A new report on climate change demanding nations phase out all coal-fired power by the mid-century has resulted in heated words being used to described perceived inaction on climate change policy.
Released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the report states there would be more severe consequences if global warming rose to 2 degrees Celsius rather than restricting it to 1.5 degrees.
In order to achieve this, global net human-caused emissions of CO2 would need to fall by about 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected the United Nations-approved report, with the Sydney Morning Herald saying he has stated his government's focus would be "to ensure that electricity prices are lower" for households and businesses.
On Wednesday, Member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly used strong words to describe the Coalition government’s inaction on creating a policy for climate change.
“They are completely beholden to the coal industry and have betrayed our kids and grandkids,” he said.
“Having seen them throw up proposal after proposal, which have never made it to the Parliament, it is clear there will be no climate change or renewables policy from the Coalition.”
Dr Kelly said Eden-Monaro was “the canary in the coal mine” when it came to climate change.
“Our billion dollar ski industry, our farmers and our tourism industry all depend on consistent and reliable weather to survive and prosper,” he said.
Labor was committed to 50 per cent renewables by 2030, he said, as well as a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 on 2005 levels and net zero emissions by 2050.
But after reading the IPCC report, Liberals candidate for Eden-Monaro Fiona Kotvojs said it was important to take into account Australia’s achievements as it beat its first Kyoto target by 128million tonnes and its emissions were currently at their lowest level on a per capita and GDP basis in 28 years.
“Our Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly expressed his, and the Coalition government’s, commitment to achieving our Paris target – reducing emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030,” she said.
“Through a range of policy measures such as the Emissions Reduction Fund and safeguard mechanism, the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Snowy 2.0 and energy efficiency measures, this target can be achieved without impacting our electricity prices.”
Dr Kotvojs said it was also important to remember climate change was a global problem requiring a global solution and Australia contributed just over one per cent of emissions.
“I believe that Australia must do our part, but achieving a change requires a global solution and we must each make our own contribution to this,” she said.
READ MORE: Greens candidate for Eden-Monaro announced
The Greens candidate for Eden-Monaro Patrick McGinlay said given the credentials of the leading climate scientists who authored the report and the clear sense of urgency it imparted, it may be the report that finally gives all politicians the wake up call that is needed.
“The Greens have been aware of this and calling for action on climate change for over a decade, while the LNP leadership are still amazingly promoting more coal mines and coal fired power stations and wandering around Parliament with lump of coal in hand and having a laugh,” he said.
“It is quite clear that the scientists are telling all the governments of the world: 'We have done our bit, here are our findings… you have about a dozen years to act, and if you don't there will be dire consequences'.”
The small, black lump
One memorable moment from federal politics last year was when the then-Treasurer Mr Morrison brought a lump of coal into the House of Representatives, an act described by Dr Kelly as a “disgraceful farce”.
“It was ironic that the infamous lump of coal was laminated so as not to cover their nice suits with toxic black dust,” he said.
“The dust that has caused so much death and ill health such as through ‘Black Lung’ disease.
“They peddle this propaganda because the Liberal and National Parties are owned by big coal miners and are committed to doing their bidding.”
Dr Kelly said the Morrison government had failed time and time again to act on expert advice when it came to climate change, “paralysed by their deep internal divisions”.
“This fundamental division on climate change, which has crippled the Liberal Party’s ability to formulate any real climate policies, especially when such policy overlaps with energy,” he said.