THURSDAY, 16 JANUARY 2020
MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: This morning we received advice from the World Meteorological Organisation that 2019 was officially the second hottest year on record at a global level. It is now one of the six hottest years, the other five being 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014. There is a very clear trend here. 2019 was also the hottest year on record at a global level without an El Nino event impacting the weather across the world. We already knew, before this advice from the WMO, that Australia has gone through its hottest and driest year on record. All of this is driven by climate change, which is in turn driven by human activity. The terrible fire emergencies that we have been experiencing and the drought that Australia has experienced over the last several years we know, from scientific advice, are a product of climate change.
In the face of all of that advice, from our world-renowned scientists at the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Academy of Science, and elsewhere, this Government has sat on its hands and done nothing on climate change.
That is why in December Australia was ranked dead last, out of 57 nations, on climate policy. Below Saudi Arabia, below Donald Trump’s America and other nations that are regarded as laggards on climate change.
That is also why no emissions reduction has occurred during more than six years of government by the Liberal Party, although emissions were able to be reduced by almost 15 per cent during the same period of time under the last Labor government. It is why you’ve seen a collapse of 60 per cent in investment in renewable energy last year, because there is no policy to support the transition to clean energy. It is also why Scott Morrison abolished all of the funding to the research body that was set up to keep Australians safe from the impacts of climate change and help Australians adapt to those climate impacts.
On Sunday, we saw a brief opening of the door by Scott Morrison on potentially taking different action on climate change because maybe he now understands that Australians get it - that we need different action on climate change. But Prime Minister Morrison himself closed that door within only a few hours, that same afternoon. From reports this morning, it is now clear why he did that. On the front page of The Australian, a Cabinet Minister no less, has warned the Prime Minister that any additional action on climate change would, to use the words of that Cabinet Minister, “blow the place up.”
When Australians need a wholesale shift from their government on climate change, what we see instead, yet again, as we have for the last decade, is a Liberal Party paralysed by internal division, by ideology, and by a veto wielded by the hard right of the Coalition party room. Australians deserve better.
JOURNALIST: What is your message to Scott Morrison given the crisis we are currently facing? What really needs to be done to act on climate change?
BUTLER: Beyond the management of this particular emergency - and other people within the Labor Party are dealing with that – it is absolutely clear that we need more action on climate change. The Australian Academy of Science only said that this week. We need to increase our action on climate change to be part of the global effort to keep this generation safe and to keep future generations safe from even worse emergencies that we will see if average temperatures continue to climb.
JOURNALIST: What would be your immediate solution for some of those policies to be enacted?
BUTLER: Any policy would help. What we have is a Government that has no policy in the energy sector, which is why you’ve seen a collapse of renewable energy investment to the tune of 60 per cent last year alone. There is no policy in the transport sector. There is no control on the high polluting industries which are producing significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. The Government needs to recognise the challenge, and take advice from the scientists and experts who have been telling us for years these sorts of events would emerge if we didn’t take action on climate change.
Thanks very much.