Jul 26, 2005

Climate Change Risks Require Action Now

Climate Change Risks Require Action Now

MEDIA RELEASE – Anthony Albanese MP

26 July 2005

The Howard Government’s climate change complacency will be starkly demonstrated today with the release of a new report on Climate Change Risks and Vulnerability.

The Federal Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, has finally admitted the obvious: climate change is occurring now, and it will have a profound impact on the Australian economy, on our water systems and on our natural environment.

Speaking on AM, Ian Campbell listed the stark effects of climate change: more storms, more floods, more cyclones, vulnerable reef systems.

Having stated the obvious, it is extraordinary he then failed to offer any solutions.

He talked about international action, but Australia has rejected the Kyoto Protocol – the only international instrument to tackle climate change.

He then failed to tell us what domestic action the Howard Government would take.

That’s not surprising. The Howard Government’s complacency over nine long years has left Australia ill-prepared for the impact of climate change.

With our long coast lines, significant agricultural sector and unique plants and animals, we are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The Great Barrier Reef – visited by more than a million people each year – could be one of the first victims of climate change. Coral bleaching and diseases could result in the complete collapse of the Reef in as little as 20 years. That would have a profound impact on northern Queensland’s economy and heritage.

The Howard Government’s climate change complacency has also meant we are missing out on the job and export opportunities of the new economy – emissions trading, clean energy, energy efficiency.

Instead of action, we have complacency. Australia is on target to increase its greenhouse pollution by 23% by 2020.

Instead of complacency, Australia needs action and it needs it now. The Howard Government should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, establish a national emissions trading scheme and set a strong renewable energy target.