Managing our climate future will require reducing reliance on fossil fuels by 80% by 2050. Managing the CO2 load will also require the use of bio-mass to take more of the gas out of the atmosphere.
The question is no longer if this will need to occur, but how it can.
And this, ultimately, is the great shame of the mismanagement of the politics of climate change in Australia. The book Power Failure makes a compelling case that the Rudd government wasted the opportunity to take action through a number of related elements. The first was to spend too long preparing a detailed policy in the background without continuing to bring Australians on he journey. The second was to fluff the originally drafted proposal so that what was first rejected could not be reintroduced in unmodified form. The third was to try to play politics on the issue and embarrass the Coalition rather than bring them on the journey.
The consequence was a policy that was rejected by the Senate on Greens votes, rather than one being passed using Coalition votes given that both major parties went to 2007 with an ETS as policy.
The initial failure was then compounded by Rudd's post Copenhagen funk, and then ultimately the deal brokered with the Greens being exactly the one that as easiest to attack.
But far bigger was the failure to paint the response to climate change in economic terms. Irrespective of whether Australia "took action" - played to by the whole we are such a small proportion crowd - the world IS going to take action by consuming less fossil fuels.
Neither Tony Abbott nor Christine Milne is right on coal. It is neither a friend of humanity nor an evil to be stopped immediately. It is somewhere in between, a historically important energy source with a significant role to play in our immediate future, but it is not a sustainable long term source.
As a major coal producer our interest is in utilising the resource for now, but preparing our economy for the point in the middle distance future where it needs to be replaced.
While the Gillard Government talked of a "clean energy future" it was never translated into the important part - making the investments today to replace
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