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Decisions by the people


Interview with Kevin Anderson

It was a bold experiment in democracy: asking 43 citizens to help shape the Melbourne City Council’s $5 billion, 10-year financial plan. How did it go?

WHEN Shuwen Ling received the letter from the City of Melbourne, she thought it was spam. Or maybe it was a fine? “It was on good quality paper,” she explains. “But when I read it carefully, I thought: ‘This is pretty cool’.” 

Ling is nearly 20 years old and it’s three years since she left her hometown, a few hours from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She studies finance and civil engineering at the University of Melbourne and lives in an apartment near the Vic Market.

THERE’S a homeless man living in our street. Or, more accurately, living in his car on our street. I first noticed him early this year. I’m not sure when he moved in – he’s good at it, see.

I know lots of my neighbours, and no one else seems to be aware of him (although I haven’t mentioned him to them, either). I’m going to call him Danny.

Danny comes and goes. He parks on our street half the days of the week, more or less.

LAST weekend, the G20 leaders agreed to increase economic growth by an extra 2 per cent or more. It’s a strange promise – if it was in their power to increase growth by that much, I’m sure they would have been doing it anyway. It’s also strange because of the troubling relationship between economic growth, as we know it, and carbon dioxide emissions.

So with those conundrums in mind, here’s an edited version of an interview I did early this year with climate scientist Kevin Anderson, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester.