EDITORIAL: Dont get confused about climate change, get busy

By: Jason Whittaker


There's a certain irony that the sheer weight of paper consumed by writing reports on how to save the environment

There's a certain irony that the sheer weight of paper consumed by writing reports on how to save the environment has at least in small part helped destroy it.

Ross has launched his draft report, Penny has delivered a green paper, and there's discussion papers from the NTC and CSIRO. Bob wants to tax everything, Kevin wants to cap and trade gas, and Brendan isn't quite sure what to do. Your average trucking operator, perplexed by the whole debate, will sympathise.

Enough hot air. The earth, apparently, is already heating up. Here's what you really need to know about climate change.

Consultant Ross Garnaut has presented climate change as the clear and present danger most scientists now believe it is. Australia must move towards a system that caps the amount of carbon big polluters can use, he argues, forcing them to buy permits if they exceed their limit to encourage greater carbon reduction. Garnaut believes, as he made clear when questioned by ATN last week, that transport operators must be part of this emissions trading scheme and shouldn't receive any compensation for the increased cost of fuel and compliance.

The Federal Government's response, delivered in a green paper by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong on Wednesday, aims to deliver a trading scheme by 2010. Oil companies will be taxed for the emissions their fuel will produce, which is expected to add 6 cents per litre to the cost of diesel under a $20/tonne carbon tax scenario. Fuel excise will be cut for transport operators in the first year of emissions trading so there is no net increase in diesel costs, but that will be reviewed come year two.

In its report released this week, the National Transport Commission details the issues faced by transport operators in adapting to climate change. It looks at the incremental change possible through productivity reforms and argues for better metrics to measure emissions and better coordination and support from governments to clear the way for a more efficient, and more environmentally-friendly, transport sector.

Transport operators, of course, don't need reams of reports to know the cost of moving freight is rising. As Linfox's Environmental Manager David McInnes said at a briefing this week, that alone will drive the development of cleaner truck technology and supply chain-wide efficiency strategies. Linfox wants to go carbon neutral through reducing and offsetting emissions - a worthy goal for any transport service provider.

Pressure will come from multiple angles for operators to clean up their act. Price pressure, regulatory pressure, pressure from the community, ultimately, for greener goods and cleaner air.

But there's really only one reason why you need to do something about climate change - and it doesn't have to be wholesale business change, though that must come in time, and it doesn't even have to cost a lot, though running costs are certain to rise.

You must do something, simply, because it is the right thing to do.

And that's really all you need to know about climate change.

What do you think? Send us your feedback.

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook