Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their sixth report, and it makes for salutary reading.
Everything in the report we already know, but this time the scientists have made it crystal clear that unless we do something urgently about the unprecedented human-induced global warming, we are on course for an unlivable planet by the end of this century.
Highlighting irrefutable evidence that global warming is driven by humans’ use of fossil fuels and resulting emissions, the report grimly states that the scale and pace we are changing the earth’s climate system have almost no precedent and have already led to catastrophic events which are predicted to only get worse if we carry on as we are. In fact, even if countries start taking climate change seriously and start meaningfully doing something about it, worsening impacts are already ‘baked in’ to the climate system for the next two decades at least.
Australian trends show that heatwaves will be more frequent and intense across land and sea, and that marine heatwaves will see a rise in ocean acidity. The intensity, frequency and duration of fire weather is projected to increase, and we will lose the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs. There will be an increase in heavy rainfall across the northern, central and eastern parts of Australia, with increase in droughts across the southern and eastern parts of Australia. Australian sea levels are predicted to rise faster than the global average leading to an increase in coastal flooding and shoreline retreat. Storms will also increase including sand storms.
This may be our final warning that the natural system cannot cope with our lifestyle and that we just cannot continue with business as usual if we are to have any chance of a future compatible with life.
We are at a fork in the road and we must act now.
So, what can we do?
First up we need to urgently reduce our emissions and to do so, that means:
- No new coal, oil or gas development, or any new fossil fuel development of any kind, and for us to get out of existing ones pretty smartly.
- We need to focus on reducing our emissions by 2030 because leaving this task until 2050 will be too late and essentially is akin to climate denial.
- We need to reduce our emissions by 75% by 2030 (on 2005 baseline).
- We need to be net-zero by 2035
- AND THERE MUST BE NO GAS-LED RECOVERY
… in a nutshell we must stop expanding all fossil fuel industries and stop the much-touted gas-led recovery immediately which means we need the right politicians and political representatives at all levels of government to see this happen.
So really the most important action anyone can do to halt climate change is to vote for the right representative. Climate change denialists have had their day and it is time for political renewal.
We just don’t have time for local, state and federal politicians who are not going to take the IPCC’s warning seriously because honestly, when it sinks in the current rates of climate change are unprecedented in the planet’s entire ‘4.5 billion year’ geological past, that is terrifying.
Sue Abbott is a ratepayer and resident of Scone, as well as a Councillor for the Upper Hunter Shire Council. This post is written in her personal capacity and does not represent the views of organisations she is, or has previously been, affiliated with.