I joined 7500 to 8000 other people (police estimates) at the Sydney Say Yes rally today supporting a carbon tax. It was a great day. I really do not understand the reasoning behind people opposed to action on climate change.
I can understand people thinking a carbon tax might not be the best response to climate change (although I support pricing carbon), but we clearly need action as a matter of urgency.
There seems to be three major arguments against action.
1. Climate change isn’t real or it isn’t the result of human behaviour. There is a clear scientific consensus and clear evidence, that climate change is real and needs an urgent response. It is easy for deniers to raise questions; to suggest conspiracies; or to question motives as was done by those who wanted to undermine measures to combat smoking, acid rain, CFCs and the hole in the ozone layer. In doing so they misrepresent the scientific evidence and scientific consensus. (For a discussion of some of their tactics read The Merchants of Doubt by Namoi Oreskes and Erik Conway.)
2. Australia shouldn’t go it alone. Many countries are responding to climate change around the world – for example 33 countries (and some states in the USA) already have emissions trading schemes in operation. But regardless of how many other countries are taking action, I want to see Australia being a world leader. If we all wait for someone else to take the lead, nothing will be done.
3. Business can’t afford a carbon tax (and other actions), it will cost jobs or it will damage our economy. The major flaw with this argument is that it is such a short-term view. It leaves the challenge of addressing climate change to future generations when the economic costs will be even greater. Unfortunately our current economic system is not very good a incorporating environmental costs into its models. I don’t see how we can think it makes sense (economic or otherwise) to keep exploiting limited resources to support an unsustainable lifestyle. So yes, addressing climate change might lead to economic hardship. It might reduce our standard of living. It might mean was won’t be able to travel around the world as much as we used to. But I don’t understand how we can pretend that delaying the inevitable helps. We need to act, we need to act now and we need to be willing to pay for action. If we don’t, we leave a great burden on our children and their children.
So I am proud to add my voice to those who demand action on climate change. I say yes.
If you want more information there is a great resource on addressing some common misconceptions about climate change here.