Carbon ‘Bushfire Fight’ can benefit from ‘Cool Weather’

8 March 2009

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Australia — Shrinking economies, the downturn in industry, and other activities reduced by the global recession will slow the production of emissions from human sources around the world. This is the equivalent to a cool change coming in when fighting a raging fire – the logical thing to do at that point is to double your efforts in what might be the one opportunity to get on top of what has otherwise appeared an almost insurmountable problem, according to Western Australia’s largest peak body for enterprises across the sustainable energy sector.

“An easing of winds in a bushfire is no reason to delay bringing in the fire fighting equipment and instead to sit back and sink a cold-one. A lull at the fire-front is the best opportunity to muster all resources, and tackle the problem from a position of advantage – and the same logic applies in tackling greenhouse gas emissions and global warming,” says Dr Ray Wills, Chief Executive of WA SEA.

There is an irony in the phrase “toxic debt crisis” that will also lead to a short-term reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to changes in consumer spending on goods and industrial and other human activity will impact on national and global emissions.

“The irony continues, as the naysayers of past years were claiming action on dangerous climate change would bring down the economy, when unsustainable practices in the global banking industry have in reality created a far bigger financial impact than anything ever forecast for putting a cost on carbon” says Dr Wills.

“In understanding our actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is important we separate effects of economic downturn from any efforts to control emissions. With economic growth traditionally linked to energy consumption, under business as usual scenarios, any return to growth will once again start a growth in emissions.

And if we lead the global economic recovery simply by doing what we have done in the past, business as usual use of carbon-based fuels, it will be no different to Nero financially fiddling while Rome burns.

Measures to reduce emissions including renovating buildings, capital depreciation of old, less efficient equipment, and incentives to be both more energy efficient and to source emissions free energy from renewable sources, must be accelerated to help industries such as mining, construction and manufacturing return from recession.

And with the global squeeze on credit, politicians and policymakers need to work out how to ease the effects of a shortage of credit on capital-intensive renewable energy projects. But businesses too must play a part and commit to more sustainable practices as a part of their own recovery plans.

“Governments around the globe have committed to expend public funds to shore up poor decisions in investment markets – governments must ensure investments in public monies are tied to actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and businesses must consider the investment of their own funds for the same purpose,” says Dr Wills.

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