Sydney Uni Environment Collective debates the way forward

Current debates occurring within the Sydney University Environment Collective reflect the tensions in the wider climate movement.
A recent proposal to lobby the university into adopting on-site power generation reflects a desire to combat climate change with small-scale projects that seek to get communities off the grid.
It follows that we can all do our bit without having to confront the forces responsible for fuelling climate change. This approach favours symbolism and “empowerment”—but it is unlikely to be effective in really driving the scale of change needed.
If Rudd’s CPRS is implemented, all individual reductions in emissions will be negated because they simply free up more permits for big polluters.
Coal-fired power stations in NSW dump 57 million tones of CO2 into the atmosphere each year—and the NSW government has just approved two new power stations. It is clear that the blame lies with these big polluters, and not with ordinary people.
Good intentions aside, a campaign calling for on-site generation can only end up giving the wrong message—that individuals can buy their way out of climate change, and that we can get what is needed without building a mass campaign. 
It alienates the working class by reinforcing the concept that ordinary people have to pay their way out of this mess.
We need to be getting the message out there that we are for jobs and social justice, not for market mechanisms and price rises.
Jasmine, a member of the collective, says “This is one of the biggest ways that climate criminals get away with destroying the environment—they tell us, students and workers, to change our consumption patterns to ‘save’ the environment whilst they expand the very industries and technologies that have caused climate change!”
Now that climate change is an accepted phenomenon, environment campaigners need to be ready to respond to the constant bombardment of greenwash. Unless we expose the government’s inaction and the sham that is the CPRS—and actively campaign against it—we are letting them off the hook. Many think the CPRS is a solution and there is a desperate need for a radical opposition to it.  
Targeting the university administration in this context is highly misleading. These debates will shape the future of the movement and the effectiveness of the action we take.
By Erima Dall


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