The Australian Government under Liberal Prime Minister John Howard has consistently ignored climate change as a real threat. John Howard has in the past repeatedly told the public that he was a climate change "sceptic."
Unfortunately for the government, the public has now woken up to climate change. The changing climate is highly visible in Australia which has been experiencing an on-going drought for a number of years now. Now the Howard Government is trying to re-brand it's climate change policies. Instead of investing in solutions, the Howard Government has been using taxpayers' money to dress up its own inaction as "climate clever." The original government ad is a "clever" mix of good advice (line dry your clothes, change to energy efficient light bulbs) and the promotion of (currently non-existent) "clean coal" technology and nuclear power.
The Australian grassroots organisation "Get-Up" produced a wonderful spoof of Howard's climate change ads which was shown during the Australian Football League Grand Final. Here is an opportunity for you to see it.
There is absolutely no doubt that we all have to do our bit to tackle climate change. Consumers have to change their habits, and that is certainly something I am trying to do myself and promote on this blog.
However, if governments continue to promote the burning of fossil fuels, support the coal industry, look for solutions that may or may not deliver positive greenhouse outcomes far in the future (such as Howard's love-affair with nuclear power) and do not act decisively to include carbon cost into energy pricing now, then all the small steps we as individuals may take will get completely swamped by the big decisions our governments make.
Throughout its eleven years in government, the Howard Government has
- refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, thus helping the other big climate denier, the USA under George Bush, to erode international efforts in tackling the problems early on;
- undermined the development of renewable energy in Australia by not setting proper targets for renewable energy; and
- promoted non-binding emission reduction targets which result in no reduction at all.
The single biggest contribution to climate change all of us can make is to VOTE for a party that takes climate change seriously and pressure governments in power to work much, much harder on finding solutions. If the majority of the world's scientists are right - and I have no reason to doubt that they are not - we are running out of time.