Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The collapse of Transocean Ltd's Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Caribbean Sea a few days ago should be a wake-up call to governments, including in Australia.

"There will be shoreline impacts from this, eventually. There's no way that we will pick up all the oil that's been released," said a representative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Continued use of liquid fuel derived from naturally-occurring hydrocarbons is evidently unsustainable. The frequency of such accidents tells us that, despite the safety claims of producers, there is no guarantee wildlife will not be damaged by exploration and drilling.

And there are viable alternatives already. In Germany, wind-generated power has been so successful that generators have been forced to pay consumers to use their electricity. If the price of electricity from wind turbines can drop so low, what are governments waiting for?

Especially, what is Australia's Labor government waiting for? Their decision of recent days to delay renewed effort to pass a carbon trading scheme until 2013 is comprehensible only if we believe that there are people in the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism who are advising the government to delay.

By 2013 the game will have changed radically. Three years is a long time in politics, especially with an issue as volatile as carbon trading. By that time the ideas in currency within the community will have shifted, and it will be a completely different type of law that will be preoccupying the government, and us.

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