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Forget the schemes. Just cut the carbon.

(This item is my entry for Blog Action Day October 15, 2009. It has also been posted to Earthwitness.)

There are times when it is really frustrating to be an Australian. We're in a great position to be a world leader in renewable energy production. Our politicians think so too... but only after they change the definition of "renewables".

In a country with ample sunshine our government curtails subsidies for home installations of photovoltaic panels and looks on as BP Solar quits the country to expand its operations in Spain.

Australia is identified as the world's biggest polluter per capita. Meanwhile, the government of New South Wales, Australia's most populous state and a political and economic basketcase, looks forward to an "era of prosperity" in which coal exports would triple.

At a time when the western world is recovering from a "global financial crisis" caused by the abuse of under-regulated and complicated financial instruments, we see the Rudd Government staking the future of the nation's climate change strategy in a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a new set of financial instruments for the market cowboys to play with. A scheme already factoring in concessions to the industries that pollute and deforest, and providing little, if any, incentive to the average Australian to do his or her own bit for carbon reduction.

The onslaught of climate change is accepted by most caring people these days. The consensus of scientific opinion is overwhelming, the evidence provided in the news each day is disturbing. It would be nice to be sceptical and cling to the slivers of doubt that prevail among a minority of scientists, but the risks in doing nothing are too great, the stakes in terms of human life much too high.

Already the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is ten per cent higher than the scientifically-accepted safe level of 350 parts per million. It's going to be a tough job to reverse that trend - it may already be too late - but act we must.

Playing with markets, preserving obsolete industries, creating schemes and acronyms don't guarantee achievement. It's time for government, Federal, state, worldwide, to stop the talk, cut the schemes, end the loophole talk, and just get on with the job of cutting carbon emission - deep, decisive and fast. Now.

Seal the deal at Copenhagen in December. Act on it before Christmas.