A Review of Australia’s Policy on Climate Change:
Have we warmed up to the problem?
ATS2548 Assignment 3
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Word Count: 1667
Table of Contents
Over the past few decades, the climate change debate has been sparked throughout the world and certainly in Australia, and has been shown to be a very important environmental issue. The phenomenon of ‘climate change’ is relatively new throughout the global community. It is based on the premise that constantly increasing resource use and consumption due to emerging countries and growing populations has caused an imbalance in the natural composition of the atmosphere, leading to higher average air and water temperatures, hence the term global 'warming'. Various factors such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have been major causes of climate change in Australia (WWF, 2013), as they have caused greenhouse gas levels such as carbon dioxide to dramatically increase in the atmosphere. This change is detrimental to the world as it has been seen to cause irreversible damage to natural environments and habitats (Dale, 2001 & Hughes et al., 2003), so it is therefore imperative that governments intervene in this process to alleviate some of these negative impacts before it is too late to reverse them (Hughes, 2003). Climate Change – Causes and Management Approaches
In order to properly develop ideas and policies that will be effective in tackling climate change, one must examine the underlying principles and sustainability dimensions that have caused the phenomena to become a global problem in the first place. Some of the basic causes of climate change have been attributed to overconsumption of natural resources, economics, and the inability of humans to control the technologies they have created (Rayner and Malone, 1998), key of which being population growth. With a growing population brings growing demand; demand for more resources, infrastructure, food, water, transport, electricity, and so on. This steers countries towards the most economically viable methods of expansion, such as energy production from coal in Australia. As Australia is the world's fourth largest producer of coal as of 2010 ( U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2011), it is economically viable to produce most of its electricity from coal-fired power plants, being up to 85% of the total electricity produced (Gladstone Center for Clean Coal, 2007).
However, there is a fundamental flaw with this process of decision making. A country or government must deter from picking the 'easy way out' - that is, they must deter from simply choosing the most financially appealing method that is best in the short or medium term. As climate change is an issue that is for the long term and will only become more apparent in the future, decisions based in areas such as energy production and non-renewable resource use must be done so with sustainability in mind - that is, with regard to benefiting future generations. In order to do this, governments must adopt either mitigation strategies (to lessen current emissions), or anticipatory and adaptation strategies (change current methods to reduce future emissions) (Rayner and Malone, 1998).
Many countries throughout the world have attempted different strategies in order to reduce their carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural environments from the effects of climate change with varying levels of success. An example is Finland's establishment of a tax on carbon in 1990. It was shown that after the implementation of a carbon tax, the growth of carbon dioxide emissions slowed from a growth of 1.5% between 1981 and 1990 to a growth of -0.01% between 1990 and 2008 (Finland Ministry of the Environment, 2012), yielding a positive result as the CO2 emissions were seen to be reducing. Another example is that of 'agri-environment'...
References: Dale, V. H. (2001). Climate Change and Forest Disturbances. BioScience 51(9): 723
Environmentally related taxation in Finland (2012)
Rayner, S., & Malone, E. L. (1998). Human choice and climate change: an international assessment. Battelle Press: Columbus, OH.
Zahedi, A. (2010). A review on feed-in tariff in Australia, what it is now and what it should be, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 14(9):3252-3255
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