The environment has once more come to the attention of the general public, in the wake of Australia’s recently held federal elections. The reason? The recently elected and incoming Coalition is expected to alter the course of the country’s Climate Change Strategy, which aimed to improve Australia’s level of carbon emissions by 2020. Coalition leader Tony Abbott has expressed his opposition to the carbon pricing mechanism introduced by Labor a few years back; following the elections, the Coalition has also announced it would halve the current rebate for solar panels, bringing it down to $500 per household. This being the status quo, many have been left wondering about the future of environmentalism in Australia. Luckily, however, there is plenty to do in this respect, at individual household level.
According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 2008-2009, households in Australia produce massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Most of these emissions can be chalked up to the households’ consumption of various goods and services. The statistics, obtained through experiments and estimates, concluded that goods and services yield the largest amount of greenhouse gas (101 million tons per year). Electricity, gas, water, and waste removal services follow suit, with 76 million tons produced per year and then comes the production of food, beverages, and tobacco (with 43 million tons each year).
Statistics generated by EPA Victoria, a department of the state government, explain that households are one of the biggest sources of greenhouse emissions in the country. They allegedly produce no less than 20 per cent of the total amount of such emissions, which amounts to a dramatic 18 tons per household per year. Transport services amount to 34 per cent of that total, followed by water heating (16 per cent), electronics and other appliances (15 per cent), and home heating and cooling systems (11 per cent). The same authority encourages Australians to implement a series of simple changes, in order to make sure they are lowering their emission levels. Some of those strategies include:
The issue of transport is two-fold: personal means of transport and the transport of consumer goods. Public transport and cycling are two (relatively) carbon neutral ways of getting about. In terms of consumer goods, it always pays off to buy from local producers, since their products require far less resources to be transported from one producer to consumer.
Lowering electric bills
As seen above, appliances and electronic gadgets account for a large chunk of a home’s CO2 emission levels. Washing machines take a high toll on the environment and the negative environmental effects of grid powered tumble dryers are also well-known. Choosing to limit consumption of electricity to more responsible levels is a good strategy, both where the environment is concerned, but also when it comes to saving money and lowering the monthly cost of bills.
The ecological argument in favor of second-hand products is that they are already on the market. By buying already existent products, one avoids generating more greenhouse gas from producers of various goods. To boot, it’s usually far more affordable than purchasing new products.
It’s important to understand that, at the moment, Australia is part of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development. This partnership was entered into, in order to create a global context for reducing greenhouse emissions. The member states include China, India, Japan, South Korea, as well as many other major mining powers around the world. It is, of course, essential that measures are taken at household level, but the issue of industrial greenhouse emission production is also playing into Australia’s situation in this respect. Yet future developments in this field are currently tied in with political decisions – they are still up for grabs at the moment.