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Issue #1767      March 1, 2017


Climate change, health and renewables

In the lead up into the March 11 state election, the largest ever coalition on climate change in WA history had its launch at Edith Cowan University. This alliance was made up of the Conservation Council of Western Australia, the many affiliates which make up this organisation, and about 40 other faith groups, trade unions, doctors, health professional and renewable energy organisations and sought to bring the triple issue of health, climate change and renewable energy into election focus.

The two major political parties have shown little interest in the climate change/renewable energy issue as they do not see it as a major state-level electoral issue. The Liberals have shown little interest as evidenced by the policies over their past two terms in this state. State Labor wants to be seen as being responsible and waiting until the electorate are ready to embrace renewable energy. The Greens WA are the only political party to have announced a renewable energy target of 100% renewables by 2030. The forum at Edith Cowan Uni attracted over 200 participants demonstrating that health, climate change and renewable energy are issues that the electorate were passionate about and not just confined to members of the Greens WA.

The first speaker was Professor Fiona Stanley who said that climate change was a health issue as more extreme weather – especially heat – was affecting the health of people and especially those who are born into these changed climate conditions. Over the last 10-15 years a number of weather event records have been broken including 2015 and 2016 being consecutively the hottest years on record.

Professor Stanley said that a small change in the average temperature over a year equals a large change in extremes, and these extremes in temperature affect our bodies. If present patterns continue, by the year 2100 we will be looking at average temperatures of over 40C.

Changes in climate will also affect food availability which we are already seeing in the Indian sub-continent and in parts of Africa and Asia. Professor Stanley also said that young children and babies will also become more susceptible to diseases and environmental threats such as emerging microtoxins.

Michael Lord from Beyond Zero Emissions began by suggesting that Australia can go beyond zero emissions within ten years using existing technologies. Lord’s research found that all coal fired power stations need to shut down in developed countries by 2035. Coal powered fire stations and other non-renewable forms of energy production need to end to stop or limit the amount of carbon in the atmosphere going beyond 350-400 ppm as this is what would push average temperature growth beyond 2.0 - 2.5 degrees and limit the negative consequences.

Lord spoke of three phases of the movement towards renewable energy. The first phase was the establishment of renewable energy production and efficiency. Phase two would see the movement of energy intensive industries or production processes to those countries and the third phase will be that those countries which develop high quality will renewable energy producers will be able to export this energy.

This vision of renewable energy is available in a publication, “Renewable Energy Superpower”, and Lord added that Australia could potentially produce more renewable energy than it produces carbon-based energy and especially coal. In addition to wind and solar energy, renewable energy was also available in wave energy and geo thermal. Uranium is not considered renewable energy nor clean technology.

The Communist Party of Australia calls on all political parties to show a commitment to develop renewable energy targets and develop strategies to achieve those targets to preserve not only jobs but a sustainable future in which to keep those jobs.

Next article – Basics – Prices, wages, profits and inflation

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