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“WA playing catch-up is not the same as WA leading” My speech to parliament on the IPCC report.

11 August 2021

Here’s what I said in parliament this week on the IPCC report.

HON DR BRAD PETTITT (South Metropolitan) [10.07 pm]: Yesterday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report that is probably the most important of the year, if not the decade.

It was eight years in the making and involved 234 leading scientists reviewing 1 400 climate change research papers. I suspect that many members are already across this so I will not go through too much of the detail, but it is worth summarising very quickly.

The report refers to how climate change is happening more quickly than first thought and that humans are the primary cause. The front page of The West Australian summed it up very well today when is said that business as usual will see the world’s temperature rise by 1.5 degrees by the end of the decade and by more than two degrees by the end of this century.

Importantly, there also hope in the sense that the report says that there is still a window available to us to avoid climate breakdown, but that it is rapidly closing.

Only rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in this decade will prevent such climate breakdown, with every further fraction of a degree in heating likely to compound the accelerating effects.

It is not the Greens or I saying that but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climate change, is saying that.


“[This report] is a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk … There must be no new coal plants and no new fossil fuel exploration and development, governments, investors and businesses must pour all their efforts into a low-carbon future.”

Members might think that was a Green saying that, or me saying that, but it was not—it was the UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“If this report, and the evidence from around the world right now, does not convince this generation of political leaders that we have to stabilise the climate then I don’t think anything else will. This is as clear as we can be.Now it’s up to our political leaders to act.”

Again, it is not me saying that, it is not the Greens saying that, it is Dr Joëlle Gergis from the Australian National Universityand a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

It is yet more evidence of the cost of inaction and it is past time the government stopped spinning and started delivering for Australians. The bare minimum commitment should be net zero emissions by 2050.

Again, that was not me, that was federal Labor’s climate spokesman, Chris Bowen.

The science is very clear. We need to get to net zero before 2050. For anyone to be credible, we need to do more. We all need to set ambitious targets and put the policies in place to get there.

That was not me, not a Green, but a Liberal; that was Matt Kean, the New South Wales energy minister. It is very interesting that this state has just legislated the biggest renewable energy package in Australia’s history.

The rest of the world understands that if we do not do more by 2030, we all go over the climate cliff. After this report, failure to lift 2030 targets is criminal negligence.

That was not me either, but this time it was a Green!—that was Greens leader Adam Bandt.

I raise this in Parliament because what happens in this space in WA does matter. Often we do not think that we matter and it is a federal responsibility. I really want to challenge what. We all know that Australia is performing badly in this space.

The climate change performance index ranks Australia 54 out of 61 countries. That was the generous one; the one we performed the best in! When the UN report on sustainable development goals came out, Australia was last out of 191 countries. We all know the Australian government is not offering leadership in this space. Out of the worst performingcountries, WA is one of the worst performing states. Western Australia is the only state in this country with rising greenhouse gas emissions. We are one of the few states without a legislated net zero emissions target.

I was really pleased to hear the Premier this morning on ABC radio say that that was something he was now considering in terms of changing our aspiration and legislating towards a net zero target. That was encouraging to hear. As the Premier said, this is where the world is going. WA playing catch-up is not the same as WA leading. In addition to our 2050 net zero target, the science is really clear that a legislated 2030 target, in the range of 45 to 50 per cent, also needs to happen. This is unambiguous; this is absolutely clear from this report.

I encourage anyone who has not had a chance to read the report to do so. I really hope we can debate targets of this kind in this chamber soon. I hope we can debate the policies that we need to meet the targets. It is a really exciting time for this state. This IPCC report is such an important report. I hope that it actually creates a new kind of impetus in this Parliament formulti-partisan action in the climate space.

All the polls show that this is what Australians and Western Australians want to see happen. Over 70 per cent of people want to see greater leadership by us in the climate space and want stronger actionon it. It is up to us now, on the back of this report, to step up. Ihope we can match this concern with action. I always like to err on the side of the positive—although the climate is undoubtedly a huge risk to this state; it is also a huge opportunity.

I want to finish by saying I really want to realise that opportunity for the state and look forward to working with all parties to realise that.


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