A Framework for Climate Action
ARC Climate Emergency Working Group Report 2020 for emissions reduction, carbon sequestration and climate change adaptation.
Armidale Vegetable Sowing Guide
This guide shows planting time periods that should allow you to get a crop in Armidale.
Lightbulb Moments
Take control of your electrical use & costs with this Resource Guide Online PDF and Print PDF for welfare agencies to assist clients, colleagues and community.

Zali Steggall’s Climate Change Bill submission by Pats

I am writing to urge the Federal Government to pass the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 and the Climate Change (Consequential and Transition Provisions) Bill 2020. My reasons are as follows.

CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology Report, ‘State of the Climate 2020’, leaves no doubt that Australians are already experiencing dangerous impacts from rising temperatures. Those in Government are no doubt aware of the convincing evidence they cite about temperature rise, rainfall, extreme weather events, sea level rise and ocean acidification.

While the overall statistics are alarming, we each experience life locally. I am writing from the perspective of living on the New England Tablelands. In some ways we are blessed because we experience lower temperatures than most of Australia. But even here, there have already been devastating effects, particularly from severe drought. Armidale, which was supposed to have enough water for a population triple our current size, was forced to go on Level 5 restrictions last year. Among other effects, this deepened the impact of drought on our local food production.

The drought led to the need to build an expensive pipeline from Malpas dam to Guyra, and to spend thousands of dollars trucking water until the pipeline was finished. More bores have been dug without adequate scientific study of their impact on our water table and on such vulnerable areas as our priceless upland lagoons.

While we were relatively fortunate during last year’s disastrous fires, fires did rip through parts of our National Parks and at least one village. Towns were threatened and the majority of the population were encouraged to remain inside to avoid inhaling the high levels of smoke.

The dangers were visible to all and just as has occurred with Covid-19, people were willing to act decisively and collectively when they recognised the danger. Household water use, for example, dropped 36%. As well, people downloaded the smoke app and acted as directed.

New England is already producing significant renewable energy and large projects are incorporating battery storage and balancing solar with wind generation . The NSW Government has recognised the potential of our region by declaring a Renewable Energy Zone. While private companies are collaborating, many await clarity from the Federal Government about policy and future targets.

A colleague and I have had a sustainability stall on our local monthly market for over ten years. Consequently, we have had hundreds of conversations about our future. There was obviously widespread support for local climate action, which gained traction through an on-line petition. The support was so overwhelming that a year ago our Council joined many other local Councils by adopting a Climate Emergency Declaration. Armidale Regional Council has joined The University of New England in support of Zero30, an intention to be emissions neutral by 2030.

So many people have been perplexed by the Federal Government’s refusal to adopt a net zero emission target by 2050. The value of a target is the commitment to ensure not only your policies, but also that behaviour on the ground supports the target and is likely to lead to success.

I find arguments about the economy versus the environment extraordinary.  Were our transition to renewable energy rapid, what would it cost, both in terms of jobs and money, compared to the loss of income, housing, and even lives, from the fires last year? What about the costly devastation from floods? How many lost jobs and loss of income will result from coral bleaching? What will be the impact on our children on the many days in parts of the country when it is too hot to play outside? What’s the cost of lives lost from heat exhaustion?

It is a stupid comparison, even if we only think about the next decade or two. It is even more ridiculous when we consider the environment our children and grandchildren will inherit. Our economy depends on a healthy environment, just as we have proven with our responses to Covid-19, our economy depends on the health of our citizens.

The Climate Change Bill 2020, recommends establishing an Independent Advisory Commission to advise and make visible national needs and plans. Not only do we need to know what kind of world we want and are aiming to create, we need to be sure that the policies we adopt are leading to the outcome we want. An independent commission is the best way to ensure rigorous evaluation as we move toward Net Zero emissions.

It was admirable that our governments, state and federal, placed scientific advice about Covid-19 above the advice of economists. It is time for the Federal Government to put aside their long association with fossil fuels and embrace change. It will happen, whatever the Government does, but proper planning, examination of options, such as creating alternative jobs for those in the Hunter, is surely a better way to proceed.

Patsy Asch


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