An apology from Australia to the rest of the world and to future generations

My country, Australia, is one of the worst greenhouse gas polluting countries in the world. This is bad, but much worse is the fact that the government (and many of the people) of Australia don't want to reduce those emissions; last year the Australian government was rated 60th of 61 countries on its climate change performance.

This page written 2016/12/12, modified 2020/01/26 – ©
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David K. Clarke)

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A coal-fired power station is on the left, an innovative solar power-tower is on the right.
The way of the past is on the left, the way of the future is on the right.
Sundrop Farms, Port Augusta, South Australia
While the fossil fuel industry has done a very good job of making Australians doubt the reality of anthropogenic climate change (that is, climate change caused by Man) there are many people in Australia who do want to see our nation reduce its shamefully high rate of emissions. Is it presumptuous of me if I apologise, on behalf of all those in Australia who want to see us shoulder our emission reduction responsibilities, for our failure to do so?

Many other countries are actively trying to reduce their emissions; the Australian federal government is paying lip-service only to action on climate change.

Australia's per-capita rate of greenhouse emissions is among the highest in the world. Australia ranks 53rd in the world in population, but sixth in the world in the CO2 produced by its electricity industry; it has 0.3% of the world's population, but produces 1.2% of the world's greenhouse gasses; it is well up among the worst greenhouse polluters on the planet. This means that we have a great ethical responsibility to adopt renewable energy and minimise our use of fossil fuels.

(In November 2019 tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes claimed that when Australia's fossil fuel exports were taken into account Australia was responsible for more than 5% of world greenhouse emissions. It is possible that this figure was too high, it depends on interpretation, but the correct figure was at least 3.6%.)

However, in 2016 our government was not only failing to favour renewables, it is actively favouring fossil fuels, in particular, the most polluting fossil fuel of all, coal.

Not only is this highly unethical, it is also stupid and short-sighted. It is obvious that the coal industry has a very bleak future and equally obvious that the future of energy, the future of the world, and Australia's energy future is with renewables. Australia is missing a great opportunity. We have enormous renewable energy resources and potential, if we were to develop that potential we could be exporting clean energy to the world, instead of the coal that is one of the main causes of climate change and that kills millions of people world wide each year.

In defence of my country I can say that there are areas where there is responsible action. Two examples: the Australian Capital Territory has a target of 100% renewable electricity by 2020 and my state, South Australia, has gone from practically no renewable electricity in 2003 to around 40% in 2016 (and more than 50% in 2019). My region, Mid-North South Australia, I am proud to be able to say, is leading the nation in the development of wind power.

The situation at the end of 2016
Clements Gap WF