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Climate Change - Climate Emergency Declaration

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 6 September 2021

Tags: Climate Change, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, last week there was a who's who of sporting men and women in Australia, spearheaded by the former Wallabies captain, David Pocock, who have taken out full page advertisements and launched a campaigned called The Cool Down. They say:

Dear Australia,

We are a sporting nation. We play sport, we watch sport, we love sport.

But the climate crisis and Australia’s intensifying extreme weather is threatening the sports and the country.

Mr Pocock said:

The people and places we love, as well as the sports we love so much are threatened by climate change. Sport's future is more uncertain than ever.

Last week we moved to declare a climate emergency and you accused the Greens of scaring children. Mr Tucker said we were brainwashing them. Do you accept that you are on the wrong side of history on this and our sportspeople are standing up and using far more emotional and hyperbolic language than we did in our motion and that children want leadership and declaring a climate emergency is the right thing to do?

Mr GUTWEIN - I read the summary report for policy-makers the IPCC released. I also read significant parts of the broader report last week. It was interesting that none of the scientists were claiming that we had a climate emergency. The broader report is hundreds of pages. If you'd bothered to look at it yourself, you'd recognise that there is only one mention of a climate emergency in that report, which they point to the media having raised, and they mention climate emergency, climate crisis and there was one other term that was front and centre in there.

Now, that's in the actual report. The scientists aren't making that claim in the IPCC report because I looked for it and I couldn't find it. If I read Hansard, the question that was asked of me in parliament the week before was framed in terms that the scientists are declaring a climate emergency. I'd need to check that; but I think that was the way that that question came to me.

Dr WOODRUFF - That's not correct.

Mr GUTWEIN - But I'm not sure if you're aware that in fact, in those two reports - the summary report, and also the broader report - the policy makers and the scientists aren't claiming that. The only mention of climate emergency is based on media coverage. I think the language that you use does frighten kids. It does raise their levels of anxiety. We should talking to our children about the very strong position that we currently have and importantly, the fact that we can be a world leader. We should be proud of that. Unfortunately, you don't do that.

Dr WOODRUFF - At the moment we're operating under emergency COVID-19 orders and 'emergency' is a term that governments use to respond to a crisis. We don't have to get every particular word given to us from the IPCC. It's pretty clear that what you're trying to suggest is that talking about the way things are about the climate crisis is scaring children. However, do you accept that's exactly what sporting leaders are doing - they're using terms like 'jeopardising the future of sport'; and also 'sport as we know it is more uncertain than ever'. Surely that's extreme language.

CHAIR - Order, Dr Woodruff. Once you've asked a question don't try to speak over the top of the minister.

Dr WOODRUFF - Excuse me, I hadn't finished my question but the minister was jumping in and started laughing.

CHAIR - You had been speaking for well past a minute, asking three or four questions in one go.

Mr GUTWEIN - I haven't seen what Mr Pocock put out. I know that it's well understood that he has a strong view on these matters. I'm not aware of the language that's utilised but I don't -

Dr WOODRUFF - Craig Foster, Ian Chappell, Liz Ellis, Lance Franklin, Rohan Browning -

Mr GUTWEIN - I don't think that when you -

CHAIR - Order, Dr Woodruff.

Mr GUTWEIN - I don't think you mentioned climate emergency in their language.

Dr WOODRUFF - We're talking about the fact it is not scaring children to be very clear that we're in a desperate situation, it is a crisis and we need to respond appropriately.

Mr GUTWEIN - But you're using Mr Pocock, and he's not using that language. Again, I make the point that we should be proud of the position that we're in. In terms of agriculture, until I became Climate Minister I wasn't aware of the very good outcomes that we were seeing in terms of growth in that sector but also a reduction in overall emissions - because a lot of the language that's used in parliament focuses on what's bad as opposed to what's good. All I'm suggesting is that we would do a better service to our children and our young people if we were prepared to inform them of the facts - and the facts are that we have a very good position in terms of our overall climate profile.

Dr WOODRUFF - Premier, in November 2019, in the journal Bioscience, on the 40th anniversary of the first World Climate Conference, more than 11 000 scientists from 153 countries signed a letter that said, amongst other things:

We declare clearly and unequivocally that Planet Earth is facing a climate emergency. To secure a sustainable future we must change how we live. This entails major transformations in the way our global society functions and interacts with natural systems.

You are wrong, Premier. Speaking of agriculture, which is what you were doing before, the independent review of the Climate Change Act, released in June this year, and the Net Zero by 2030 Emissions Pathway Review both identify that the growth of agriculture is having a detrimental effect on our emissions profile. The Agrivision 2050 Plan is specifically mentioned as a policy that will lead to more emissions.

Will you commission further research on how to bring down emissions from agriculture and how we can support primary producers to adopt less carbon intensive farming methods and introduce a target?

Mr GUTWEIN - Two things. One, and again I thought you would go hunting for any scientists that have claimed a climate crisis. The point I made, and if you refer back to the Hansard, was clearly in terms of the recent IPCC report and the climate crisis is not -

Dr WOODRUFF - You like splitting hairs when you're backed into a corner.

CHAIR - Order, Dr Woodruff.

Dr WOODRUFF - You said climate scientists didn't do it. I just told you 11 000 -

Mr GUTWEIN - In terms of the IPCC report, which you have quoted extensively, I will go back and review that question asked of me in terms of the climate crisis: the IPCC report doesn't declare a climate emergency. Nor does the advice for policy-makers that was provided by the IPCC.