House debates

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Motions

Climate Change

4:43 pm

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

I seek leave to move the following motion:

That the House:

(1) declares an environment and climate emergency;

(2) recognises that:

(a) the recent report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 °C, indicates that we are facing a climate emergency, and as a result, meaningful action on climate change is urgent, at home and internationally;

(b) this IPCC report has found that the world is not on track to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius;

(c) at a national level, England, France, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Canada have all declared a climate emergency; and

(d) unmitigated climate change will lead to a steep increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events that will devastate large parts of Australia and radically impact food production, water availability, public health, infrastructure, the community and the financial system; and

(3) notes that the Government has acknowledged urgent action is required to address climate change and calls on the Government to take urgent action consistent with avoiding catastrophic climate change, the goals of the Paris Agreement and internationally accepted science.

Leave not granted.

I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the member for Melbourne from moving the following motion immediately—

That the House:

(1) declares an environment and climate emergency;

(2) recognises that:

(a) the recent report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 °C, indicates that we are facing a climate emergency, and as a result, meaningful action on climate change is urgent, at home and internationally;

(b) this IPCC report has found that the world is not on track to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius;

(c) at a national level, England, France, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Canada have all declared a climate emergency; and

(d) unmitigated climate change will lead to a steep increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events that will devastate large parts of Australia and radically impact food production, water availability, public health, infrastructure, the community and the financial system; and

(3) notes that the Government has acknowledged urgent action is required to address climate change and calls on the Government to take urgent action consistent with avoiding catastrophic climate change, the goals of the Paris Agreement and internationally accepted science.

If the government can declare a budget emergency, then parliament can declare a climate emergency. Nothing is more urgent than acting when people's lives and livelihoods are under threat. That is what we are witnessing now. This is urgent because people are going to the wall because of climate change. We are experiencing record drought. Some of our communities have been told to expect that they might run out of water over the coming months. Parts of Australia were on fire barely two weeks into spring, and it is clear that we do not have global warming under control. Let me read you a quote:

There is growing agreement between economists and scientists that … risk of catastrophic and irreversible disaster is rising, implying potentially infinite costs of unmitigated climate change, including, in the extreme, human extinction.

That isn't a quote from the people who were out protesting over the last couple of weeks. That isn't a quote from a political party in this place. That is a quote from the IMF, who now understand that extinction is a very real possibility if we do not get global warming under control. What it will mean, if we don't act soon, is that the carrying capacity of the planet shrivels to a billion people by 2100. That is what we are on track for at the moment. That means that by the time my daughter is in an aged-care home or enjoying her retirement we will be on a planet where we have gone from 7.5 billion down to one billion people. I do not want to think about the wars, the conflict, the persecution, the people movements and the fights over resources that are going to come with that, but that is what the world's scientists have told us we are on track for, unless we get global warming under control.

The first step in tackling a problem is admitting that you've got a problem. There have been far too many statements like, 'It is okay and climate change is under control'. It is not. It is clearly not under control. We need to move this suspension of standing orders, and we can deal with it quickly, because it's not a motion that seeks to condemn the government and it's not a motion that seeks to take a particular stance on a particular policy issue. It's a motion that stands in the footsteps of the United Kingdom—where the conservatives have a majority—who have declared a climate emergency, and of Canada, France, and the many other jurisdictions around the world who have said it is time to tell the truth to people about how severe it is.

If we do it, we are sending a very clear message to everyone who is suffering through drought, to everyone who is worried about the next heatwave and to everyone who is worried about water drying up and rising sea levels: we hear you, we understand this is an emergency and we are going to act accordingly. It is critical that we don't just say the science leads us to an emergency but that we declare it, so that we send that message absolutely loud and clear. Once we have declared it, then we can have a sensible debate about the best way to get there. This is a motion that has its genesis with the Greens and the crossbench and is now getting support from Labor. It's something that should, just like in the United Kingdom, get support from the conservatives as well.

I say to all of those members on the government side: if you accept the science of climate change then you have to accept what the science is telling us to do. That is to urgently cut pollution. Yes, we can have a debate about how we get there, but we have to accept that. This is an opportunity for every individual member of the government to take a stand, because history will judge where people line up on this vote. History will look back and ask whether we had the courage to tell it like it is and say, 'It's an emergency and we are going to start to act accordingly.' This will put Australia in lock step with the rest of the world and it will be the first step towards telling the truth about how serious global warming is and then starting to fix it.

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