Friday, October 01, 2010

ICT and Climate Change

The Australian Prime Minister announced a Multi-Party Climate Change Committee , 29 September 2010. The committee will address options for a carbon price and how to have a consensus on tackling climate change. The committee will consist of: PM chair, Minister Combet Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne Deputy Chairs, Coalition 2, Australian Greens 2, Mr Tony Windsor and other independents. Also experts will provide advice to the committee: Professor Ross Garnaut, Professor Will Steffen, Mr Rod Sims and Ms Patricia Faulkner.

Professors Garnaut and Steffen are from ANU. So I have told my ANU Green ICT masters students that they can write their assignment "Ways to reduce the carbon footprint" in the form of a background paper for the Climate Change Committee. With perfect timing, this week the AIIA released Graeme Philipson's new report : "ICT’s Role in the Low Carbon Economy", which provides useful material for the students (and the committee).

Also the expanded role of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for IT issues could help with the climate change problem. The major question for the committee is not how to tackle climate change (that is well known), but how to build a community consensus for this. Senator Lundy's new role as Parliamentary Secretary for PM&C should help, with her extensive experience in how to blend online consultation with face to face political processes. In particular the format of the Senator's "Public Sphere" computer aided face to face meetings can be applied to climate change issues.

It would easy for scientists to simply say "why do we need all this discussion, we know what needs to be done, lets just pass some laws", but as detailed at the "Democratizing Climate Governance Conference" at the Australian National University in Canberra in July, such an approach is unlikely to work.

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