Thursday, 11 September 2008

Climate change survey rings alarm for policy makers

Newcastle Greens
11 September 2008

Yesterday’s Hunter survey showing a drop in the number of residents who think that they will be affected by climate change should set alarm bells ringing among the nation’s policy makers, according to The Greens Newcastle Lord Mayoral candidate, Michael Osborne.

The Hunter Valley Research Foundation ’s survey released yesterday indicated a 14% fall (between 2006 and 2007) in respondents who believed that climate change would affect them in the next 20 years.

Cr Osborne said he would expect that a similar survey of the Lower Hunter community (covering areas such as Newcastle and Lake Macquarie) would demonstrate the same pattern, and agreed with the Foundation’s conclusion that people may be becoming disengaged with the issue of climate change.

“No doubt this shift will please the vested interests behind the huge propaganda campaigns waged by the mining lobby and their political supporters in the NSW and federal governments, but it should set alarm bells ringing among those who genuinely want a sustainable society,” Cr Osborne said.

“It’s not as though good information isn’t out there - but people may be switching off. When the gap between reality and perception increases like this, it’s often a sign that people are feeling powerless.

“When people see governments sending such mixed messages about climate change, and doing so little of substance to tackle the challenge, it’s natural for them to disengage.

“For example, when they see the NSW government saying it’s okay to expand coal mining and exporting, or the Federal government about to adopt Prof Garnaut’s inadequate carbon-reduction targets and effectively give up on the fight to save such iconic environmental assets such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu, of course they feel confused and powerless.

“But it’s important that people don’t feel there is no hope, because it’s only through the hope and action of ordinary people acting in local communities that our governments will change.

“When central governments aren’t doing their job to protect the public interest, local government can often play a key role, in the decisions they make, in how they allocate community resources, and in advocating to other spheres of government on behalf of local communities.

“This is why it’s important that we have councils and councillors who are prepared to play this role - to think globally and act locally. It’s important that we don’t retreat into the kind of insular, small-minded, disempowering role that some candidates are advocating.

“Greens policies are full of actions that we can take to tackle climate change, and surveys such as this demonstrate why, more than ever, we need Greens in local government,” Cr Osborne said.

For further information or comment, contact Michael Osborne on 0439 442 984.

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