In Australia, much of the debate about “environmental” issues remains stuck in the sixties – based on the view that you can have an environment or you can have jobs, but not both.

There’s been plenty of this from business whingeing about an emissions trading scheme – even the Rudd Government’s proposed No Polluter Left Behind model – and the Department of the Environment’s argument that somehow purchasing water for the Lower Lakes and Coorong would inflict $1b worth of damage on Australian agriculture. The possibility that the Garnaut Review might propose a low carbon reduction target suggests similar thinking might drive the emissions trading scheme.

Unless you think letting the planet cook is a good idea, there are significant savings from Australia moving quickly to reduce its carbon emissions regardless of what other countries do. And – contrary to what the Business Council might have us believe – there are plenty of Australian businesses that will innovate and thrive in the transition to a low-carbon economy. There are also plenty of farmers who would benefit from removing the water trading cap currently in place in Victoria.

It might be inconvenient for Australia’s biggest polluters and their media supporters, but it’s time for the debate to move on from the either/or mentality.