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Climate Injustice

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Stop Australian & US GHG pollution

Climate InjusticeWorld Environment Day, 5 June, has been marked around the World by millions of decent folk participating in events demanding action on the worsening climate emergency. Unaddressed, man-made climate change is predicted to kill about 10 billion mostly non-European people or about 100 million people per year this century in what is described as a Climate Genocide. Already about 18 million people die avoidably each year from deprivation in the Developing World (minus China) and this is increasingly being impacted by global warming.

Both Dr James Lovelock FRS (Gaia hypothesis) and Professor Kevin Anderson (Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, UK) have recently estimated that fewer than 1 billion people will survive this century due to unaddressed, man-made global warming – noting that the world population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, these estimates translate to a climate genocide involving deaths of 10 billion people this century, this including 6 billion under-5 year old infants, 3 billion Muslims in a terminal Muslim Holocaust, 2 billion Indians, 1.3 billion non-Arab Africans, 0.5 billion Bengalis, 0.3 billion Pakistanis and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis (for details Google “Climate Genocide” ).

 Several weeks ago the Australian Climate Commission, informed by an expert scientific advisory panel, published a very detailed report entitled “The Critical Decade” that set out the current state of climate science. The report made out the case for urgent action on climate change in the coming decade.

The Australian Climate Commission’s report “The Critical Decade” adopted a budget approach to cessation of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, stating that a 75% chance of the World avoiding a 2 degree Centigrade temperature rise (EU policy) means progressive cessation of GHG pollution in the period 2010-2050 with emission of no more than 1 trillion tones more of CO2 (carbon dioxide). Assuming an average world population in 2030 of about 8 billion people, this GHG pollution budget is 1,000 billion tones CO2/ 8 billion people = 125 tones CO2 per person (see Climate Commission, "The Critical Decade", 2011: http://climatecommission.gov.au/topics/the-critical-decade/ ).

Of crucial importance is the share of this 1 trillion carbon pollution budget for each country and, based on current greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution rates, how much time each country has before it must achieve zero emissions, this assuming of course that “all men are created equal” and that all countries consequently have equal per capita GHG pollution shares in the period 2010-2050.

Thus Australia has a population of 22 million people and accordingly its share of this terminal GHG pollution budget of 1 million tones of CO2 is 125 tones CO2 per person x 22 million persons = 2,750 million tones (Mt) CO2.

In 2009 Australia’s GHG pollution was 600 Mt CO2-e (CO2 equivalent i.e. total greenhouse gas pollution including that from GHGs such as methane and nitrous oxide and expressed as CO2-equivalent) and at that rate Australia will use up its share of the 2010-2050 global GHG pollution budget in 2,750 Mt /(600 Mt per year) = 4.6 years i.e. by mid-2015 .

However in 2009 Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution was 600 (Domestic) + 784 (coal exports) + 31 (LNG exports) = 1,415 Mt CO2-e, this leaving only 2,750/1,415 = 1.9 years for Australia to get to zero (0) GHG pollution i.e. by mid- 2012 and about 1.5 years before the Gillard Labor Government must face the electorate in a Federal election.

Unfortunately both the Australian Liberal–National Party Coalition Opposition and the Australian Labor Government (collectively known as the Lib-Labs) have a policy of “5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020” in relation to Domestic GHG pollution. Australia’s greenhouse gas production in CO2-e in 2000 was 535.3 million tones (Mt) according to “Greenhouse gas emissions in industrialized countries. Where does Australia stand?” by Hal Turton (Discussion Paper 66, The Australia Institute, June 2004). This means that the Australian Lib-Labs (who have a combined primary electoral support of about 80% in Australia’s compulsory, preferential voting system) have a target of 0.95 x 535.3 Mt = 509 Mt CO2-e of Domestic GHG pollution each year by 2020 (but remember that Australia should have achieved zero GHG pollution by the end of 2014 if “all men are created equal”).

However, when we consider Australia Exported GHG pollution the inequity becomes much, much worse. Thus the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) has projected that Australia’s black coal export will increase at an average rate of 2.4% per year over the next 20 years and that liquid natural gas (LNG) exports will increase at 9% per year over the same period. Further, it is estimated that Australian exports of dried brown coal will reach 20 Mt by 2020, this corresponding to about 59 Mt CO2-e after combustion.

Accordingly, by 2020 and based on Lib-Lab promises and ABARE projections, Australian Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution will be 509 Mt CO2-e (Domestic) + 1,018 Mt CO2-e (coal exports) + 80 Mt CO2-e (LNG exports) + 59 Mt CO2-e (brown coal exports) = 1,666 Mt CO2-e i.e. 118% of that in 2009.

Thus Australian policy flies in the face of science and “all men are created equal” which demand that Australia should cease pollution at current rates by late 2012. Instead Australia officially projects to increase its annual pollution by 2020 by about 18%.

Indeed this situation is even worse because the Gillard Labor Government has proposed a Carbon Tax- ETS-Ignore Agriculture (CTETSIA) plan to “tackle climate change” that is actually set to further increase GHG pollution. Thus Australia Government climate economist Professor Ross Garnaut and the Australian Government explicitly project a coal to gas transition for electricity generation (the 2011 Garnaut Report, Part 3, Chapter 11, Electricity transformation). However methane (85% of natural gas) leaks (circa 3.3%) and is 105 times worse than carbon dioxide (CO2) as a greenhouse gas (GHG) on a 20 year timeframe and including aerosol impacts, this meaning that a coal to gas transition will actually double electricity generation GHG pollution. The ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) approach is empirically unsuccessful, disastrously counterproductive and inherently fraudulent (the Australian Government has no right to sell licenses to pollute the one common atmosphere of all countries of the World). To ignore agriculture means ignoring over 50% of the GHG problem (according to a recent World Bank report, man-made GHG pollution is 50% bigger than hitherto thought and livestock contributes over 51% of the bigger figure).

From a conservative perspective, Australian greed politics and greed economics is based on mindless population growth (about 2.1% annually in 2009) and hence a more realistic assessment of Australia’s Domestic GHG pollution on this projection by 2020 is 754 Mt CO2-e and accordingly Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution in 2020 is likely to be 754 Mt (Domestic GHG) + 1,018 Mt (coal exports) + 80 Mt (LNG exports) + 59 (brown coal exports) = 1,911 Mt CO2-e i.e. 135% of that in 2009 (but remember that Australia should achieved zero GHG pollution by the end of 2014 if “all men are created equal”).

It is quite apparent that a greedy, racist (euphemistically “exceptionalist”) Australia has overwhelming, bipartisan, Lib-Lab agreement that it will increase its Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution by 35% by 2020 whereas the Australian Climate Commission is in effect saying that on current rates of GHG pollution Australia must actually decrease its annual rate of GHG pollution to zero (0) by mid-2012, assuming that “all men are created equal”.

While Australia has 1.9 years at current rates to achieve zero GHG pollution (i.e. by mid-2012, the end of the 2011/12 financial year) how does this compare with other countries? “Annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” in units of “tones CO2-equivalent per person per year” (2005-2008 data) is 0.9 (Bangladesh), 0.9 (Pakistan), 2.2 (India), less than 3 (many African and Island countries), 3.2 (the Developing World), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 16 (the Developed World), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge Exported CO2 pollution is included) (Google “Climate Genocide”).

The US (2008 population 302 million) generated 6,946 Tg CO2-e = 6,946 Mt CO2-e in 2008 for a per capita of 6,946 Mt/301 M = 23.1 Mt CO2-e per person per year. The US share of the a trillion tones CO2 budget is 301 million x 125 t CO2/person = 37, 625 Mt CO2 which gives the US 37,625/6.946 = 5.4 years to get to zero emissions i.e. by the end of 2015.

In contrast, China (2005 population 1,322 million; 2005 GHG per capita 5.5 tones CO2-e per person per year; annual GHG pollution 7,271 Mt CO2-e ) has 1,322 million people x 125 tones per person = 165,250 Mt of the CO2 budget and 165,250 Mt CO2-e / 7,271 Mt CO2-e per year = 22.7 years to get to zero.

Bangladesh (2005 population 153 million; 2005 GHG per capita 0.9 tones CO2-e per person per year; annual GHG pollution 137.7 Mt CO2-e) has 153 million people x 125 tones per person = 19, 125 Mt of the CO2 budget and 19,125 Mt CO2-e/ 137.7 Mt CO2-e per year = 138.9 years to get to zero (0) emissions.


The World is badly running out of time to deal with man- made climate change and a worsening Climate Genocide that will kill about 10 billion mostly non-Europeans this century due to unaddressed , man-made climate change. The recent estimate from the Australian Climate Commission’s “The Critical Decade” report is that the World can emit no more than 1 trillion tones of CO2 over the 2010-2050 period if it is to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2 degree Centigrade temperature rise. Based on current GHG pollution, Australia, a world leader in annual per capita GHG pollution and in coal and LNG exports, has 1.9 years to get to zero emissions, the US 5.4 years, China 22.7 years and Bangladesh 139 years.

Yet, political rhetoric aside, Australia is set on a course of increasing its present annual GHG pollution 35% by 2020. The US is similarly committed to greedy, amoral and racist Business As Usual (BAU). The World must deal firmly with a climate criminal, climate racist, exceptionalist Australia and US that under politically dominant, extreme right wing, neocon administrations are grossly violating climate justice and intergenerational justice by threatening the basic right to a decent life of future Australian and American generations and indeed the right to life of all peoples and all species.

Sanctions worked against a greedy, racist, US-, Australia- and Israel-backed Apartheid South Africa and should also work against a United States and Australia that are greedily, disproportionately and murderously violating the common atmosphere of all Humanity. Sensible political debate on the issue has stalled in both Australia and the US.

Accordingly, the World must take action to bring dog-in-the-manger Australia and the US to heel through Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), sporting exclusions, International Court of Justice litigations and prosecutions of climate criminal, climate genocidal Australia and the US before the International Criminal Court.

By Gideon Polya



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