IPCC Report - 10/08/2021

10 August 2021


This week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, released its sixth assessment report. This is the most comprehensive climate report ever released, produced by the world's most authoritative body on climate science, and its findings are deeply concerning. It is yet more evidence of the cost of the eight years of inaction by the Liberal-National party government, and that it's past time for this government to stop spinning and start taking action on this global crisis.

The new report found that, even under its most ambitious scenario, which the world is failing to stick to, global warming will likely hit 1.5 degrees Celsius by about 2035. On our current trajectory, we are likely to hit 1.5 degrees of warming in about 2030. This is in the context of, in 2015, the world agreeing to work together to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Clearly, we are failing.

Globally, warming has now reached about 1.1 degrees since industrialisation, according to the hundreds of scientists and governments that make up the IPCC. Here in Australia, warming has already reached 1.4 degrees, and the report said that these impacts will have particular relevance to Australia. Sea levels around Australia, which have already risen higher than the average, will continue to rise. Fires will get worse and more frequent, and fire seasons will last longer. Heavy rainfall and river floods are projected to worsen across Australasia, and droughts will also worsen. Australians are already seeing these impacts, and I don't need to remind anyone in Canberra and my region of the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020.

The new report was 'a code red for humanity', said the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He said:

The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.

…   …   …

This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet …

He said:

The viability of our societies depends on leaders from government, business and civil society uniting behind policies, actions and investments that will limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Yet our Prime Minister's response to this has been no change to the government's current policy—that is, inaction. Instead, they have merely said that they would 'preferably' like to get to net zero by 2050. It's not even a commitment. And this is the bare minimum that countries around the world are committing to, and the mounting evidence, including this report, is showing that we actually need to get there a lot sooner than that.

How will we explain this inaction to our children? How will we explain that we knew about this? We knew these impacts were coming and we did nothing. We allowed this to become a matter of politics—and, for this government, a matter of spin. This is about science. This should be above debate. But, within the Liberal and National party room, they are still having a debate around the science. Let's not forget that very recently they changed the Deputy Prime Minister of this country because some in that party room were worried about committing to net zero by 2050. What is perhaps worse is that the government continue to say that they are taking action when they are not, and they reiterated that in question time today. We are not taking action; we have been ranked last of 200 countries for our climate action. Under this government, Australia is becoming an embarrassment on the world stage, a backwater of ignorance and denial and inaction.

Labor is the only party of government that has ever delivered serious action on climate change and ever will, and an Albanese government will be no different. We are already making the plans and announcing the policies that will enable Australia to become a renewable energy superpower, and we know that good climate policy is good jobs policy. Under the former Labor government emissions fell by 14 per cent, real GDP increased by 17 per cent and employment rose by nine per cent. This is a great opportunity for Australia, but this is also action that we need to take now for the future of our planet; otherwise, all our other aims will become redundant.