Last month, around Australia, more than 400 weather records were broken.
Towns and suburbs in New South Wales and Queensland set records for days over 35 and days over 40. The highest daily mean temperature, the highest daily maximum temperature and the number of nights where the temperature didn’t drop below 20 degrees
Here in New South Wales, you sweated or perspired or glowed (depending on which school you went to) through the warmest January on record.
And in Queensland this month: Applethorpe, Warwick, Oakey, Gatton and Kingaroy, have all registered their highest all-time maximum temperatures.
400 plus weather records in one month.
Now of course, no one set of numbers is absolute proof.
And these are weather records, the day-to-day, week-to-week changes that we see, feel and remember for a while.
Then there is climate, the shift in patterns that occur over years and decades – and we are breaking those records too.
Climate deniers used to pretend the problem didn’t exist, now many prefer to argue that there’s nothing that we can do.
But what about people who know better?
Yet, through political selfishness, division and weakness, are ignoring the emergency in front of us.
We are running out of time to act on climate change.
And every day our Prime Minister chooses his personal career survival over the science, over the facts, over the future is another day wasted.
Ignoring climate change is a premeditated act of intergenerational theft.
And it is a major economic and financial risk: to investors, business and workers.
Last week, even the prudential regulator intervened publicly.
For the first time, APRA has said that climate risks, and I quote:”will become an important and explicit part of our thinking.”
And called on our banks, insurers and superannuation funds to: “rise to the challenge”.
They politely neglected to mention that politicians too need to rise to the challenge too: for the sake of our economy, for our environment and for our energy security.
Because if you don’t have a plan for climate change – you don’t have a plan for energy security.
Energy and climate policy must be integrated – because electricity generation contributes nearly 40 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution.
It’s one of the fastest-growing sectors of carbon pollution.
And, together with transport, it’s the sector where the decisions we make: from changing our behaviour, to improving technology can make the biggest difference in cutting pollution.
Currently, our energy generation is overwhelmingly delivered by coal combustion – by burning coal.
If we’re to reduce our pollution over time – this has to change.
If we’re going to achieve net zero pollution by 2050 – this has to change.
We’re not writing coal off. We know it will continue to be a major part of Australia’s energy future.
But it will simply not be possible for Australia to meet even the inadequate Turnbull-Abbott Paris targets without significantly reducing the pollution produced in our energy sector.
For me and for Labor, it’s all about being practical – not ideological.
Consider the basic question of hardware.
Right now, three-quarters of Australia’s coal and gas-fired generators are operating beyond their design life. Some are over 50 years old…(continues)
SOURCE: Bill Shorten, “Australia can be Asia energy capital, with 50% renewables by 2030”, RenewEconomy, 23 Feb 2017
BroCAP is produced by the two librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia.