for news.com.au on Feb. 28, 2009
Australian 'Family First' senator Steve Fielding presents his views on family and the environment.
Divorce adds to the impact of global warming as couples switch to wasteful single lifestyles, Australian 'Family First' senator Steve Fielding says.
He told a Senate hearing on today that divorce led to a "resource-inefficient lifestyle" and it would be better for the planet if couples stayed married.
When couples separate, they need more rooms, more electricity and more water, which increases their carbon footprint.
"We understand that there is a social problem (with divorce), but now we're seeing there is also environmental impact as well on the footprint," Senator Fielding said.
The senator, who came from a family of 16 children, has been married for more than 20 years and focuses on family issues in his political life.
Senator Fielding read out quotes from a US report to the country's top environment bureaucrats.
"Mitigating the impacts of resource-inefficient lifestyles such as divorce helps to achieve global environmental sustainability and saves money for households," Senator Fielding quoted.
Ross Carter, from the Department of Environment, said he had not read the report but would look into the issue.
"Certainly, now that we're aware of it, we will discuss that with other agencies."
He said divorce was one factor that could diminish the efficiency of housing.
The Opposition and the Greens declined to comment on Senator Fielding's concerns.
However, one source said Senator Fielding's campaign could encourage couples to live together in sin to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, the hearing heard that the Government's promise to offer low-interest "green" loans to households may have stalled.
The $10,000 loans are for things like solar panels and low-energy lighting, and were to be available "by early 2009".
The hearing was told the scheme had not been finalised, and no contracts had been signed with the banks which are supposed to handle the loans.
Liberal senator Simon Birmingham said the Government appeared to have "stuffed it up".
"This green loans program is starting to look more and more like a bad loans program, the likes of which even Wall Street wouldn't touch," he said.
Almost 600 staff members had been trained to deliver the scheme and it would start this financial year, the Senate hearing was told.
Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said such programs could not get started overnight.