PARLIAMENT PUT ON NOTICE ON CLIMATE INACTION

Today, Abigail put Labor and the Coalition on notice over their failure to respond to the climate crisis with appropriate urgency, moving a motion that recognised the findings of the latest IPCC report of the physical science basis of climate change.

Ms Abigail Boyd: I move

1) That this House notes: 

a) the “code red for humanity” warning from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its report released on 9 August 2021, which found:

i) an irrefutable link between human activity and climate change; 

ii) immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are required to limit warming to 1.5ºC; and

iii) climate change is making extreme climate events, including heat waves, heavy rainfall, and droughts, more frequent and severe;

b) the Minister for Energy and Environment was reported in September 2021 as having acknowledged that NSW could “absolutely” meet the call by the United Nations to completely stop using coal-fired power by 2030; 

c) the NSW Government has announced a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and a target of reducing emissions by 50 percent of 2005 levels by 2030; 

d) since 3 September 2021, three new coal mine projects have been approved in NSW, which grants approval for almost 14 million metric tonnes per annum of additional coal extraction; and

e) the NSW Government’s plans to open up even more areas of NSW for coal extraction, including eight new coal zones near Rylstone on the edge of the World Heritage Wollemi National Park.

2) That this House calls on the Government to:

a) acknowledge that it is inconsistent with the latest IPCC science on limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees celsius, as well as with its own emissions-reduction targets, to continue to permit new thermal coal mining projects in NSW;

b) commit to stop using coal-fired power in the State’s energy mix and completely decarbonise the State’s electricity system by 2030 at the latest;

c) take responsibility for the emissions of coal extracted in NSW and burnt overseas;

d) prevent the proliferation of coal, oil and gas by immediately and permanently ending all exploration and new production to protect workers, communities and investments from becoming stranded and to avoid locking the world into catastrophic and irreversible climate disaster;

e) proactively support communities that have traditionally been economically reliant on fossil fuel industries by delivering a just and planned transition designed by and for community members, workers and their unions, so that no worker has to suffer the anxiety and financial insecurity that comes from losing their job; and

f) ensure the continued presence of key services such as TAFE and education, postal, banking and telecommunications services in communities affected by the industrial and economic restructuring necessary to meet our emissions reductions requirements.

 

On the 9th of August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the first part of its sixth assessment report entitled Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. The report constitutes the most comprehensive, up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, and is testament to the rigour and professionalism of the hundreds of expert scientists who contributed to the report.

A landmark moment in the history of global warming, the report itself provides little new revelations, but rather strengthens the evidence to confirm much of what we already knew. 

There is an irrefutable link between human activity and global warming.

Emissions are still rising.

The planet continues to heat.

Climate change is making extreme climate events, including heat waves, heavy rainfall, and droughts, more frequent and more severe.

Humanity continues to inflict terrible wounds on our shared planet.

The findings themselves haven’t changed much. 

What has changed, however, is the brand and style of the approach by bad faith actors in our society who seek to extract as much profit from our earth as possible at the expense of our future.

The science of climate change is undeniable. Confronted with this reality, the climate denialists have transformed.

The new climate denialism pays lip-service to the science, begrudgingly accepting that ‘climate change exists’ before promptly throwing every conceivable obstacle, equivocation or proviso in the way of any attempt to make the transformative change necessary to save our planet.

The science is clear. Immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are required to limit warming to prevent the most catastrophic outcomes.

To question the economics of climate action is to deny the science.

To wait for the market to decide is to deny the science.

To allow new thermal coal mining operations is certainly to deny the science.

To do anything other than legislating a moratorium on the proliferation of new coal, oil and gas is to deny the science.

In September of this year, the Minister for Energy and Environment (now also the Treasurer) proclaimed that NSW could “absolutely” meet the call to end the use of coal-fired power by 2030. The NSW Liberal-National Government then announced more ambitious emissions reductions targets.

And yet, since the 3rd of September of this year, three new coal mine projects have been green-lit in NSW.

This inconsistency highlights that the barriers to achieving the deep decarbonisation of our economy are not technical and economic feasibility. The barriers are social, cultural and political.

Coal communities have provided the vast majority of this state’s electricity needs for 200 years. Through the power and energy of their unions, the pay and conditions of these workers’ jobs rose, and with them grew the vitality of their local towns and communities.

Now, due to technological advancements and environmental imperative, the decarbonisation of our economy is required, inevitable, and desirable. Employment in these fossil fuel industries has been shrinking already, and too many of the workers who remain are on temporary or labour hire contracts.

The change is inevitable. The variable is what form this change takes. 

Governments have a responsibility to shape change. Every day that the Liberal-National government wastes refusing to develop a transition plan that is just and fair, is another day stolen from historic coal communities, setting them back rather than propelling us all forward into a future of high quality industrial and energy-generating blue-collar jobs.

We need to proactively support communities that have traditionally been economically reliant on fossil fuel industries by delivering a transition that is designed and planned by and for community members, workers and their unions, with justice and fairness at its foundation, so that no worker has to suffer the anxiety and financial insecurity that comes from losing their job.

This means planning for and delivering a job-for-job transition guarantee for those who want it, and ensuring the continued presence of key services such as TAFE and public education, postal, banking and telecommunications services in communities affected by the industrial and economic restructuring necessary to meet our emissions reductions requirements.

Anything less than a comprehensively funded and consultative transition plan is a betrayal of the hardwork and contribution these coal communities have played and can continue to play into our future.

The IPCC report made it painfully clear. Real climate change action means doing things differently, and that includes not leaving workers to the mercy of the markets. A complete decarbonisation of our economy provides us with a once in a generation opportunity to reclaim our communities from the whims and temperament of capital, and rebuild in a way that responds to the needs and wellbeing of the people.

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