At the Australia 2020 Summit in Canberra yesterday, the Population, Sustainability and Climate Stream proposed that, by 2020, Australia should “be making a major contribution to a comprehensive global response to climate change, including working with our partners on clean energy”.

The Stream agreed that there should be a national sustainable cities program supported by taxes and other policies which encourage the use of public transport. By 2020, carbon neutrality should be required for all new buildings and all Australians should have access to smart meters measuring their energy and water consumption.

A proposal that no new coal-fired stations be built unless they have commercially proven carbon capture and sequestration received wide support and applause. However, the idea was opposed by a a group described by climate scientist David Karoly as industry figures within the stream and some others with concerns about the effects on coal mining communities. “There is and was within the group very strong support and a small minority of opposition that in the end prevented that because the minister and co-chairs wanted consensus,” Professor Karoly said.

As a result of the minority opposition to the idea and despite calls for a vote, Stream Co-Chair, Senator Penny Wong, refused to take the proposal forward. “We’ve not voted on anything else, we’ve tried to come to agreement, a consensus agreement,” she said.

Anna Rose, co-director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition commented “I found myself in the climate stream with representatives of … Xstrata and Shell, yet not a single person from an environment non-government organisation. No one from Friends of the Earth, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, Climate Action Network Australia or any of the state conservation councils.”

2020 Summit
2020 Summit