Teen activist angry over Rudd's change on climate

Samlara Canin-Henkel, 16, of Clunes, is disappointed with the Government’s lower-than-expected carbon emissions targets.
Samlara Canin-Henkel, 16, of Clunes, is disappointed with the Government’s lower-than-expected carbon emissions targets. DAVID NIELSEN

A POSTER of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hangs on Samlara Canin-Henkel's bedroom wall, but maybe not for long.

Samlara, 16, of Clunes, is so incensed with Mr Rudd's White Paper announcement of a 5 to 15 per cent carbon pollution emissions target for Australia, she has penned a letter to him.

The target compares poorly with Europe, which aims for a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

But while many Australians have expressed their dismay at Mr Rudd's White Paper, farmers are breathing a sigh of relief.

The White Paper states agriculture will be excluded from the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme for at least five years, with a review in 2013.

A young activist with a strong social conscience, Samlara met Mr Rudd several times at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last year.

In an emotion-charged letter she writes she was excited by the promises Mr Rudd made in his election campaign; and how disbelieving and disappointed she was when she heard of the emissions target.

“I am assuming, Mr Rudd, that you have bought land on the Moon and will be relocating there when the Earth can no longer sustain human life.

“Your campaign promised 'new leadership'. Your speeches promised hope. Your actions in Bali symbolised a new beginning for Australians. This emissions target is just not enough. Your response will be predictable I'm sure. 'We need to maintain solid economic growth during this financial crisis', or something along those lines. Quite frankly, 'economic growth' will mean nothing if the Earth's temperature continues to increase,” she writes.

The Prime Minister's response to the letter will decide if his poster remains on her wall.

If Samlara is not happy with the response she plans to speak to Mr Rudd at the final UN Climate Change Conference in Copen- hagen next year.

Kath Robb, an Alstonville dairy and beef farmer and NSW Farmers' Association representative, is worried farmers' issues haven't been properly addressed.

“The Government has said it will set up a work plan on agriculture and look at the relevant issues,” she said. “But there are concerns they are not looking at the whole carbon cycle. The Government says it will take into account the sequestration of carbon in forests, but won't take into account trees planted on farm properties.”

While agriculture was quarantined for the moment, farmers still faced big hikes in energy costs, she said.

The sugar industry fears it could lose land to forestry for carbon sinks under the plan.

Canegrowers Association chief executive Ian Ballantyne welcomed the exclusion of agriculture, but warned the industry faced a big threat.

“With the taxation incentives to get involved, even a small increase in forestry is going to bite into us,” he said.

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