01/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Cooked Goose

If you thought that electing Obama was going to lead to action on global warming you might take a look at this week's events in Australia. A year ago the equivalent of the Democratic Party was elected in Australia, replacing the Republican equivalent party of John Howard (George Bush's best buddy). Howard had worked with Bush to prevent any international action on climate change and refusing to sign up to Kyoto. Kevin Rudd was elected on a platform a significant element of which was an immediate signing of Kyoto (which he did) and a promise to set GHG reduction targets of 20% by 2020 (and 60% by 2050, for what that is worth). He has postponed the latter, first by setting up an enquiry with an effectively predetermined outcome (recommending only a 2020 target in the range 5-15%) and then this week announcing that he would accept only the very lowest target in that range -- a derisory 5%. In that year there has been massive pressure from big business, energy companies, mining companies, farmer's organisations, and the Murdoch press. In addition Rudd's cabinet seems to have a number of denialists present. And in the background, beavering away, racking up the pressure when it seemed there was some chance of a real target being set, are the right wing think tanks and denialist organisations. Germany may well have seen similar activity with its announcements last week in Poznan which simply reflected the wishes of big business.

I would like to see Barack Obama put pressure on both Rudd and Merkel, in the nicest possible way, to rejoin the international community. But I think he is going to have his work cut out not being swamped by the same wave that has overtaken Mr Rudd. Most of us thought that with growing public awareness of the rapidity of climate change and its dangers, and with the completion of the Bush term of office, the world could at last, very belatedly, start to move. But the closer that has come to reality, the more active becomes the resistance. These people are determined to exploit every last inch of the Earth while there is still an Earth to exploit. I don't think they have thought beyond that point. We have to, and we have to make sure that the pressure coming from the climate realist side is greater than that coming from the climate denialists. So far they are 2 to zip, coming into the ninth.

If you have a blog -- use it, if you have the ear of a politician -- speak into it, if you are able to protest -- make a banner, if you hear a lie -- correct it. Be as noisy as the geese who saved Rome. If Copenhagen fails all our gooses are cooked.