Published: 12/08/2021
Category: On The Job
Published: 12/08/2021
Category: On The Job

There is no time to waste.

That is the clear and unequivocal message that rang out like a distress signal from the latest science report by the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which found that the last ten years have been hotter than any other period in the past 125,000 years.

The exhaustive report is the culmination of five years of intense research, assessment, peer review and approval processes from 234 of the world’s leading climate scientists drawn for over 60 countries.

The news for Australia was ominous finding that the country had already experienced 1.4 °C warming above pre-industrial levels, and that we face the certain prospect of more frequent and intense bushfires and weather events and rainfall fluctuations that will play havoc with the continent’s environmental stability and economic viability.

With the climate doomsday clock now just minutes from midnight, it’s clear that Australia needs to take bold and urgent action to position the Australian economy for the world’s transition to net zero emissions and support workers and communities affected by that transition, according to ACTU President, Michele O’Neil.

“Workers are already on the frontline dealing with the impacts of climate change, be it through protecting and rebuilding communities affected by natural disasters, caring for those affected by heatwaves and bushfire smoke, or working in increasingly extreme weather,” O’Neil said.

The ACTU President was scathing about the false binary choice between technology and taxes set by Scott Morrison when it comes to Australia’s response to the climate emergency.

“The Prime Minister’s hollow rhetoric about technology not taxes does not disguise the Coalition’s failure to act on global warming and failure to plan for a low carbon economy. The Coalition’s emissions targets are unscientific and if replicated by others would doom humanity to runaway global warming,” said O’Neil.

“Australian workers know that it’s in our best interests to move quickly to net zero emissions and that we can develop renewable energy powered export industries to help the world limit global warming.

“The argument that we must choose between jobs and climate action is another Coalition delay tactic. We can and must have good union jobs and a safe climate.”

Richard Merzian is the Climate and Energy Program Director at the independent think tank the Australia Institute. He told ‘On the Job’ that Scott Morrison’s claims that Australia would meet a net zero emissions reductions target for 2050 is not backed by the one thing the Prime Minister struggles with more than anything – the facts.

“Just this week, the Australia Institute released a paper that showed that Australia is actually at the back of the OECD when it comes to transitioning its energy (base). When it comes to electricity, transport, heating, Australia is at the back of the pack.

“To hear the Prime Minister just fob [the IPCC Report] off and point the finger at China shows a lack of real leadership.”

The Australia Institute’s Richard Merzian says Australia is at the ‘back of the pack’ when it comes to an energy transition

Merzian said that the lack of political will to enact a genuine energy transition strategy shown by the Morrison Government was leaving some low hanging fruit unharvested which would be both good for the environment and for job creation.

“The opportunities exist. We could put better standards on the quality of the cars that we import, on the emissions that we allow them to emit,” Merzian explained.

“We could actually look at how we can incentivise electric vehicles so we can bring in more affordable models that would make it accessible to the average punter to have an EV, not just those who can afford a Tesla.

“We could be manufacturing batteries for our houses, right here, batteries for electric vehicles, because Australia is one of the very few countries in the world where you can find most of those rare earth minerals.

“Poland is also massively big on coal for its power sector. So, what is it doing? It’s going into battery manufacturing because there’s demand in Europe, and it’s well positioned to do so.”

Merzian sees a window of genuine opportunity for Australia to take advantage of its natural assets to remodel its economy to be both prosperous and environmentally sustainable. The clock is running, but it’s not too late.

“Look at those big projects in Western Australia and the Northern Territory with huge potential like hydrogen plants being built that are using water and electrolysis and producing clean energy, as well as giant solar and wind farms,” Merzian said.

“These are exciting times and Australia can become a winner or it can stick its head in the ground and hope things don’t change and ultimately lose out.”

Michele O’Neil agrees, warning that to continue to ignore the science is reckless.

“We must heed the scientists’ warning and act urgently to restore a safe climate. The human cost of inaction on climate change is growing daily – our food production, ability to live and work, and personal safety will be completely disrupted if warming continues. The IPCC report shows us that we are running out of time.”

We’re calling on the Government to get serious about global warming. Will you add your voice to ours?

Time to act as climate clock nears midnight

Time to act as climate clock nears midnight