Peak groups greenwash climate scandal

May 11, 2009 at 3:07 am Leave a comment

It’s hard to know who to be angrier with.

A government who makes an impossibly bad carbon trading scheme even worse.

Or the fake environment groups who endorse the scheme and thereby help the government spin it as something good.

The Rudd government has seduced three peak environmental groups, the Climate Institute, the Australian Conservation Foundation and World Wildlife Fund, to support changes to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The changes include an extra couple of billion dollars in free permits to polluters and a delay in the start of the scheme by a year.

It also, however, raises the hypothetical upper target for Australia’s emission cuts from 15% to 25%. This hypothetical target is enough to win the support of these fake environment groups.

Not only is 25% not nearly enough to achieve a safe climate – the government has no intention of coming through with it. The three groups are helping greenwash the government’s cave-in to the big polluters.

Even the Herald’s (fairly conservative) economics columnist Ross Gittens can see this. He said: “The environmentalists were won over by the promise to up the reduction in emissions to 25 per cent by 2020, but under conditions about an agreement in Copenhagen so stringent they’re unlikely to be met… environmentalist are suckers for empty symbolism.”

Well some environmentalists are… but not most. The endorsement of the government’s suicidal climate plan has been rejected by 66 climate action groups.

David Spratt has ripped the arguments of the guilty peak groups to shreds.

Meanwhile, a number of long-time ACF members have resigned in disgust – including prominent renewable energy expert Mark Diesendorf.

Below is the resignation from Pablo Brait, a grassroots climate activist in Melbourne. He sums up eloquently how short-sighted it is to try to negotiate with the laws of chemistry and physics.

The real climate movement is planning monster climate emergency rallies on June 13 across the country. Preventing the disastrous CPRS from becoming law is one of the goals of this round of demonstrations.

ACF — ‘You lack a credible position’

Melbourne-based climate activist Pablo Brait sent the letter below to the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) on May 5.


Dear ACF,

I have been a proud member for 10 years, and although you often took different positions from my own on certain environmental issues, I remained a member because I thought I would try to influence you from the inside, and help push you in the right direction (which I did at each opportunity, through letters, surveys, etc.).

I felt that for all your flaws and weaknesses, you still had your heart in the right place and you were a force for progress towards ecological sustainability.

However, that view has changed today. It was the last straw.

I note that as a member of the Southern Cross Climate Coalition, you support the changes made to the Rudd government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme announced today. You now support its passage through parliament.

The scheme is essentially exactly the same as it was, but
with more money for polluters, a delayed start and a token
(unscientific) upper reduction limit.

It will do nothing to reduce Australia’s emissions (especially with the unlimited imports of international credits) and will result in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from the Australian public to the big polluters.

Most importantly, it is not consistent with what the climate scientists are saying is necessary. Even if the government turned around and did everything you asked, we would still hit runaway climate change.

Over the last decade, since I became a member, the ACF has failed to get any real action from governments on climate change because of your habit of compromising before you even get to the table, and your emphasis on incremental rather than systemic change.

You lack a credible position because you are not basing it on science. It is obvious that you have been ignored and have not been able to shift the power balance in this society away from the greenhouse mafia.

Despite this, you continue along this path. It is a dead end. You cannot negotiate with the laws of physics and chemistry, and the federal government does not take you seriously.

As you can probably tell I am seething with anger at your betrayal. This isn’t a game, these are people’s lives we are talking about. Your compromises may get you taken out to lunch by the minister’s staff, but they have not gotten us a science-based climate change policy.

You have been sucked in and used by the polluter lobbies, you should be deeply ashamed of yourselves. You are nothing but a fig-leaf for business as usual.

As of today I am giving up my ACF membership. Please remove me from your database.

I will be focusing my energy and money on the grassroots climate action movement, and the environment groups that actually give us a chance of avoiding runaway climate change, such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.

Building a mass movement calling for science-based emissions reductions is what is now necessary. I had hoped the ACF would be a part of that. Unfortunately it is obvious you are not interested. I hope in time this will change.

With much sadness,



Entry filed under: Carbon trading scheme, greenwashing.

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