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UN Climate Change Conference

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 28 October 2021

Tags: Climate Change

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I move -

That the House take note of the following matter: the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

In three days time there will be probably the most important meeting in the planet's history taking place. That will be in Glasgow, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

Paris 2015 at the COP20 set the goal for the world to do everything we can to take action on climate change. It set the standard of where we need to be. Now we know that the world has failed to reach it; we have failed to meet the targets that we needed for keeping the world, the climate temperature, under the 1.5 degrees we know is the maximum warming to sustain life on Earth. Glasgow now represents our chance.

We have a 2.7 degrees Celsius temperature forecast on our current climate action plan. That is a massive fail. It is a code red for humanity. There is no doubt that we have to do everything possible, otherwise we stand on the brink of failure. This COP26 brings us to the edge of the precipice for holding back global warming to levels that could support life in Earth. Unless we take the action that scientists have told us, we will be risking world conflict and chaos if the summit fails.

These are not the words of raving loonies, Mr Speaker; these are the words of the UN's top climate official. There is no doubt that global security and stability could break down. There would be migration crises around the world and food shortages, bringing conflict and chaos that nowhere on the planet would be immune from. We cannot be immune. That is the point.

What we have seen so far in Australia makes it very clear that we are observing the impacts of rapid global heating. We have a warmed average temperature on Australian land mass of 1.44 degrees. We are warming faster than other places on the planet.

In Tasmania, the east coast of Tasmania has one of the fastest warming waters on the planet. In 2016, we had a 130 day long marine heatwave, the longest ever recorded off the east coast of Tasmania. At its peak, in January 2016, it was 4.5 degrees above the average. That has never been recorded in Tasmania. It had never been recorded on the planet.

We have truly eye watering records being set, not just on an annual basis but on a daily, weekly and monthly basis in Australia and around the world. What we saw from the horrific bushfires that swept across the Australia eastern states in the summer of 2019 20 was mass destruction on a truly apocalyptic scale. We saw firefighters standing with their own bodies the only thing between them and towering, crescendo clouds of smoke, of fire hailstorms coming out of the air. We have seen new forms of energy being produced by the rapidly heating climate that we have never seen before - truly frightening for anybody who does the work of standing on the front line to protect communities and the places we love from intense bushfires.

In 2019, an estimated three billion animals perished in those fires: 123 million mammals, 2.5 billion reptiles and 181 million birds. There is a huge threat hanging over the head of critically endangered species in eastern Australia. We still do not know where that is going to land. We are still trying to count the cost.

We are still trying to count the cost for the 34 deaths, for the 2800 families who lost their homes, for the millions who were exposed to smoke, and the ongoing mental trauma, PTSD, anxiety and depression of people who fought fires and people who lived through them.

We have seen the incredible need to take urgent action on climate change. The IPCC is abundantly clear in their most recent report, the IPCC 6, that action must be swift.

In Tasmania we are seeing a failure of this Government to do the things that can be done. That is what we have to do. It is incumbent on every leader to take every action we can.

We know from the excellent work of the 24 academic contributors from the University of Tasmania, there can be a blueprint for a climate positive Tasmania that reduces emissions by 50 per cent by 2030. That is what the science demands and what we must do to protect our children. We already have the capacity to do this. We have an abundance of evidence to draw from and we have fantastic blueprints for how we can make the changes that we need. It only requires some will. We have children who tell us to put it at the top of the list; they want climate action.

The Commissioner for Children and Young People's ambassadors also were very clear that we have to ban native forest harvesting and end the sawlog quota, 137 000 cubic metres a year. That must stop. It is madness to be chopping down our carbon stores; madness to be ridding ourselves of the desperately needed habitat, nesting and flowering places for our critically endangered plants and animals.

The last word is with the people. The people are fighting back. We have had the schools strike for climate, we have the hunger strikers from the Extinction Rebellion outside Parliament House and we have had massive litigation cases all around the world that are taking off. People will not be silenced. Governments have to take action.