Enough scandalous time-wasting on climate change. Let's get back to the facts

(The Guardian, 12 Mar 2019) Over the past 30 years I have reported so many broken climate policy promises and quoted so much rhetoric that proved to be hollow, it is difficult to trace it back to the start. I think it’s a faded press release from 11 October, 1990 headed “government sets targets for reductions in greenhouse gases”.

“The government recognises the greenhouse effect as one of the major environmental concerns facing the world,” said Ros Kelly, Bob Hawke’s environment minister. “This decision puts Australia at the forefront of international action to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases.”

We knew we had to do something almost three decades ago. Children have grown to adulthood and had their own children during the time we have known, and done not very much.

We were then, apparently, going to meet our target through “no regrets” actions – things that made sense for other environmental reasons as well as climate concerns. We didn’t meet it. We haven’t ever met any of a succession of greenhouse gas reduction targets by actually reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, which continue to rise, still. No regrets? At the forefront? If only.

1990 was the year the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report made clear predictions – of higher temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns and impacts on agriculture.

They are no longer predictions. They are our reality now. We just endured the hottest summer on record. In Port Augusta the thermometer hit 49.5 degrees. Across the country more than 200 temperature records were broken. Nine of the 10 warmest years in Australia’s records have occurred since 2005. Communities have no water. Flying foxes are dropping dead from the trees. Up to a million fish have died in the parched Murray-Darling – an ongoing environmental, social and economic catastrophe. We have been warned that without urgent action, the Darling will die. The bushfire season is starting earlier and different kinds of forests are burning, one in Tasmania stands over 1,000 years old. Flooding is more frequent and rainfall patterns are changing. Our ecosystems are being driven to collapse.

External link

The Guardian, 12 Mar 2019: Enough scandalous time-wasting on climate change. Let's get back to the facts