The Socialist Alliance has adopted radical greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets—95% of stationary power emissions and 60% of overall emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2020, and 90% of overall emissions by 2030.These targets are minimal and provisional.That's because the Alliance membership is still discussing the issue as we canvas for more policy input. and a broader debate.
As part of this process the SA has been trying to bring members up to speed on the core issues at stake over climate change. This is not an easy subject to get a handle on as there is a lot of hard core science involved. To that end we have been circulating a extensive dossier on Climate Change (available here(Word) or here (pdf)from the SA web site)
In doing so and in trying to confront the harsh and urgent challenge that confronts humanity we are being forced to deal with the question of what needs to be done if we adopt these essential targets. It's all very well to talk about targets -- but how do we reach them?
I did say that these targets were provisional -- and as I'm one of those who is urging a zero emissions policy -- what will it mean if that perspective is endorsed by the Alliance? We already have the most radical targets adopted by a registered political party in Australia, and even if we don't make them tougher, we still have to go before the electorate and the everyday population we have contact with and explain to them how we are going to get to that low level of emissions.
Suddenly the whole socialist gambit is no longer a theoretical or hypothetical abstraction because we have such a narrow window to make a difference -- a very narrow window of about 13 years.
This is politics in real time.
It's somewhat of a responsibility. As the Alliance's national coordinator, Dick Nichols, puts it:
The Alliance will be campaigning vigorously for a radical switch to renewables, a massive expansion of public transport and a radical reduction in energy waste, especially in industry.We shall also champion the polluter pays principle, so that the cost of fighting climate change doesn't fall on the shoulders of working people but on the corporate polluters and energy guzzlers.If you think talk is cheap -- I doubt you could get a cheaper version of it than that being offered by the party majors in this country on the topic of climate change and carbon emissions.
But if you want to value what you say, as the Alliance certainly does, you have to do your homework and deliver the goods.
So this discussion we are having is not only an exercise in what is environmentally possible but one about how a broad group of people coalescing around a socialist banner can urgently come to a collective resolution of what are our agreed upon core tasks and perspectives.
And ain't that the way our kind of politics should play out? So this is as much as anything an exercise and a test in the sort of regroupment politics we've been engaged in.