Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Parliament House, Canberra
30 October 2006
Subject: Stern Report, Government denials of climate change, Rising sea levels
ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Howard Government is frozen in time while the globe warms around it. The Stern Report is a clear warning of a clear and present danger, not to just to our environment but to our economy if we don’t act. What the report says is that early action will be far cheaper – perhaps five, ten or twenty times cheaper. It also says that we can’t afford to wait any longer.
It is very clear that the only way we will tackle climate change in Australia is with a change of government. This government has as its industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane. Ian Macfarlane said on the Sunday program just a couple of weeks ago that he is sceptical whether there is a connection between emissions and climate change. The Prime Minister just three weeks ago questioned the more gloomy predictions. On 27 September he said he wasn’t interested in what might happen in fifty years time. That’s the sort of lack of leadership that is taking the government to throw some money at a problem that they say doesn’t even exist.
Climate Change is the greatest challenge facing, not just Australia, but the global community and we have a government that refuses to take action.
If we are going to get serious we have to immediately ratify the Kyoto Protocol. We need to put a price on carbon by having a national emissions trading scheme. We need a significant increase in our renewable energy target. We need a climate change trigger in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act. We need to embark on programs that look at transport, that look at sustainable cities, that look at the way our buildings are built and at our planning mechanisms. We need to look at building a green car for Australia. We need a whole suit of responses.
What we get from this government is nothing. Denial in the first instance and then minor measures announced which are only possible, each and every one of them, due to measures implemented by state governments – such as the Victorian solar project which is only possible because of the Victorian Renewable Energy Target.
JOURNALIST: When you saw the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald this morning and the contrast of the two pictures and the underwater spit bridge, what did you think?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: The front page of the Sydney Morning Herald today is a graphic depiction of what we can expect if the world doesn’t act. This is a reality and it is a reality in our lifetime – let alone the responsibility we have to future generations.
I just find it incredible that John Howard, Ian Macfarlane and these Ministers can deny that there is any need for a serious response to climate change. It is just an absolute abrogation of responsibility that they have. We know that there will be rising sea levels. We know that if those rising sea levels affect Sydney in that way then at the same time many of our pacific island neighbours will be underwater. Bangladesh has potentially a hundred million refugees. That was in a report by the US state Department some three years ago. The thing about this government is that it is not listening to the science; all it is listening to is the politics.