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Beyond light bulbs: individual responsibility and climate action

International negotiations have failed to give us strong global commitments on climate change. Nations are falling short on their commitments for greenhouse gas emission reductions. Forget top-down solutions…

Most people struggle to do more than the basics when it comes to climate change action. What pushes others to really take on the challenge? Province of British Columbia

International negotiations have failed to give us strong global commitments on climate change. Nations are falling short on their commitments for greenhouse gas emission reductions. Forget top-down solutions: it’s time to shine a light on what community action can achieve.

After 20 years of deliberation, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has brought us no closer to keeping global temperature rise to two degrees. Global trajectories of increasing carbon emissions have not been stymied nor have nations successfully reined in their emissions (even where strong climate policy exists, such as in the UK). Since the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009, there has been a significant decline in citizens’ interest and belief in global solutions.

But countries are still calling on their citizens to change their lives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even back in 2007, the Howard government was hectoring Australian families to “Be climate clever”. Similar examples can be drawn from the USA, UK and European Union.

These calls for individual responsibility have largely failed to shift citizen action beyond what they can do within their personal resources – small, simple steps such as changing lightbulbs, buying energy efficient appliances and making minor changes in consumer and personal behaviours.

Al Gore, amongst others, has called for an uprising of civil action that would force political change on climate change in the same way as the Arab Spring has done for democracy. However in Western nations where government leadership on climate change is failing, citizens’ trust in politicians and governments continues to plummet and hopes for a global climate movement are not being realised.

My research with Australian Climate Action Groups suggests that such strategies will continue to fail until we overcome the social and institutional barriers stopping individuals from making more significant changes.

I identified three barriers:

  • disempowerment
  • lack of trust in politicians and political institutions
  • inability to reflect on the root causes of climate change (in effect, our systems of production and consumption that have ignored nature’s limits).

Only a small proportion of the community chooses to take forms of collective political action but this seems to be changing. 100% Renewables, made up of about 100 local community-based groups, is one group that is strengthening every day. They join a growing and diverse array of community-based groups becoming more vocal and politically active around their community concerns related to coal exploration, mining and export and the need for renewable energy alternatives. How have they overcome the barriers above?

It is true to say that only certain people join community-based collectives. For the most part they are middle class, highly educated professionals, often freed up from immediate family responsibilities who have higher levels of risk-perception regarding climate change. While their initial motivation for action may be rooted in their understanding of climate change science, they are motivated to join with other, like minded people based on a sense of moral outrage and responsibility.

They understand for their action to be effective that it needs to be politically focused, collective and conducted in the public arena. The group facilitates their action – providing individual members with a supportive and safe environment for testing their convictions through riskier forms of activism. Members develop trust, learn and act together. In this way they forge a group identity which provides authority, legitimacy and authenticity to their collective action.

People who join together to take political action on climate change have got over their feelings of powerlessness and distrust. Involvement in the group bolsters individual members’ confidence around their voluntary actions. In coming together they develop and apply political and advocacy skills. In the process of group dialogue and deliberation, they practice democracy.

Members of these groups have breached the gap between their personal concern and moral obligation around climate change and their ability to take action on a political level.

People who come together voluntarily in local groups to take action on climate change become increasingly confident and skilled in their action. They now provide a real political alternative for climate change action. But it is larger advocacy groups, such as national environmental organisations, who tend to have the ear of governments and politicians. Instead, they need to harness these groups of knowledgeable, empowered and politically astute citizens.

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  1. Luke Weston

    Physicist / electronic engineer

    The root cause of the anthropogenic contribution to radiative forcing is anthropogenic contributions to carbon dioxide and certain other heteronuclear molecules in the atmosphere, not "our systems of production and consumption that have ignored nature’s limits".

    And "100% Renewables" is in no way the same thing as the replacement of stationary coal, oil and gas-fueled energy generation with zero-carbon generation that supplies the same amount of energy with the same availability and dispatchability in the fastest practical construction timeframe at the lowest possible price with the lowest environmental impact.

    Anyone who takes watermelon politics and dresses it up as scientific ecology certainly faces barriers to wide public support, particularly from the scientific community.

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    1. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Luke Weston

      Did you dig that up from Yes Minister Luke?

      I for one don't quite understand what you are trying to say. I understand your first paragraph, sort of, although I suspect if have used 'asymmetric' rather than 'heteronuclear' it might have been clearer.

      As for the second and third paragraph I'm at a loss and I don't understand your reference to 'watermelon politics"?

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  2. Suzy Gneist
    Suzy Gneist is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Multi-tasker at Graphic Design & Montville Coffee

    Locally, some refer to the actions of our local groups (local farmers market initiatives, sustainability fairs, cooperatives, etc) as 'subversive' (meant tongue in cheek ;) - an attempt to transform society from the ground up after lack of sustained action from above.

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    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      Ms Gneist, next time you go to a 'Sustainability Fair" make sure you go early to make sure you get a park close to the fair.

      And stop flying.

      Gerard Dean

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    2. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      I thought personal attacks were and inane comments were supposed to be discouraged here.

      So all I can say Gerard isn't it time you shut up unless you have something of real substance to say which, from my observations, seems unlikely.

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  3. John Newlands

    tree changer

    I have a tiny suspicion that the 'educated professionals' who live in renewable powered enclaves tend to take flying holidays and indulge in other cash intensive pastimes. That erases whatever the small car, the solar panels and the low meat diet achieves, though perhaps we'd better get used to involuntary rationing in the years ahead..

    Emissions and other environmental bads would be less of a problem if there were half as many of us. Perhaps if we'd seen this clearly circa 1960 and kept world population to 3 bn people we could have had a renewables dominated energy system by now. There might even be enough leeway for some SUV driving and other guilty pleasures. Now we have population blackmail whereby Australia is obliged to send coal to India to raise their living standards. I expect a global crisis within a decade.

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    1. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to John Newlands

      Be very careful John that you don't fall for that fascist tendency of labeling and 'dismissing' a whole group of people. After all it is not such a big step from

      'All educated professionals are environmentally irresponsible'

      to

      'all Afghanis are anti social' or whatever.

      I do however completely agree with your second paragraph, that our addiction to continual massive growth is indeed a major problem. I also think the 'global crisis' when it comes will not be pretty.

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  4. Liam Hanlon

    Student

    Individual action will never solve climate change considering, as you rightly identified, the problem is our economic system's overuse and poor distribution of resources. Large industry requiring the burning of vast amounts of fossil fuels is the main problem and changing some lightbulbs, however well meaning, will not change that fact.

    But like you said people have pretty much given up on governments to do anything. What is needed is a revival of the grassroots campaign for climate action we saw worldwide before the complete failure at Copenhagen and its needs to continue to grow rather than give up when defeated. Its tough but people can force change.

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    1. Toby James

      retired physicist

      In reply to Liam Hanlon

      As the author says: "lack of trust in politicians and political institutions". However, that's not the whole story. After Copenhagen, the trust in climate scientists slumped rather badly - and it hasn't recovered, and it may be decades before it does.

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    2. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Toby James

      What exactly are you suggesting Toby?

      I trust you're not suggesting that the science or climate scientists were somehow deficient?

      I would have thought it was the trust in politicians that went through the floor?

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    3. Toby James

      retired physicist

      In reply to John Campbell

      The problem for climate scientists, i.e. credibility, has taken a major hit among the greater community of scientists, itself. And that , in turn, is having its effect on the MSM. Thus, the weakening degree of urgency is spreading among the wider community.

      People such as Dr. Hansen of NASA and Dr. Mann are not regarded as highly as they once were. Many leading scientists once assumed, without giving it much thought, that they were what they seemed to be. On further consideration, Hansen and Mann, as just two examples, are no longer held in the regard they once were.

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    4. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Toby James

      Hansen and Mann have always been hated by climate science deniers.

      As for the rest of your fantasy, we now have the World Bank, the IMF, the International Energy Agency as well as all the world's major scientific organisations calling for urgent action on climate change.

      Get your nose out of those climate denial blogs for a few minutes Toby and look around. The rest of the world is laughing at the climate cranks.

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    5. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    6. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike the world bank have been calling for action on AGW for ages. I have no problem with this position if they (the board members) are also prepared to never be mining shareholders, invest in emissions trading schemes or tudor polluting companies on how to rort these market systems.

      Personally, I am highly sceptical of referencing banks as advocacy for sound environmental policy.

      https://theconversation.com/a-short-history-of-banks-and-democracy-11991

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  5. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    The author claims, 'they need to harness these groups of knowledgeable, empowered and politically astute citizens.'

    Are these the same knowledgeable, empowered and politically astute citizens who choose, and I stress the word choose, to burn JetA1 fossil fuel to fly overseas for the own pleasureable holidays.

    Or are those climate change hypocrites another group of knowledgeable, empowered and politically astute citizens.

    Changing light bulbs - what a joke.

    Gerard Dean

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      "Changing light bulbs - what a joke." Perhaps a joke for someone on a high income but for the less well off, those energy hungry 60 watt downlights et. al. that are popular with builders can make a real dent in the budget. Probably why solar panels are popular in the outer working class suburbs and retirement hotspots but not so popular in Toorak.

      In terms of climate change, not a joke but really only scratching the surface. If you had read the article before spamming it, you would have noticed…

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    2. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

  6. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    The author claims, 'They now provide a real political alternative for climate change action.'

    Absolute rubbish!

    Why? Because politicians know that the knowledgeable, empowered and politically astute citizens who claim they want action on climate change are totally against taking concrete action to reduce fossil fuel usage because it will AFFECT THEM. By affect, I mean higher petrol prices, higher airfares, higher electricity prices and higher food prices.

    Politicians know that most people who claim to want action on climate change are hypocritical in their own energy usage and voting intention.

    Don't blame the politicians. Just stop clicking Buy Tickets on the Jetstar website.

    Gerard Dean

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    1. Jeremy Hall

      PhD student

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      You seem to be more or less on topic Mr Dean...
      I'd say the main goal of this movement is to make it easier to avoid such hypocrisy, by enforcing renewable fuels, total carbon offsets, etc. Higher airfares & gas costs will indeed be part of the cost.
      Would you be in favour of ending the hypocrisy in this way?

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  7. Liam J

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Nice in theory Ms Kent but its slow going, maybe its time we took a trick from more successful enterprises (Adventists, Jehovahs, electricity retailers..) and start going door to door. Yes, literally.

    Cheer up though, interesting savings are being made in the shrinkage of western economies, e.g. greater reductions in vehicle miles travelled in US than anyone dreamed of a decade ago, Aus 'lecky demand down 5? years in a row, praise Limits to Growth! Rationing energy by price has its good points, if only those snakey foriegners would stop printing their tickets.

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  8. Trevor S

    Jack of all Trades

    We have tried to live a much more sustainable lifestyle. We live rurally, for that just that reason plus the ability to have a more Thoreau like connection with nature. We did it as an experiment, for similar reason to Thoreau, can it be done. what do we have to change etc We bushwalk, cycle and kayak locally for our "tourism".

    Individuals won't change anything, for the same reason politicians don't, it's way too hard, if it was easy it would have been done already. To do anything with efficacy…

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  9. SUSTAINABLE POPULATION PARTY

    Written & authorised by William Bourke, Sydney

    Dave Gardner from GrowthBusters humerously shows that there is something people can do, that will have around twenty times the individual impact on reducing their carbon footprint (and surely many other environmental impacts), than simply relying on behavioural change...

    Have a smaller family:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC2Wu1SqhTE&feature=youtu.be

    In terms of public policy, limiting the baby bonus and paid parental leave to each woman's first two children would be a good start.

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  10. Mark Pollock

    Analyst

    The groups the author describes sound exactly like religious cults. The individual merges with the collective within a persuasive self-reinforcing ideology. It's no wonder these groups are becoming more marginalised.

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      "The individual merges with the collective within a persuasive self-reinforcing ideology"

      which as well as having some truth to religious cults is also has some truth of many of those who support a particular political party and what happens at meetings of business leaders.

      For example the ignoring of peak oil and the idea that population growth is essential for our economic growth are both part of the collective business culture within a persuasive self-reinforcing ideology.

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Marginalised? LOL. You need to read beyond Andrew Bolt's blog Mark.

      "By 2001 over 100,000 families belonged to wind turbine cooperatives, which had installed 86% of all the wind turbines in Denmark, a world leader in wind power. Wind power has gained very high social acceptance in Denmark, with the development of community wind farms playing a major role."

      "In Germany, hundreds of thousands of people have invested in citizens' wind farms across the country and thousands of small and medium sized enterprises are running successful businesses in a new sector that in 2008 employed 90,000 people and generated 8 percent of Germany's electricity. Wind power has gained very high social acceptance in Germany, with the development of community wind farms playing a major role."

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_wind_energy

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    3. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      It is worth noting that in Australia building such wind-farms would achieve nothing if we have an ETS and the government does not change the target to take into account such actions.

      An ETS can ensure that we meet a specified target. If the ETS is set to reduce emissions by 0.5% of 1990 levels in 2020 then:

      if the wind farm is not built then our emissions will be reduced as planned.

      if the wind farm is built electricity retails will need to buy fewer permits, thus lowering their price on the market. The permits will be bought by someone else (at a cheaper price) and our emissions will be exactly on target.

      Under an ETS individual action to reduce emissions is not just negligibly small, but achieve exactly nothing.

      This could be fixed if the government released fewer emission permits to take into account the actions of individual and co-operatives, but not only are Labor unlikely to do this, I've not even heard this possibility discussed.

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    4. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Nah. Businesses try and avoid that kind of debilitating groupthink. Those that indulge go broke quickly. Political parties? Maybe - look what's happening to Labor on its road to oblivion. Again, there is a correction as the fantasy comes on a collision course with harsh reality.

      Taxpayer funded agit-props will wallow in their delusions for as long as the grant money flows. They have no real support, nor indeed any need for real support, and when the stream of money dries out they fade away.

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    5. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      How many would have joined were it not for the substantial subsidies? Isn't this a bit like buying friends for your Facebook account. It's just as meaningless.

      And again, the is Germany and Denmark, both large net energy importers. They are connected to the European grid and when they wind don't blow they can seamlessly plug into that nice, cheap, reliable French nuclear, or any number of 24 by 7 dirty ole coal plants. Being pure in Europe is cheap and convenient as long as you don't think about it too much.

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    6. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      "In order to meet peak times of electricity consumption, Germany also imported 43.8 TWh of power, of which 13.2 TWh alone came from nuclear power operators in France."

      Base load. It's a fudge.

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    7. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Of course, things mightbhave changed dramatically some 2009. But I doubt it. And of course, this data isnt cherry picked from an activist web site. What about Denmark?

      "0Germany is one of the largest consumers of energy in the world. In 2009, it consumed energy from the following sources:[17]
      Oil 34.6%
      Bituminous coal 11.1%
      Lignite 11.4%
      Natural gas 21.7%
      Nuclear power 11.0%
      Hydro- and wind power 1.5%
      Others
      Renewable energy is more present in the domestically produced energy, since Germany imports about two thirds of its energy.

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    8. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      66.6 - 43.8 = 22.8 TWh net EXPORTS

      Your claim was "Germany and Denmark, both large net energy importers. "

      Whatever you analyse, I hope it does not involve numbers.

      It is also normal behaviour when proven to be wrong to admit it. Not behaviour that I would expect from a climate science denier however.

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    9. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      What a load of nonsense. The cost of "green power" in Germany is causing skyrocketing electricity costs and energy intensive companies are moving to the USA where power from cheap gas is available.
      Check the wind power output in Germany in November 2011 to see how useless it is as a reliable source of supply. A huge investment in wind power produces virtually no power for one third of the month, When wind does produce consumers have to pay a huge premium for the energy.
      http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/uploads/media/2012_01_09_EIKE_Germa_energy_turnaround_english.pdf

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  11. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

    Individual action to reduce personal emissions can at best make only a trivial contribution.

    But shutting down coal power plants and replacing them with renewables, and spending billions on public transport and cycling whilst putting a carbon price on petrol could result in double digit emission cuts.

    So the only way for an individual (or small group) to make a difference is political action because only government can do the big actions needed.

    There are two ways people can take political…

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  12. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    " Since the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009, there has been a significant decline in citizens’ interest and belief in global solutions. "
    Some polls may indicate decline Jennifer and that could be as a result of what happened at Copenhagen, dubbed Hopenhagen and somewhat remembered for the description it is alleged Kevin Rudd gave to the Chinese.
    To me, what really came out of Hopenhagen was the magnitude for meaningful change faced when it is appreciated just how much consumption occurs…

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Greg North

      The BOM and CSIRO have now said that Australia's climate has already changed.

      The historical data is the old climate, one that we will not see again.

      If the current science is only half right in its predictions, what sort of climate will these kids be experiencing when they are my age (54)?

      And how much more open minded can I be to include "if the current science is only half right" in my lament of our future.

      Greg North's comment is just spin carefully designed to appear rational.

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      " If the current science is only half right in its predictions, what sort of climate will these kids be experiencing when they are my age (54)? "

      I suppose your guess would be as good as mine Michael and it'll also depend no doubt on where those kids might be residing or cycling to.

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    3. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Greg North

      Rather than you or I guessing, how about examining the extensive research that has been done on the likely impacts of climate change?

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  13. Mike Hansen

    Mr.

    Great article Jennifer.

    This discussion goes back to the beginning of the environmental movement and the split between the "counter culture" - the idea that the solution was "tree changing" - and those who wanted political action to defend the environment.

    The counter culture was a failure as a movement. In some cases it became quite reactionary.

    The fact is that individual action on climate change will not solve the problem. Which is not to say individual action is irrelevant or unimportant - the high penetration of solar panels is impacting the coal generator's profits for example.

    But we need to change the energy infrastructure of our entire society. And the only way that can happen is through political action. The big environmental groups need to get out of Canberra and back organising in local communities.

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      The high penetration of solar panels is a very expensive way of letting people make money whilst thinking they are making a difference.

      In fact at one stage under Rudd adding solar actually increased emissions because it was funded by power retailers not having to have as many renewable energy certificates.

      If Abbott wins the next election it is unlikely that he will fully fund his Affirmative Action (the fiscal situation is worse than we thought, so unfortunately we can't afford Affirmative…

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Nonsense Michael. You whine about the spamming of the climate science deniers yet you are doing the same thing - making unsubstantiated claims.

      The current feed-in tariff for Victoria is 8c a kWh. There is no way that you can make money from that feed in tariff. Which is why the renewables sites have lots of articles about batteries - you are much better using the energy yourself.

      And solar panels are making a difference - not enough granted - but it is unlikely that there will ever be a new coal fired power station built because of the reduction in demand partly due to pink batts, wind and solar panels.

      http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/australia-may-have-up-to-10gw-of-solar-pv-by-2017-71720

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    3. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      I'm very different from the deniers .. I don't claim to always be right and I'll listen to the evidence.

      There are posts on The Conversation where I have apologised for getting things wrong or have changed my mind based on the evidence.

      I'm not up-to-date with the home economics of solar cells - so you probably are right that in Victoria now it is not something that makes the home earner a profit.

      But this is only a recent change - the main reason for the high numbers of solar cells is…

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    4. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      "the main reason for the high numbers of solar cells is that for most of the time it was profit making"

      No. The people on higher feed in tariffs paid a lot more for solar PV systems. e.g. in Victoria 2-3 years ago a 3kW system cost more than $10,000 (after RECs) with a feed-in tariff (now closed) of 60 cents a kWh. The same system can now be purchased for around $4,500 (after RECs) with a feed-in tariff of 8 cents a kWh.

      The original high feed in tariffs were designed to encourage a solar PV…

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    5. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Getting back on topic, I believe we need to take the same "wedges" approach to political action.

      We need to get people involved at a community level. As Jennifer says
      "People who come together voluntarily in local groups to take action on climate change become increasingly confident and skilled in their action. They now provide a real political alternative for climate change action."

      But those local groups should not be seen as "bump me into parliament" organisations for the Greens. We need to get everyone from across the political spectrum involved including conservatives. The climate cranks are a small minority with a loud voice courtesy of Murdoch.

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    6. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      What I'm urging is some rational discussion of what concerned individuals and community organisations can do to make real change.

      Not some nice community greenwashing where they can pretend they have done something - but what actions and activities have a realistic chance of making a difference.

      I attended a rally held by a 'families for action on climate change' local group many years outside Kelly O'Dwyer's office (Liberal member of Higgins). Half of the small group of 'protesters' were children…

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    7. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael. Can I suggest you read David Spratt's piece on the brightsiding of climate change political action.

      The lack of action at a community level is not unrelated to having an ALP-Greens government. That is where all the environment groups are currently focused.

      As David says (and backing up Jennifer's article)
      "The change we need is not going to happen without mass civic participation and a people power’s movement for transformation. We must all help to build these. It is here that the…

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    8. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike - Please read what I say. I have never said that for things to change the Greens need to get a majority. In fact my last post made clear that if the Greens vote doubled or tripled in the lower house then they would only gain a very few seats (hold Melbourne, gain one in Sydney, not much more).

      The challenge we face is getting the major parties to take action. That people like you don't care how people vote is why the major parties both feel safe moving further to the right - not only on climate…

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  14. Leigh Burrell

    Trophy hunter at Trophy hunter

    The inner-city latte slurping lefty greens are hypocrites, plain and simple. They could set an example by eschewing vehicle ownership, recreational air travel and fossil fuel use. They choose not to.

    Do as they say, not as they do? No thanks.

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    1. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      Leigh, that would not be nearly enough. They should go and live in caves and subsist on roots and berries that they have foraged for themselves. Or maybe swap places with any of the billion or so humans who are living without the benefits of cheap carbon produced power.

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    2. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      They do more than most to try and reduce their footprint (Green Power, reduced car use).

      Cheers for the hateful, ridiculous overgeneralisation though.

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    3. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter at Trophy hunter

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Try perhaps, but fail:

      http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/5/3/1211

      "Three environmental lifestyle segments are established that represent the spectrum of attitudes, opinions and intentions across the surveyed population: “committed” greens, “material” greens and “enviro-sceptics” (representing respectively 33.5%, 40.3% and 26.3% of the population). Each segment was found to display distinctive socio-demographic attributes, as well as urban geographies. However, few differences were found in relation to each segment’s actual consumption of energy, water, housing space, urban travel and domestic appliances. The research findings indicate that in these areas of urban resource consumption—all principal contributors to the ecological footprint of households—there are sets of factors at work that override attitudes, opinions and intentions as indicators of consumer behaviour."

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    4. Leigh Burrell

      Trophy hunter at Trophy hunter

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Maybe they should just buy themselves some carbon credits. You can pick them up cheap in the EU.

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    5. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Leigh Burrell

      Which just goes to show that individual action is not a solution to climate change, and instead we need government to act.

      I also not that Leigh ignores the, to me rather important point, of whether or not climate change is a major threat, and if it is, what to do about it.

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  15. Mark Pollock

    Analyst

    Organisations such as 100% renewables are not really "community groups" as the phrase is properly used. They are government funded lobbyists. They claim to be "independent" but given that all their funding comes from the taxpayer it is difficult to see how this is the case. It would be nice if these hobbyists could get their supporters to put their hands in their own pockets to pay for their generous salaries. I wouldn't mind at all.

    Fortunately September is coming and the billion dollar a year climate change gravy train will lose a few fellow travellers.

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      I suspect that Mark would be happy to see university funding cut as well and The Conversation put to rest.

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  16. Gil Hardwick

    anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

    What I really would like to see change in these 'mass' debates is consideration of humanity not as 'anthropogenic' destroyers of the planet, as The Enemy, but as individual and responsible citizens really trying their best to do the right thing but frustrated at every turn with long-term global trajectories that are way out of reach, blame games that render them helpless, disinterested, and endless political squabbling that just plain straight-out turns them off.

    I have asked this here before…

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