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Speech on IPCC Report

On Tuesday 21 March I made a speech in Federal Parliament about the latest IPCC Report and the urgent need to stop approving new coal and gas projects. You can watch the speech here or read the full transcript below.

E WATSON-BROWN: I second the motion. Today's IPCC report confirms what we already knew: we need to stop approving new coal and gas now if we are to have any hope of avoiding truly catastrophic global warming. It was just over a year ago now that we in Brisbane felt the very real impacts of climate change. Thousands of families lost everything. It was absolutely devastating. But it wasn't just the flooding itself. This event affected almost every aspect of our lives, with food shortages on supermarket shelves, and roads and public transport corridors cut—in many cases offline for months. Of course, this added to the existing housing and rental crisis by forcing people out of their homes. That was just in Brisbane last year. That's not to mention the bushfires that ravaged Western Australia only a few months ago, the floods that have absolutely devastated large parts of regional Queensland and north-western Australia—more so-called once-in-a-century events—or the increasingly regular and devastating mega floods and fires in many other parts of the world.

I could go on, but it's clear that this government is more interested in listening to the fossil fuel industry than to climate scientists. Clearly, the nearly $6 million in donations they've taken over the last decade from coal, oil and gas companies have prioritised the interests of those companies over our children's and grandchildren's futures. How cheap—selling off our kids' futures for a measly $6 million.

This IPCC report is crystal clear. We need to end all new coal and gas. The government's proposed safeguard mechanism that we're going to be debating, as it stands now, does not address this. It allows new coal and gas mines to open and to keep polluting. The government even boasts that Shell, Woodside and Rio Tinto all approve of this bill. Of course they do, because it safeguards their profits over our planet. It'll see emissions go up. One proposed gas project, the Scarborough project in Western Australia, will emit an estimated 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon over its lifetime. This blows away even the most optimistic estimates of emissions reduction from the safeguard mechanism, and that's just one gas project.

I hope everyone here in this House is very carefully considering their vote on this issue, because their constituents have spoken clearly. The Guardian reported today that the majority of voters in the member for Moreton's electorate support stopping new coal and gas projects; the majority of voters in the member for Bennelong's electorate support stopping new coal and gas; and the majority of voters in Sydney, the environment minister's electorate, support stopping new coal and gas. Instead, the government are continuing to provide public money to new fossil fuel projects, and they're in lock step with the previous government on handing out $1.5 billion in taxpayer money to the Beetaloo basin project in the Northern Territory, against the wishes of even their members in Northern Territory Labor. This is along with another $10 billion or so in fossil fuel subsidies that the government regularly commits to. Government needs to end these subsidies now and divert that money into urgent investment in renewables. Listen to the IPCC, listen to the climate scientists and listen to voters in your own electorates, and stop new coal and gas.

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