Environment issues have been an integral part of election campaigns and public policy debates for many years. As the science of climate change has developed and expanded, and the public has become aware of the need for swift government action to reduce the level of atmospheric greenhouse gases, Socialist Alliance has endeavoured to play a leading role in the ensuing political and publicity campaigns and debates that are occurring at every level.
The Socialist Alliance national environment committee resumed regular meetings via teleconferencing this year to organise policy work, campaign proposals and responses to Federal Government climate change policy proposals.
The draft Garnaut report and the Green Paper on climate change issued by the Department of Climate Change, both very lengthy and complex documents, required us to spend considerable time and effort in assessing them, developing policy responses and formulating appropriate submissions and media releases.
We lodged a concise formal response to the Green Paper on 10 September as we felt that it was essential for the Party to be recognised as playing an active and positive role in the national debate on how to deal with the challenge of climate change. Further, it was seen that a firm response had to be made to the totally inadequate and myopic proposals put forward by Garnaut and by the Federal Department. We made it clear that we believe that the proposed emissions trading scheme is very much an inferior approach to reducing greenhouse gas levels quickly.
Almost all of the capital city branches played an active part in organising the Climate Emergency Week events held around the country during the last week of September and early October. While the public attendance at these events was not massive, the role that they played in informing and defining the ongoing policy discussions and public opinion should not be underestimated. It is clear that the debate on climate change has evolved into a much broader policy debate about sustainable energy, building design, transportation, water, employment and urban planning.
As a result of the widening of debate on sustainability issues and climate change, we have been able to reach out to a much wider audience of individuals and groups who are engaged in what appear to be single issue campaigns, but which have much wider ramifications for the future of politics and economic development. There are hundreds of local groups and thousands of individuals fighting to protect local and regional environments and our ecosystems from damage and destruction right across the country, and we are being recognised as team players in these battles.
As members will be aware, we have now issued a concise updated version of our Climate Charter. Work is continuing on preparing an expanded edition of the Charter that will be issued before the end of this year. Debate on our environment policies and the draft Charter will be of the agenda for our upcoming National Conference.