Government Cops out of COP26 Responsibilities

Today Abigail spoke on the upcoming COP26 and the pressing need for NSW to cut out coal and transition to a clean, green, safe and sustainable renewable future. 

Abigail said:

In the lead-up to the Twenty-sixth United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, known as COP26, the Australia Institute's Climate and Energy Program released its annualClimate of the Nation 2020 benchmark report tracking Australian attitudes on climate change. An all-time high of 75 per cent of Australians are concerned about climate change and seven in 10 think Australia should set targets and implement domestic action to limit global warming to 1.5 to two degrees Celsius. The Murdoch press appears to have read the room and this week performed a remarkably athletic backflip on its climate change position, kicked off with a 16-page spread across all of its mastheads other thanThe Australian.

What has happened? Has the war drum of unrepentant climate change denialism that has set the marching beat for a generation of politicians and commentators finally fallen silent? Of course not. The new climate denialists are no fools, and they can read polling data as well as anyone. They have simply wrapped themselves in a 16-page disguise, littered generously with billionaires, mining executives and uncritical reports of greenwashing campaigns from some of this country's most prolific emitters.

Speaking of dangerous and prolific emitters, as much as it pains me to say it, Andrew Bolt was right when he said that the editorial campaign is rubbish and designed simply to provide political cover for Scott Morrison as he fumbles his way to a flimsy emissions reduction target for 30 years in the future. The truth of the matter is a jobs rich, clean energy future in New South Wales is not just possible, it is inevitable. Renewable energy generation from solar and wind is now the cheapest form of energy on the market and the cheapest form of energy in the history of industrialised humanity. From the same Australia Institute report, 63 per cent of Australians said they prefer investment in renewables as a pathway for economic recovery. Cue the nuclear brigade.

We have been treated to a renewed flurry of articles espousing in the eradiated glow of the promised land of a renewed nuclear industry in Australia. Uranium mining is environmentally destructive, extremely water intensive, produces radio active waste that cannot be disposed of safely and leaves mine sites that are impossible to effectively remediate. Nuclear power is slow to react to changes in supply and demand and so works poorly with solar and wind—the technologies that the public are actually demanding. Nuclear power also produces climate-damaging emissions: mining, processing, plant building, storage and waste disposal all produce huge quantities of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

Thankfully, for 30 years we have had a ban on uranium mining in New South Wales and Federal laws currently do not allow nuclear power in Australia, but that could all change very quickly. Before this House is a bill to repeal the ban on uranium mining that has stood for the past 30 years. This week the Treasurer, and Minister for Energy and Environment, expressed his excitement about the potential for nuclear reactors in our energy system.

The Murdoch media is doing what it does best and whipping up a fervour for a destructive and dying industry to benefit its corporate mates. Around the world countries like Germany are winding down their nuclear power programs. Why would we now try to build ours up? There is no public appetite to begin on the pathway towards a nuclear industry. The risks are too great and the potential benefit is vanishingly small. As much as the Minerals Council and its mates in the Murdoch press might hate to hear it, our future energy sources will not be reliant on the mining industry. And then there is the fact that if we want to drastically cut our emissions as soon as possible, an energy source that takes 10 years to build just does not cut it

Our State has such an exciting future ahead of it: a future without the toxic emissions from coal-fired power stations, a future with clean and green industries and energy generation revitalising regional towns and communities, and a more comfortable and prosperous future. Why would we jeopardise that future by taking decisions now to continue to enrich those corporations and industries that have already proven themselves undeserving of their social licence. So to the cynical operators at the Murdoch press, we see you. We see what you are doing and you are not fooling anyone. Get on board with a real ambitious and legislated 2030 target, powered by renewables, and a moratorium on new coal, gas and oil projects or get out of the way, because the people of this State will not be buying a drop of your radioactive snake oil.


The full transcript can be found in Hansard, here.

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