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IPCC Report & emissions data: Australia could lose it all

Media Release
Adam Bandt 1 Mar 2022

Greens Leader, Adam Bandt, has responded to the IPCC report on climate impacts and adaptation released overnight as well as the latest Australian emissions data, slamming Liberal and Labor for their commitment to 114 new coal and gas projects.

The report makes clear that climate impacts are already “widespread” and, in some cases, “irreversible.” Heat-related human mortality is rising; extreme weather events and temperatures have exposed millions of people to food insecurity. Agriculture, tourism and other climate-sensitive sectors are being damaged. Fisheries are in decline. Migration tied to climate shifts is increasing.

The report has been released while the north east of Australia has been hit by record level catastrophic flooding exacerbated by global warming.

The IPCC specifically identified nine key risks for Australia:

  • Loss and degradation of coral reefs and associated biodiversity and ecosystem service values in Australia due to ocean warming and marine heatwaves (very high confidence) 
  • Loss of alpine biodiversity in Australia due to less snow (high confidence)
  • Transition or collapse of alpine ash, snowgum woodland, pencil pine and northern jarrah forests in southern Australia due to hotter and drier conditions with more fires (high confidence) 
  • Loss of kelp forests in southern Australia and southeast New Zealand due to ocean warming, marine heatwaves and overgrazing by climate-driven range extensions of herbivore fish and urchins (high confidence) 
  • Loss of natural and human systems in low-lying coastal areas due to sea-level rise (high confidence) 
  • Disruption and decline in agricultural production and increased stress in rural communities in south-western, southern and eastern mainland Australia due to hotter and drier conditions (high confidence) 
  • Increase in heat-related mortality and morbidity for people and wildlife in Australia due to heatwaves (high confidence)
  • Cascading, compounding and aggregate impacts on cities, settlements, infrastructure, supply-chains and services due to wildfires, floods, droughts, heatwaves, storms and sea-level rise (high confidence)
  • Inability of institutions and governance systems to manage climate risks (high confidence).

Quarterly Greenhouse Gas Accounts

Most concerningly, today’s release of the September 2021 quarterly greenhouse gas accounts show that Australia is not on track to meet its own target of net-zero by 2050, let alone the 2035 trajectory required by the science to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C and protect communities from the worst impacts of climate change

At the current rate of annual emissions reduction (0.8%), Australia is instead on track to hit net-zero in 2146 - a recipe for the worst case scenarios outlined in the IPCC’s warning.

While the continued reduction in coal-fired power generation has seen electricity emissions go down, increased LNG production and the lift in transport and agriculture emissions following the end of COVID lockdowns and drought has meant that emission reductions are not on pace to limit climate catastrophe.

The next election is likely to result in a minority Parliament, and in balance of power the Greens will kick the Liberals out and push the next government for a moratorium on new coal and gas mines.

Quotes attributable to Greens leader, Adam Bandt MP:

“This report leaves no room for argument. If we want to stop dangerous climate change, we need to keep coal and gas in the ground.

“More coal and gas means worse floods and more deaths.

“After this report, Liberal and Labor must abandon their plans to open 114 new coal and gas mines, because at this rate Australia won’t hit net zero until 2146 and we’ll lose the climate fight. 

“The climate crisis is happening now, we’re not on track to meet our climate targets and Liberal and Labor are putting lives at risk by backing more coal and gas. 

“Delay is the new denial, we can’t wait until 2050, and anything less than a rapid phase out of coal and gas means giving up on the 1.5 degrees goal in the Paris Agreement.”

“Australia has everything to lose. Our natural wonders, from the reefs to our alpine areas, will go. We’ll be ravaged by storms and fires, we’ll lose rivers and harvests, and people will die unless we keep coal and gas in the ground.”

“We need to kick the Liberals out and put Greens in balance of power to push Labor to stop opening new coal and gas or this ‘atlas of human suffering’ will become a reality.”
 

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