House debates

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Matters of Public Importance

Climate Change

3:40 pm

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

We are governed by Neanderthals who are putting our lives at risk. We are barely a week into spring and already Australia is ablaze. We are suffering through the worst drought on record, and we've just been told to expect that our rivers are going to dry up even further over the coming months. We are being lied to by governments about the severity of the climate crisis. They are telling us it is under control, but pollution is going up and up and up under this government.

It is time to tell it like it is. At the moment, temperatures have increased by a degree since the beginning of the industrial era. We've signed up to the Paris Agreement to say we want to limit it to 1½ degrees. We got told last year that we could hit, at the current trajectory, 1½ degrees as soon as 2030. What's worse, at the moment the Paris commitments that the minister is so proud of—that he's cooking the books for and using dodgy accounting tricks that no-one else is using to say that they're going to meet their commitments—have the world on track not to keep global warming below 1½ degrees but to hit 3.5 degrees by the end of this century.

I don't know if the government understand what that means as they get up here and talk about how we should be proud of our achievements of increasing pollutions. The scientists tell us that a world that is warmed by four degrees has a carrying capacity of one billion people. One of my daughters is four years old. Her biggest worry at the moment is whether she's going to get a unicorn biscuit when we go to the markets this weekend—the answer is: 'You will if you're good.' But during her lifetime the carrying capacity of this planet is going to go down from 7½ billion to one billion people, if the scientists' predictions are correct. We are on the verge of extreme starvation, of massive conflicts and of movements of people around the globe like we have not seen before.

What we are witnessing at the moment, as our rivers dry up and as record drought hits Australia, is potentially going to become the new normal. I do not want it to become the new normal, but this government is doing everything within its power to make sure that Australia has worse drought conditions. The government wants to make sure the bushfire season goes for longer. It wants to see us have more heatwaves. If someone told you that you were doing something that made the likelihood of bushfires greater, you would think you would stop it. If the doctor told you that you are sick because you are smoking too much and you'd better quit, otherwise it might get worse, you'd think you would come up with a plan to quit. But what is this government doing? This government can no longer claim ignorance, because the facts are there. This government have the full knowledge about how bad the climate emergency is. They have been told we have to cut emissions by 2030, and what are they doing? They are saying we need more coal-fired power rather than a plan to phase it out. They are saying we need to frack the rest of the country and suck up more gas, even though methane is an incredibly toxic gas, more toxic than CO2. And they are increasing emissions. Yet the minister had the temerity to come in here and lead his speech with power prices. Guess what? The independent Energy Regulator confirmed last week that electricity bills were less under the carbon price than under this government. That's what the Energy Regulator confirmed—and we were cutting pollution then. This government, because of its ideological war on renewables and because it takes money from the fossil fuel industry and has no commitment to reducing pollution, has managed to do what no other government has done—increase pollution and increase power bills. That is the record of this government.

The minister boasts about renewable energy. That's because we had a thing called the Renewable Energy Target, which he tried to get rid of. That has ended. That has been met and will end in 2020, and we're now without any federal policy to bring new renewables into the system. This government stands condemned for increasing pollution year upon year, which is what it has done. People are going to look back at this debate, look at this government and see that this is the government that abolished the carbon price, lifted pollution and made global warming worse. And you will be held to account for it!


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