Jan 25, 2005

Climate crisis in 10 years


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 25 January 2005

The world has less than a decade to avert catastrophic climate change, with widespread droughts, crop failures, rising sea levels, water shortages and even irreversible damage to the Great Barrier Reef and Amazon rainforest the likely result.

This is the conclusion of a report released today by the International Climate Change Taskforce – a group of senior politicians, business leaders and scientists from the United States, Britain and Australia. It is expected British Prime Minister Tony Blair will take the Taskforce’s recommendations to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 26 January.

If nothing else, this report from such a respected and bipartisan group of individuals should shake the Howard Government out of their irresponsible complacency.

Climate change is happening and responsible governments are working together to minimise its impact on our economy and environment.

Australians can see the impact climate change is already having: many of our major cities and towns are experiencing severe and prolonged water shortages; up to 75% of the red gums on the Murray River flood plains are sick or dying; and coral bleaching has damaged significant parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

The ultimate impact of global warming will be determined by the action we take today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the primary cause of climate change.

Unfortunately, Australia’s performance at reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been appalling. Emissions from the energy sector are projected to rise by 40-50% over 1990 levels by 2010 and in the transport sector by 60-70% over 1990 levels.

The Howard Government’s refusal to show leadership at home or be part of international efforts to combat climate change is not only bad environmental policy, but also bad for the Australian economy.

By not being part of the Kyoto Protocol – due to come into force on 16 February 2005 – Australian businesses are denied access to a multi-billion dollar carbon emissions trading scheme and the opportunity to participate in the development of alternative energy technology.

Climate change threatens our health, our economy, our natural resources and our children’s future. Delaying action for a decade, or even just years, is no longer an option.