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Adjournment - United Nations Climate Action Summit

24 September 2019

 

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I am standing here tonight to give a science bulletin to the Premier of Tasmania, Will Hodgman, who is clearly, wilfully deaf to the state of the climate catastrophe that we are hovering on the brink of as a planet. Or else he is wilfully, actively ignorant to the information that is being provided by every climate scientist on the planet. He must be wilfully deaf or ignorant because I choose, like Greta Thunberg, not to believe that our Premier is an evil man. Therefore, only wilful deafness or active ignorance are the reasons for why he is refusing to take meaningful action in Tasmania to protect us all.

The much-anticipated UN Climate Action Summit started yesterday in New York and it was attended by more than 60 world leaders. To Australia's eternal shame, it will be marked in our history books and noted by generations to come, that our Prime Minister was in that country and boycotted the summit. He was not there to be part of a critical collective effort to take action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

The people who were there heard from a science advisory group, a collaboration of the world's leading science organisations, who presented a report about the gaps between our targets, our global target to tackle global heating and the reality of what is actually happening. They have told us that average global temperatures in the last four years were on track to be the hottest of any five years in earth's recorded history. Global temperatures have already risen by 1.1 degree since 1850 and they have gone up 0.2 degrees in the years 2011 to 2015. Instead of falling, carbon dioxide levels grew by 2 per cent last year. They are now at 37 billion tonnes, locking in further warming. In just the last four years, emissions have grown by 20 per cent compared to the previous five years before that.

Ms O'Connor - It is horrifying.

Dr WOODRUFF - Yes, it is horrifying. The alarming new data on the extent of sea level rise shows that it has grown by 5 millimetres a year in the last five years, compared to 3 millimetres a year in the average period since 1993. The Arctic summer ice sheet has declined at a rate of 12 per cent a decade over the last 40 years, the lowest values were in the last four years. We are already seeing the tragic effect in countries around the world with sea levels rising, intense tropical storms, economic and humanitarian catastrophes in places like the Bahamas and Mozambique.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said the world is losing the race on climate change. He said, 'there is a serious conflict between people and the planet'. One of the young climate activists that the Secretary-General spoke to was Greta Thunberg, the young woman who has been the point of energy, the flagstaff for all of the global climate strike movement, for all the children on the planet who have come together in their millions and millions. Last Friday on a global strike in Tasmania we ourselves had young and old people from across Tasmania turning out in their tens of thousands. Greta Thunberg made a speech to the UN Summit yesterday, to the global climate leaders who were there and she said: (TBC)

People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?

For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying you are doing enough when the politics and solutions are still nowhere in sight. The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50 per cent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control. Fifty per cent may be acceptable to you, but those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice.

Fifty per cent risk is simply not acceptable to us, the children. We who have to live with the consequences. How dare you pretend this can be solved with just business as usual and some technical solutions?

You are failing us, but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. If you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you.

Long may we hold the words of Greta Thunberg with us. She who inspires not just the people she spoke to that day, but the emotion speaks from the heart of every young person on the planet who is already experiencing the impact of climate warming, who is already experiencing the reality that the future hopes and dreams that they were looking forward to are being crushed by a catastrophic rate of change.

Where was our Premier at the climate strike? Where were the members of this Liberal Government? Where were they to hear the young people on our street? Why was our Prime Minister with the worst climate criminal on the planet, Donald Trump, and meeting with Liberal corporate donor, Pratt Industries. That is how he chose to spend the day meeting with -

Ms O'Connor - He's corrupt.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is corruption. It is criminal that he turned his back on Greta Thunberg and all the other world leaders coming together to look at how we can reduce our emissions. Instead he talked to his cosy Liberal donor, $200 000 in 2017 that man gave to this party to make sure that the Liberal Government - state and federal - does nothing on climate change, holds back the rate of change. The children of Tasmania will not let that happen.