On world environment day aussie governments opt for brown rather than green economy

3 June 2012

Media Releases 2012

Sustainable Population Australia


Patrons: Senator the Hon. Bob Carr, Dr Paul Collins, Prof Tim Flannery, Prof Ian Lowe, Dr Mary E White






Australian Governments opt for brown rather than a green economy


While a green economy is a worthy theme for this year’s World Environment Day on June 5, Australian Governments are determined that ours shall be a brown rather than a green economy.
Australia is moving further and further away from a sustainable future. Our total energy use increased by 19% in the seven years between 2001-2 and 2008-9. ABS estimates of Economic Demonstrated Resources of black coal were 1,103 EJ (exajoules) in 2009 with about 75% of our black coal being exported. Exports have increased by 50% in the last ten years increasing at 4.1% every year. If this rate continues half our black coal reserves will be gone in 17 years (2029) yet we have a government vigorously intent on exploiting as rapidly as possible, not only our black coal reserves but every single non-renewable resource as soon as it is discovered.
“A green economy will not happen if populations continue to grow” according to Dr John Coulter of Sustainable Population Australia (SPA). “As populations grow, the demand for oil and every other non-renewable resource becomes ever greater. Thus the push to exploit all resources with monumental environmental cost.”
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) says a green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.
SPA’s national vice-president, Dr John Coulter, says an ever-growing population can only add to increasing environmental demand and ecological scarcity.
Dr Coulter says we are losing species at an alarming rate, largely because of loss of habitat to human activities.
“For instance, there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild,” he says. “Indonesia’s population growth rate may have declined to 1.04 per cent, however, with a population of 246 million; that means an extra 26 million people a year.
“All these extra people have to be fed, clothed and sheltered. It means forests are cut down to grow food and fibre. It creates greenhouse gas emissions. There is nothing green in this kind of economy.”
Dr Coulter says the problem goes way beyond Indonesia.
“Australia’s population is growing much faster than that of Indonesia. Our much larger per capita environmental demand causes population increase here to have the effects mentioned above.  The carbon tax will not reduce Australia’s emissions while our population grows.”
“Population growth is a recipe for dysfunction, not for a green economy,” Dr Coulter says.

Further information: John Coulter 08 8388 2153


Environment , Federal Government
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