Greens leader stares down emissions trading bill, looks to the future

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown paid a visit to the Footscray Park Campus on Thursday to talk to students and staff about the politics of climate change.

Addressing Professor John Tully’s students of Australian politics and other guests, Senator Brown was highly critical of the Federal Government’s emissions trading legislation, which the Greens have refused to support.

In his 45 minute talk Senator Brown made the following points about the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme:

  • The bill would guarantee a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of just 4 per cent by 2020. In the UK the target is 34 per cent and Germany’s goal is 30 per cent, rising to 40 per cent.
  • The bill provides subsidies of up to $16.5 billion over four years for the “biggest polluting industries” such as coal.
  • A ban on logging in native forests would cut Australia’s greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent.

Answering questions from the audience, Senator Brown said the Greens believed undergraduate degrees should be free from charges and that the link between tertiary education and the market was “a huge mistake”. “Information is the currency of democracy,” he said.

In a candid response to a question about how he remained so positive in the face of such a gloomy outlook, Senator Brown said that he had been through a period of depression in the 1980s because of the threat of nuclear war.

“It’s a normal response for folk that at some time of their lives to become depressed about the state of the world.”

However, he believed it was the responsibility of all people to think about the legacy they leave behind: “Unless we can look future generations in the imaginary eye and say, ‘we thought of you’, we are a failure.”

Senator Brown talking to VU staff and students

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