Monday, July 13, 2009

Gore to back 'map' of emissions reduction

Adam Morton and Geoff Strong

The Age, July 14, 2009

A FULLY costed map for how Australia could reduce greenhouse gas emissions "at emergency speed" will be developed with the backing of former US vice-president Al Gore.

The climate campaigner launched Safe Climate Australia, a non-government organisation modelled on Mr Gore's Repower America, a think tank pushing for the US to move to 100 per cent clean energy within a decade.

Mr Gore said Safe Climate Australia would be an apolitical, science-based bid to deal with "what many scientists have now been saying is truly a planetary emergency".

"The economists tell us the obvious response is to find opportunities to invest sensibly in the building of new infrastructure that can make our countries stronger and put people to work and give them money that they can spend to get the economy moving again," he said.

Safe Climate Australia foundation board member Ian Dunlop, former chairman of the Australian Coal Association, said it would draw on the most promising policies worldwide to cut emissions and find ways to suck greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. Its other major project is Run for a Safe Climate, a 6000-kilometre relay down the eastern seaboard by 35 emergency service workers who fear they will have to put their lives on the line as climate becomes more hostile.

A group of 35 will spend November running from the Daintree in North Queensland down the east coast before following the Murray River to Adelaide and the Great Ocean Road back to Melbourne.

It is timed to finish just before the world's leaders gather for the crucial United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

Organising the run is Michael Acreman, a metropolitan firefighter who had a climate change epiphany on February 7.

The following day he was part of a strike team that went to the Kinglake-Whittlesea area to help fight the fire and look for bodies among the ruins.

"I saw Black Saturday as an indication of climate change," Mr Acreman said.

"It was a powerful experience … our team saved a whole lot of buildings in the Whittlesea area, but now we realise that climate change means more of this. We have to convince people that something has to be done … more of this is going to happen."

Mr Gore said while no bushfire could be linked to climate change, their size and intensity would increase under climate change projections.

"The odds have been shifted so heavily that fires that used to be manageable now threaten to spin out of control and wreak damages that are far beyond what was experienced in the past," he said.

As well as firefighters, Run for a Safe Climate runners will be from the police (including one detective), ambulance and state emergency service.

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