Tuesday, 10 August 2021
I seek leave to move a motion relating to 2030 targets in light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Leave not granted.
Pursuant to contingent notice standing in my name, I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Waters moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to provide that a motion relating to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may be moved immediately and take precedence over all other business until determined.
We had a report last night that could not have been clearer in its warning. It is not the first time that we have had a clear warning and report from the world's scientists, but this one is the most urgent and the most pressing yet. I find it a little baffling that we have consternation in the chamber about the fact that 2030 is what we need to be talking about. You have a government whose targets for 2030 are so weak they are essentially one-third of what needs to occur to keep this country safe and to keep us underneath a 1½-degree tipping point, beyond which there is no return. Certainly this government's policies have on us on track for four degrees of warming. That's actually catastrophe. That is actually the end of agriculture as we know it. It's dead oceans. It's bushfires of such severity that we cannot even fathom it. It is not an option.
So, yes, we need to change the government. Of course we need to change the government. This government is controlled by its climate denialist backbenchers. They can't even bring themselves to meet with the scientists, let alone follow their advice.
Honourable senators interjecting—
I'm being reminded by my erudite colleagues here that it's not just the backbench that have a problem with science in the government; of course, it's many of their frontbenchers as well. So it is absolutely clear that the government of this nation, the Morrison government, are not doing what is necessary to keep Australians safe. They are, in fact, setting us on a trajectory of a death sentence for nature, for society and for our economy. Wrong way; go back.
What we cannot tolerate is discussion of 2050 without discussion of what needs to happen in the next 10 years. The report last night could not have been clearer: 2050 is too late. Net zero by 2050 is too late. We can do so much better. We can actually create a jobs boom. We can transition those existing fossil fuel workers into clean jobs that will last and that won't cause them health problems. We can actually tackle this crisis collectively as a nation and give our nation and the world the best shot at a safe future. But we need to be doing that rapidly and urgently by cutting emissions from the coal, oil and gas sector, not by opening up new coal, oil and gas fields and not by dishing out public money to help private companies do that—certainly not when those private companies are donors to either the Liberal Party or, in many cases, the Labor Party. It is about time we stopped those fossil fuel donors from exerting so much influence over policymaking. We welcome the fact that parliament has spent a short part of today—we would hope for the whole day—talking about this issue, but what we cannot stomach is the idea that 2050 is somehow enough.
We want to work with the opposition. We want them to be in government, but without the Greens in the balance of power you won't see the strong and urgent action that the scientists are saying is necessary. We had world-leading climate laws. That's what the Greens and Labor delivered under the Gillard prime ministership. It was working. It is the only time emissions have come down in our nation's history. It was world leading and it was axed by this climate-denying government. We want to work with the opposition when they are in government, and we want them to go harder and faster on the climate crisis, because we don't have any time to lose. Warming of 1½ degrees is a tipping point that we cannot go above. We know that if we even hit two degrees our global coral reefs will be written off.
I take umbrage at the quite extensive 'contributions', as I might term them, from the opposition to our suspension motion. We know 2050 is too late. Delay is the new denial. We need this parliament to be talking about 2030 targets. The government's 2030 targets are so weak that they have us on a path which is a death sentence. I'm sick of fossil fuel companies calling the shots on our nation's climate policies. So is the rest of the country. For God's sake, give the money back and start listening to the scientists when drafting climate policy, or you will be consigned to the opposition benches, as I hope you will be, and the Greens will work with the new government to deliver decent climate action.