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UN Climate Change Conference

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 28 October 2021

Tags: Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, we brought on this Matter of Public Importance debate because, as Dr Woodruff said, the meeting of world leaders in Glasgow will be the most momentous meeting in human history. The decisions and declarations made in Glasgow will decide the future of life on Earth. We recognise that the Tasmanian parliament needs to have this debate. We did not get the opportunity earlier in the week through Labor's MPIs. We had an MPI on road maintenance yesterday, of all things.

I digress but I point out to the House, just in case anyone has forgotten, that the Albanese federal Labor Party is 100 per cent behind the coal and gas industry. It still takes hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the fossil fuel industry and, of course, Labor at a federal and state level still supports native forest logging.

We are equal opportunity debaters in here, Mr Speaker, and we will treat the hypocrites in the old parties exactly the same way. Labor does not have a leg to stand on with climate. They have not expressed any pride at all in the fact that we are net zero because of the forest set aside under the Tasmanian forest agreement and the work of conservationists to protect forests over decades.

We know, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that we are in a code red for humanity. Right now, we are on track to reach 2.7 degrees of warming by the end of the century. We know we have to cut emissions by 55 per cent by 2030. We will see substantial warming on this planet within our children's lifetime, within your grandchildren's lifetime, Mr Speaker. That is why we believe this parliament needs to have a much stronger and clearer focus on how we reduce our emissions.

I take the minister's point about setting a net zero target for 2030 but we have reached it due to our forests and our investment in hydro electricity over a very long time. You can see, through the greenhouse accounts, that emissions are rising in the transport and agriculture sectors. We are seeing emissions rising across multiple sectors. I accept what the minister says about the challenge of maintaining that net zero emissions target by 2030. But if you are not setting sectoral targets and working very closely with those sectors to help them reduce their emissions, it becomes very difficult to make sure that emissions are going down in those sectors.

Mr Speaker, we have the Prime Minister and the minister for fossil fuel energy, Angus Taylor heading over to Glasgow. Let us be clear about this; they are going over there with no new policies, with a plan that effectively relies on offsets and the mirage of carbon capture and storage.

We have a prime minister going to Glasgow who will be a national embarrassment on the international stage. Nothing that this Morrison government has done takes climate seriously; in fact, quite the reverse. We have recently had three new coal mines approved by the federal Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley. This is after the federal court found that the minister has a duty of care towards Australia's children. Despite that judgement from the federal court, she has since then approved three new coal mines.

That approach points to a government that does not care about our children and our grandchildren's future. It does not care that we are currently the world's leading exporter of coal. It does not care enough to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and say, 'No, we are going to take meaningful action on climate'. In fact, what the Morrison government cares about most is power and money. This is what this is about. All that fake drama between the Liberals and the Nationals over the 2050 target was just that. It was all for show so that the Morrison government could look like, at some level, it was standing firm on something to do with climate change. At this federal election they will be going much more after the vote of climate deniers than they will be of people who recognise the need to act. That is the cold, hard, political reality of it.

I hope that on this issue of climate, this small parliament on this beautiful island can find a way to work together. One of the most important things that we can do - everyone in here knows it to be true - is keep the carbon that is in the ground in the ground to protect our native forests, to restore degraded landscapes and start farming carbon in earnest and being a beacon to the world of sustainability and prosperity in a very difficult century.