Common Ground on climate change

Common Ground panelAhead of the release of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White Paper this December, the Centre for Policy Development (CPD) thought there was a need to bring all sectors of the community together to hammer out their differences on climate change policy in an atmosphere of optimism and cooperation.

What better way to do this than through Common Ground?
Common Ground: the event series that brings together people from different worlds, opposing parties or conflicting interest groups and invites them to talk about what they have in common. The CPD’s third Common Ground was held on Wednesday 26 November 2008, with over 150 people joining us at beautiful Customs House in Circular Quay, Sydney to hear Bob Carr (former Premier NSW), Pru Goward (NSW Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Environment) and a panel of diverse voices representing business, religious and minor party perspectives on climate change.

CPD fellows and subscribers joined representatives from business and environment NGOs as well as politicians, academics, and professionals from Sydney and around NSW to make up our biggest audience yet.

See photos of Common Ground on Flickr

After a quick welcome from CPD Executive Director Miriam Lyons, environmental economist and ANZSEE President Steve Hatfield-Dodds from the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change introduced the event and explained some of the basic science behind climate change and costs outlined by Federal Government modelling.

Bob Carr and Pru Goward took to the stage to give their keynote presentations with perspectives on the need to exercise leadership in tackling climate change, and the difficulties implicit in implementing long term changes that involve making immediate sacrifices. Bob Carr argued for a well-designed emissions trading scheme that didn’t include a fixed price for carbon; Pru Goward focused on the issue of consensus and democracy in international decision-making.

Our panel of speakers Fiona Wain (Environment Business Australia), Andrew Bartlett (former Democrats Senator) and Imam Afroz Ali then responded to Bob and Pru’s presentations before questions and answers from the audience.


Bob CarrBob Carr: We need a well-thought out emissions trading scheme in Australia that doesn’t have fixed carbon prices but lets the market determine costings through competition. We can’t blame India and China.

Pru GowardPru Goward: We must build consensus and debate climate change objectively and respectfully. Australia shouldn’t – and can’t – go it alone. We should take a responsible stance on India and China. We cannot rely on international negotiations or structures such as the United Nations.

Fiona WainFiona Wain: We shouldn’t wait for consensus – we need to use emerging technology and introduce soil carbon engineering.


Afroz AliImam Afroz Ali: We should look at climate change as an ethical issue as well as a political and environmental challenge to examine and improve our own behaviour (individually and as a nation) because it is the right thing to do, not because our politicians tell us it is or isn’t.

Andrew BartlettAndrew Bartlett: Individuals need to accept responsibility for climate change and begin to change their personal and economic behaviours, for example by reducing consumption of diary and meat, to build public support for change – rather than relying on our politicians.
Read a comprehensive analysis of the night’s discussion on Larvatus Prodeo

We’d like to thank those who attended, or sent their apologies, as well as the sponsors who made it all possible: Slater and Gordon Lawyers and the Climate Institute.

Ideas for future Common Ground events can be added as comments below – tell us which unlikely bedfellows you’d like to see sharing the stage later in 2009 or what you would change about the night…


Click on the attachment to read our speakers’ biographies.

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