Senate debates

Monday, 2 December 2019

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

5:24 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

'To err on the side of danger is a stupid thing to do.' Those were the words of Professor Will Steffen when commenting on the paper he and other leading scientists have just had released in Nature about our climate emergency. He continued, 'Our reaction time has to be fast, and to decarbonise by 2050 we have to really move now.' So, why are we faffing about and debating the failure of the severely flawed 'continue polluting regardless' scheme from 10 years ago? It was bad legislation then and it would be bad legislation now. It allowed for unlimited dodgy international permits and we would now be paying out billions of dollars to the big polluters as we realised we needed to increase the scale of ambition from what was anticipated in that legislation then.

What we need now is for the Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the National Party to join with the Greens in acknowledging the scale of the action that is needed to tackle our climate emergency. People want us to work together. Whether it's the student strikers, the scientists, the workers or the firefighters, they want us to work together. They do not want to see partisan attacks by Labor on the Greens. If Labor is determined to look backwards, it could actually look back to the successful policies that were introduced by the Gillard government, in alliance with the Greens, and commit to reintroducing a price on carbon. The price on carbon introduced during the time of the Gillard government was extremely successful in reducing our carbon pollution.

Looking forward from here at the reality that we face now, the scary reality we face now, is most important. We are calling on Labor and the government to join with us in taking the action that is necessary to tackle our climate emergency, and that is to rapidly end the mining, burning and export of coal, gas and oil. Anything else just does not cut it. Anything else is selling out the Australian community. It's putting us in danger, as well as the global community. Anything else than a rapid shift away from coal, gas and oil is condemning us to a future of extreme fires, to the creeping cancer of sea level rise, to ongoing drought, to crop failures, to the death of the Great Barrier Reef and to seeing far too much of our precious wildlife hurtling towards extinction.

It's not too late to turn this around. We can still act and we can still have hope, but we have to act now. The time for faffing around and being too clever by half, with attacks on the Greens, is well and truly over. The time to have action on our climate emergency is now. (Time expired)

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