Deconstructing carbon jargon Media Release

Jul 13, 2012 - 1:00am

Carbon, the way we view it, measure it, control it and price it has come to dominate debates of all kinds. So, what's all the fuss about?

This is the starting point of a Carbon 101 guide released by The Climate Institute today, alongside a podcast narration by Andrew Demetriou, CEO of the Australian Football League and Dr Graeme Pearman, former head of CSIRO Atmospheric Research, both of whom are Institute board members.

“We’ve had plenty of carbon jargon over the last few years. On top of that, carbon has become a political football as the Government, Greens and Coalition furiously contested the carbon laws,” said The Climate Institute CEO John Connor. “But carbon is finally being valued and understood as never before and it seems like a good moment to go back to the basics and explain to people why we’ve reached this stage and how we move on from here.”

The primer and podcast include ‘carbon 101’ descriptions of terminology and graphically explain how we now have too much of a good thing and why carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat trapping emissions from humans are rightly called carbon pollution.

Dr Pearman narrates: “Carbon is the sixth most abundant element in the world and can be found in the air, land, oceans. Carbon is an important component of our bodies. So carbon is not itself the problem.”

But accumulation of man-made CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere means there is excess carbon pollution, which “is upsetting the natural balance,” he adds. “As Australia’s chief science body, CSIRO, recently reminded us, CO2 levels are higher today than at any time in at least the last 800,000 years.”

Demetriou’s response questioning the carbon basics leads into a discussion about how Australia can shift to a low carbon economy, with carbon pricing as a starting step.

“A price and limit on carbon is one important step in the recalibration of our economics and the environment,” he narrates. “It makes big polluters accountable and consumers more aware of their consumption. It provides businesses with a powerful incentive to re-think their strategies, and drives innovation and competition towards a smarter, cleaner and healthier prosperity.”

“Backed by supporting policies and incentives, a price and limit on pollution will play a big part in the shift to a low-carbon economy.”

Connor said: “We felt it was important to go back to the basics and explain why we bother with carbon, as the carbon laws kick in and people try to understand how it all got so complicated. Now is the right moment for what is a users’ guide to carbon, its consequences and the growing carbon vocabulary.”

The video/podcast can be accessed here. Carbon 101 itself can be accessed here.    

For more information

Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299 

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