SCIENCE SHOULD INFORM POLLUTION POLICY

If we are serious about climate change we must be ambitious for the future. Being pessimistic and ignoring the science will only lead to more inaction.

On Friday 27 November Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten announced the latest element of Labor’s plan to tackle climate change.

Mr Shorten outlined three key points - committing Australia to zero net emissions from carbon pollution by 2050, a commitment to policies which see global warming stay below 2 degrees Celsius, and to consult with industry, community, unions and with experts to determine a robust but manageable emission reduction target based on the Climate Change Authorities baseline of 45 per cent reduction on 2005 levels.

Australians expect their leaders to take climate change seriously. Malcolm Turnbull describing his own climate change policy as “an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing” is not taking climate change seriously.

Taking climate change seriously means using the best science and keeping in mind the consequences for the economy, jobs, and everyday households when developing policies.

Malcolm Turnbull really is caught in the mud here. He had to sign up to Tony Abbott's climate change policies in order to become the leader of the Liberal Party, but he’s also got a responsibility to be honest with people and acknowledge the consequences of not doing more.

We could have easily put climate change in the too-hard basket and accepted Tony Abbott's policies, but his targets were too soft and too low.

I think we're doing exactly what people expect responsible political parties to do, and that is to rely on the science, look at what the rest of the world is doing and prepare for the future.

Whilst there has been a sigh of relief that Tony Abbott is no longer directing Australia’s climate change policy, the international spotlight was on us last week at the Climate Conference in Paris to see if our climate policies had changed.

I think there are a lot of people out there who are looking at Malcolm Turnbull and hoping that Australia will start to do more to mitigate climate change.

To the naysayers who don’t believe Australia will be carbon free by 2050, the year is 2015 -time is on our side, but we must act now.

If we do not, extreme weather events will increase and this will come at an incredibly high cost to our economy as well as our environment, and our way of life.

When I travel around Tasmania and see the countless houses and businesses with solar panels that power their own electricity needs, I am optimistic for the future. A renewable energy future is here and it’s up to the Government, business and the community to make it mainstream. 

This article was originally published in The Mercury on Tuesday, 8 December  2015.