Our children are part of the ecosystem of the planet, and if we continue down the path of fossil fuel addiction, their well-being will be sacrificed on the altar of the economy.  No responsible parent would willingly choose to put the profits of the oil, coal, and gas companies ahead of their children’s future.

Psychologists have identified “Well-Informed Futility Syndrome”, when people are presented with the facts of a large, multi-faceted problem like climate change and rather than being moved to action they feel intolerable guilt and fear that cause either a paralysis of action or a denial of the problem. The way out of Well-Informed Futility Syndrome, it turns out, is not to ask people to make small inconsequential changes, but to present a solution that is as big as the problem.  In terms of the climate crisis, this requires admission of the fact that “business as usual” can’t continue, and we need a whole new redesign of the way we as a society do things. Steingraber says it’s time to call on parents to be heroes, starting with forceful engagement in the climate debate. She deliberately doesn’t provide a blueprint for how to respond because everyone’s skill set and temperament are different. Instead, she poses the question to each parent out there: “What response to this crisis do your temperament and skill set provide?” It is time to for each of us to speak out of identities that we already have.

My experience, two years after being moved to action on this issue precisely for the reasons that Steingraber identifies – to protect my children from harm and plan for their future – is that action is so much more fulfilling and life-giving than sitting on the sidelines with overwhelming fear and guilt. And, as Steingraber points out, it is parents responding to a threat that gives children hope, even if the threat is large.

One of the ways I’ve responded to the climate crisis is by becoming involved in Citizens Climate Lobby, whose purpose is to create the political will for a stable climate and to empower individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power. To learn more about CCL, feel free to contact me at 350orbust@gmail.com, or check out these links:

Citizens Climate Lobby

Citizens Climate Lobby (Canada)

To listen to a half hour interview with Ms. Steingraber on CBC Radio’s The Current last Friday, click here.

Here is a trailer for a documentary based on a previous book of Steingraber’s, Living Downstream:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2UsmBqYpwo]

More links:

Living Downstream

Sandra Steingraber.com