Saturday, December 15, 2007

Political Climate Change At Bali

The US has agreed to a compromise plan to start talks on a new climate change protocol, to take effect after obligations under the existing Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012.

Every other represented country, or group such as the European Union (EU) agreed to the compromise plan. The 190 members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to the plan after almost 2 weeks of negotiations, and after the return of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He returned to Bali to urge, with diplomatically plain language, recalcitrant countries to agree to the 'Bali Roadmap' for the good of humanity. I'm sure the US will soon find economic, trade, and foreign policy reasons to justify their change of heart.

There was certainly a sense of desperation as Kevin Rudd told his team, and Penny Wong, in particular, to do "whatever it takes" negotiate a settlement. Climate change is a priority.

So, what next for Australia? I believe we need to look at the following, from a national perspective:

  • reduce "base load" electricity demand, and hence our reliance on coal. The term "clean coal" is deceptive - coal is dirty, and it does pollute.
  • reduce unnecessary lighting in office buildings at night
  • reduce the use of "off-peak" (night-time) electric hot water systems, and install more solar hot water systems, with gas backup.
  • increase the use of wind farms
  • increase the use of solar electricity generation on houses, and large business buildings, especially where buildings have air conditioning installed
  • mandate national building design codes that increase the use of passive heating and cooling (verandahs, awnings & blinds, building aspect, insulation and construction materials)

All of this will involve significant changes to aspects of our economy, and our individual and collective thinking - we will need to increase investments in some areas of our economy and reduce it in other areas.

It won't be easy, and we do need our political leaders to take short-term hard decisions for the longer term benefit, while still being mindful of the social effects That is, after all, what we pay them to do.

In business speak, we need to undertake a process called Business Process Engineering - we need to fundamentally change what and how we do things.