The Australian Climate Commission says this is the “critical decade” to cut emissions. The Socialist Alliance says Australia’s climate response must be based on the climate science, which says we cannot delay action. Business-as-usual, capitalist politics cannot solve this emergency. We need to look at radical measures adequate to the challenge.

There is already too much carbon in the atmosphere to guarantee a safe future. The warming already in the system risks the crossing of various natural “tipping points” that would cause runaway climate change.

If these points are crossed, it would bring average temperatures to levels that have not existed for millions of years. Most existing species would die out. Large-scale farming would be difficult or impossible.

As we confront global warming, the existence of our civilisation, and perhaps of the human species itself, is at stake.

Most of Australia’s fossil fuel reserves — coal, oil and gas — must stay in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The technology for a zero-emissions economy already exists. But the fundamental block to action is that the major political parties and big business are stopping serious climate action.

The Socialist Alliance says we should set a target to power Australia with 100% renewable energy in 10 years. Governments should build big solar thermal plants and wind farms now. The national energy grid must also be upgraded to make it compatible with large scale renewable energy.

All government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry — which add up to more than $10 billion each year — should end.

Australia’s energy sector should be publicly owned and under democratic community and workers’ control.

No new coal mines or coal-fired power stations should be approved. Government should develop a plan to phase out existing coal and gas exports, and close down fossil fuel power stations.

Such a massive program of changing Australia’s energy infrastructure will create many thousands of green jobs and boost Australia’s manufacturing industry.

Communities affected by the transition must be guaranteed replacement jobs and retraining on full pay.

Public transport should be massively expanded and made free, frequent and accessible. The Socialist Alliance also stands for greater public subsidies for carbon-neutral organic farming and an end to the logging of native forests, which are crucial carbon sinks.

If the mining and banking sectors were nationalised, the hundreds of billions of dollars of profit now siphoned away by the billionaires can be used to pay for the emergency measures the climate crisis demands.

The Socialist Alliance does not support the Labor/Greens carbon price or the emissions trading scheme. These crisis-prone market schemes subsidise the biggest polluters, while delaying the big structural changes we need to make now. The Socialist Alliance calls on the Greens to end its support for emissions trading and instead
help to build the campaigns for an emergency transition to a zero-carbon Australia.