Australia Leads In Climate Fight, Passes Carbon Tax

Australia’s Senate passed a comprehensive carbon pricing scheme yesterday, to the applause of members of the public who were present.¬†Australia is one of the world’s worst greenhouse gas emitters per capita because of its heavy reliance on abundant reserves of coal to generate electricity. The country is also on the front lines of climate change. Who can forget the horribly destructive Queensland floods in January of this year, or the wildfires in 2009 that killed hundreds and destroyed thousands of homes?

Like Citizens Climate Lobby, I believe that the easiest way to put a price on carbon pollution is a carbon fee and dividend bill, but I am definitely not going to slam this historic legislation, which is a huge step in the right direction. To read more about how carbon fee and dividend works, go to Building a Green Economy: The Economics of Carbon Pricing and The Transition To Clean, Renewable Fuels.

From The Guardian:

Australia’s parliament has passed landmark laws to impose a price on carbon emissions in one of the biggest economic reforms in a decade, giving fresh impetus to December’s global climate talks in South Africa.

The scheme’s impact will be felt right across the economy, from miners to LNG producers, airlines and steel-makers and is aimed at making firms more energy-efficient and push power generation towards gas and renewables.

Australia accounts for just 1.5% of global emissions, but is the developed world’s highest emitter per capita due to a reliance on coal to generate electricity.

Australia’s finance minister, Penny Wong, told the upper house Senate as she wrapped up the marathon debate:

Today marks the beginning of Australia’s clean energy future. This is an historic moment, this is an historic reform, a reform that is long overdue.”

Deutsche Bank carbon analyst Tim Jordan stated:

This is a very positive step for the global effort on climate change. It shows that the world’s most emissions-intensive advanced economy is prepared to use a market mechanism to cut carbon emissions in a low-cost way.”

More links:

Australian Senate Passes Carbon Tax

Building A Green Economy: The Economics of Carbon Pricing and The Transition To Clean, Renewable Fuels.

Australia Passes Carbon Tax On Big Polluters

In The Face Of Winter, A Movement Blossoms

Despite the police harassment, the arrests, the confiscation of tents and supplies, as well as the imminent arrival of winter, the Occupy movement continues to grow. Although the mainstream media continually under-reports what is happening, thanks to social media the truth is getting out. It can’t come soon enough – global greenhouse gases rose 6% last year.

As we go into the weekend, I will leave you with these words from Occupy New York City‘s declaration:

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known. Click here to read the full statement.

Now, sit back and take this image in; a crowd of tens of thousands march down the highway to Port of Oakland in support of Occupy Oakland earlier this week:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=r4jYdCaHrjQ#!]

(source/Credit: http://www.ktvu.com/videos/news/raw-video-newschopper-2-footage-of-huge-crowd…)

More links:

Occupy New York City: Declaration

NYC Reflections Part I: Occupy Wall Street

Greenhouse Gas Emissions In 2010: Bigger Than Ever

30 Corporations Paid No Incomes Taxes in The Last Three Years, While Making $160 Billion

We Are The 99%

Searching For Good News This Friday

It seems like a good idea to end the week on a positive note, so lately I have been trying to do just that on my Friday blogs. However, this week has been a particularly discouraging one for those of us concerned about having a safe planet for our children and grandchildren. First, there was the death of climate legislation in the U.S., then there’s the just-published NOAA State of the Climate Report based on work by 300 scientists in 48 countries shows that, globally, the last 10 years have been the hottest on record. And let’s not forget about the study published in Nature shows that phytoplankton, a microscopic food crucial to marine life, is dying out due to the climate change-related rise in ocean temperatures. And I haven’t mentioned that this week marked the 100th day since the BP oil disaster began, or that Australia’s new Prime Minister Julia Gillard has taken the approach of another year of inaction while a “citizen’s consensus” group discusses climate change and carbon taxing. And please, let’s not even talk about “King Stephen“, our Canadian PM, whose pathetic stance on this urgent issue is “we won’t do anything until the Americans do”.

But today’s Friday, and some good news is in order – let’s see:

Via 350.org: President Patil of India has announced that the President’s estate, Rasthrapati Bhavan, is now a certified green building, including the installation of solar power! Click here for the full announcement.

Via the wall of the Facebook group 1,000,000 Strong Against Offshore Drilling, this personal story:

I met a fellow the other day. He was planting fruit trees on our orchard. He had quit his job in the Alberta tar sands after the BP spill. He described to me the dangerous conditions in which they work in, the horrible daily mess that he had to help clean up, the countless gallons of fresh water wasted and the guilt he… felt every day. He said that everyone in the oil industry knows that they’re running out and that they will continue to drill in more and more places where extraction is tricky regardless of the environmental costs. He was disgusted with the oil industry. He’s a good dad and was making good money there, but decided to quit, pack up, and start a new job/new life working with troubled youth. Hearing his story gave me hope that even those who work for Oil know the horrible cost it is having on our lives.

Via Climate Progress: EPA Strongly Reaffirms Scientific Basis for Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Endanger Public Health

And on a personal note, part of our roof-mounted 7 Kilowatt solar panel system just arrived.¬† It looks like it’s the aluminium rail mounting system; we’re still waiting for the actual panels. It means that we’re another step closer to being part of the Ontario microFIT program. More details – and pictures – to follow!

Via Earthpolicy.org: Did you know? A bicycle is a marvel of engineering efficiency, one where an investment in 22 pounds of metal and rubber boosts the efficiency of an individual mobility by a factor of three. Click here for information on the League of American Bicyclists.

And on that theme, this weekend you can be part of “National Don’t Use Your Car Day(s)”. If you are on Facebook and want to sign on, click here.

This past week, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of recognizing water and sanitation as human rights. Now that is good news – even though Canada abstained from the vote. For on this, check out the Council of Canadians website – www.canadians.org.

More links:

If you are in the U.S. and unhappy with the failure of the climate bill, go to 350.org’s “They Blew It. Let Them Know It” page where you can sign up to “shadow” your senator while he or she is on recess and send them the message that it’s outrageous that they threw up their hands over this crucial piece of legislation.