More communities are turning to climate change forums to educate themselves about sustainable living.
In Warrandyte, an outer suburb of Melbourne, a group called WarrandyteCAN regularly holds free informational forums to discuss climate change effects and solutions. The big question on everyone’s minds is about the forthcoming carbon tax set to encourage industries to begin using renewable energy technology, such as wind farms. And high on the list for every household is the cost of electricity in the changeover from fossil fuels to sustainable solar and wind energy.
Local residents recently braved the cold to attend the forum Who Pays for Climate Solutions?, to find out more about living in a rapidly changing environment and how it may affect their pockets.
Wayne Rankin, the founding president of WarrandyteCAN, says there are easy and affordable solutions.
“We are looking towards lessening the heavy footprint on the environment by using renewable energy and by so doing save money as well,” Mr Rankin said.
He said the value of the forums is in educating the community about current trends in sustainability.
“We have had things on solar power and wind power, but tonight it was around the carbon tax because it is such a topical thing at the moment.”
Guest speaker Marguerite Marshall was adamant: “In the best world, the biggest polluters should pay.”
Ms Marshall is a journalist and author who has been a climate change campaigner for 35 years. Her presentation at the forum was based on the recent book by Al Gore called Our Choice.
“We’ve got the answers, but it is our choice whether we do something about it or not,” Ms Marshall said.
The Australian Government is making moves to cut pollution by bringing in heavy taxes on carbon producing industries. But Ms Marshall says most people are panicking unnecessarily about paying extra costs.
“Fortunately, the Government is having a major advertising campaign because people are really ignorant about the facts. For instance, the cost of living is expected to rise [only] 0.7 per cent in 2012-13.”
Ben Courtice from Friends of the Earth emphasised the necessity of joining a group to bring about change.
“If we are going to get the large-scale changes we need, we really have to work with other people,” Mr Courtice said. “I belong to Friends of the Earth and we have groups that go out and do door knocking campaigns and tell people about it and put pressure on MPs.”
Mr Courtice says it’s important to keep a constant eye on the Government as it implements changes. For example, if brown coal production decreases, there may be an increase in gas production from shale, which could create more pollution.
The only solution, Mr Courtice says, is renewable and sustainable energy. He posed the question of not only using personal solar panels for homes, but also large solar cells to provide energy for big institutions like hospitals and industries.
“We are looking to make the transition on the broader scale as well as in our personal circumstances,” he said.Some forward-thinking companies like Siemens are recognising climate change business opportunities and are successfully producing sustainable technologies, such as wind turbines.
Perhaps the authors of Climate Code Red were right when they said: “The obstacles to implementing climate solutions are political and social in character, not technological or economic.”