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World Environment Day Blues

Last Updated on 12 March 2012

This week has not brought good news for the environment in Queensland, according to Queensland Conservation (QCC) and Logan and Albert Conservation agrees. Although climate change is acknowledged by the government as its biggest economic and environmental challenge, it was astonishing that the budget contained no new climate related funding.

The government has committed to a National Emissions Trading Scheme which will, when introduced, force major polluters to reduce their emissions. It will also impact upon small-medium business and Queensland residential consumers, through increased energy costs. This budget was the opportunity to correct that problem and support business and residential consumers to reduce their greenhouse emissions, save energy and save money before the ETS was introduced. With the exception of an innovative Home Energy Service, there is nothing new for either sector. Even the Home Energy Service-funded from an existing climate change fund- is paltry. It will service 260,000 homes over two years. Queensland has about 3 million homes.

The coal industry is the big winner: Premier Beattie may have extracted $600 million for clean coal from the industry, but Premier Bligh has now given that back through a $600 million royalty deduction.

The international coal industry profit from the climate mess, why should the Queensland public subsidise the clean up?

All this is in stark contrast and out of sync with global news.

The United Nations urged the world on Thursday 5 June to kick the habit of producing carbon dioxide, saying everyone must act to fight climate change.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said global warming was becoming the era's defining issue and would hurt rich and poor.

"Our world is in the grip of a dangerous carbon habit," Ban said in a statement on World Environment Day, which is being marked by events around the globe and hosted by the New Zealand city of Wellington.

"Addiction is a terrible thing. It consumes and controls us, makes us deny important truths and blinds us to the consequences of our actions," he said in the speech to reinforce this year's World Environment Day theme of "CO2 Kick the Habit."

World Environment Day, conceived in 1972, is the United Nations' principal day to mark global green issues and aims to give a human face to environmental problems and solutions.

New Zealand, which boasts snow-capped mountains, pristine fjords and isolated beaches used as the backdrop for the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy, has pledged to become carbon-neutral.

"We take pride in our clean, green identity as a nation and we are determined to take action to protect it. We appreciate that protecting the climate means behaviour change by each and every one of us," said New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.

New Zealand staged art and street festivals to spread the message on how people can reduce carbon usage. In Australia, Adelaide Zoo staged a wild breakfast for corporate leaders to focus on how carbon emissions threaten animal habitats.

Britain urged individuals to take action and the Environment Agency called on people to be prepared for more flooding, to use less water and protect wildlife.

Global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are rising quickly and scientists predict rising seas, melting glaciers and more intense storms, droughts and floods as the planet warms. A summit of G8 nations in Japan next month (July 2008) is due to formalise a goal agreed a year ago that global carbon emissions should be reduced by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

But some nations want a reduction of 80 percent of carbon emissions by 2050 to try to stabilize CO2 concentrations in the air to limit global warming.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said climate change was already a reality: "We have been experiencing the worst drought in living memory and our inland rivers are running dry. "We are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050. We will implement emissions trading as the primary mechanism for achieving this target," he said in a statement.

The U.N. Environment Program said greening the world's economy would cost as little as a few tenths of global GDP annually over 30 years and would be a driving force for innovation, new businesses and employment.




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