Simon Stiell: 'Two years to save the world'

 (Image credit: Kevin Siers | Copyright 2018 Cagle Cartoons)

Recent reports suggested what the Leader of the Opposition may be planning as regards Climate policy. It is deeply depressing because it is so out of touch with reality.

"Two years to save the world ....

This was  the haunting title of a recent speech by UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, at Chatham House in London.

He speaks with knowledge, hoping to inspire faster action.

The science is clear, as the latest IPCC report makes plain.

We are now seeing what has been predicted. Simon Stiell speaks of “record-shattering heat and massive damage to economies.”

Simon makes the point that, while “a recent survey of 130,000 people in 125 countries found that 89% want stronger climate action by governments’, we are seeing signs of climate action ‘slipping down cabinet agendas.’"

Worse  is happening here in Australia.

The Leader of the Opposition wants to push climate action up the agenda so as to take us backwards and away from what is morally responsible and basic common sense.

Ideally we would have  a National Cabinet to deal with this Climate Emergency, much as was shaped in response to the pandemic in recent years.

At that time, the normally combative, party-aligned collection of political leaders rose to the need for cooperative action for the sake of the nation. Experts were in the room and were listened to.

Our State and Federal political leaders kept up their normal pattern of behaviour over other issues.

But it was such a relief that there was this co-operation. As with the Climate Emergency now, we knew things were grim because of the unexpected pandemic and we didn’t know what life would be like if it got any worse. We didn’t really know what we were dealing with.

But the idea of a National Cabinet is now in "fantasy land" after today’s announcements from the Leader of the Opposition.

It is a huge generational challenge to make this transition out of fossil fuels fast enough.

We need the highest quality of cooperation but we are not going to get it.

This week and next, the UNFCCC community, including Australia’s team of negotiators and diplomats are in Bonn for SB 60, the sessions between UNCOP28 in Dubai and the next UNCOP29 in Azerbaiijan.

Interfaith friends are there doing their best. See https://unfccc.int/sb60

At a late May briefing, offered by staff from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (D.C.C.E.E.W), it was evident that there are many complex technical and political issues that must be resolved if the Paris Agreement is to be implemented in a timely fashion.

The commitment and competency of these young Australians shone through, as I listened.

If a National Cabinet was in place, they could be reporting to it on their return so as to help ensure Australia’s political leaders are informed and able to ensure we are making our best contribution, as global citizens. 

Two years to save the world” and a Federal Election due in a year!

But sadly, we can already see the outline of the conflicted way climate issues will be treated during the Election campaign – conflict over the transition to renewables; over nuclear energy; and even, as we see today, over the need for the international rules-based consensus of a Paris Agreement.

We must insist on a cooperative political response to the Climate Emergency. It’s both possible and necessary.

We must keep advocating for an Australia which has a clear path to net zero emissions asap. An Australia which has zero intolerance for any further loss of creation, of species uniquely here, of our biodiversity.

The targets to which many are working are stretching, including the plan to go from 30% to 82% renewables by 2030.

There is already so much cooperative effort taking place.

But we  need a Federal Parliament that facilitates this and doesn’t make it even more complicated! 


8 June 2024