Feb 1, 2006

Rising sea levels sink Howard Government’s credibility on climate change

Rising sea levels sink Howard Government’s credibility on climate change

MEDIA RELEASE – ANTHONY ALBANESE MP

1 February 2006

A scientific report that sea levels are rising because of climate change should be a dramatic wake up call for the Howard Government.

Modelling by respected CSIRO scientist, Neil White, detected that climate change was causing sea levels to rise at 1.7cm per year and that this was accelerating. This Report backs up yesterday’s UK scientific report, “Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change”.

Climate change is a real and present danger to Australia, yet the Howard Government just crosses its fingers and hopes it will go away.

On 6 January 2006, in response to Labor’s plan to work with our drowning Pacific neighbours to combat climate change, the Environment Minister, stated:

"I’ve spoken to the head of the Australian Greenhouse Office this morning and he said…in terms of sea level rise and its impacts on Tuvalu, in particular, but the Pacific in general…the jury is really out. Saying that we’re going to evacuate them is very premature – let’s hope it never happens."

The recent scientific reports from a CSIRO scientist and experts in the UK show the jury is not out. The Environment Minister is simply playing politics with climate change.

The Environment Minister’s comments fly in the face of advice from his own Department, which has raised concerns about rising sea levels in the Pacific.

The 2003 Australian Greenhouse Office report, Climate Change: An Australian Guide to the Science and Potential Impacts, clearly outlines concerns about rising sea levels. Further, the Government’s own report Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability released in July 2005 states:

"Sea level rises and increasing cyclone/storm activity are likely to impact on the future development in many Pacific Island nations." (p128)

The Howard Government is in denial about climate change and is leaving Australia unprepared for the dramatic impact of climate change.

Australia must ratify the Kyoto Protocol and join with the rest of the world in taking action to avoid dangerous climate change.