Why is it that coal seam gas is being marketed as an alternative to coal in the transition to clean renewable energy? Haven’t the results of the industry in US been very detrimental to water, soil and quality of life for those in its path? These are a couple of questions that didn’t get aired at the visiting Climate Commission’s climate change chat but were aired quite properly in the conversations I had with people following it.
One friend was exasperated by the continued dominance of neoliberal economics in the conversation around adaptation to climate change. Why approach the problem of climate change with market based mechanisms? When quite clearly from the latest market ‘hiccups’ the system is profoundly flawed.
The ‘market’ is not omni-prescient as the recent government interventions into its realm demonstrate. Not to say that market based mechanisms don’t have a role to play as for business and industry they evidently speak the same language and quite fluently. But in terms of social justice that language loses in translation whatever lucidity it had for industry. As it filters through the system the market mechanism simply reinforces the existent power plays and hedged up system.
Perhaps because this can be a hot place anyway, there was little heat in the Alice Springs conversation with the Climate Commission; and perhaps because it's an expensive place to live anyway, there was no whinging about the "great big tax". The science was clearly accepted; people's interest was in 'where to from here'. People wanted to know about the impact of the Clean Energy Act on the poorest people in our region; about the advantages for sustainability of high density living; about population control; about carbon farming, carbon storage, and large-scale solar power stations. They had some of the nation's best climate change brains answering, although when it got down to local specifics, such as the development of the Kilgariff subdivision and fire regimes in the desert, the information got a little thin. Pictured: Professors Tim Flannery and Lesley Hughes at the 'Climate Conversation' in Alice Springs on Wednesday. KIERAN FINNANE reports.