Crossbench moves for Parliament to declare climate emergency

23 Jul 2020

Posted September 11, 2019

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is joining fellow crossbenchers and former Liberal Party leader John Hewson AM in calling on the Parliament to declare a climate emergency.

A motion to be released today calls on the House of Representatives to declare an environment and climate emergency and to take urgent action consistent with internationally-accepted science.

The motion will be moved by Greens MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt, seconded by the Independent Member for Warringah Zali Steggall OAM, and supported by the Independent Member for Clark Andrew Wilkie, the Independent Member for Indi Helen Haines and the Centre Alliance Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.

The move follows a wave of similar declarations around the world in covering 990 national, state and local jurisdictions including the UK, France, and Canada and the city of New York.

“The science is in, climate change is real and we need urgent sustained and consistent action to address emissions," Rebekha said today.

"The last decade of policy uncertainty has been an exercise in absolute frustration.

"We are reaping what we have sown with our community – especially our young people – who are fed up with our inability to get on with the job.

"Climate action should be an issue that crosses the political divide. Even former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher recognised the threat posed by 'global warming' back in 1989 and called on the world to collaborate in response.

"The former conservative PM was also instrumental in bringing about world-wide agreements on the abolition of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons)."

Former Liberal Party leader John Hewson is joining the crossbench in their call for a climate emergency. He is scheduled to join the MPs at a press conference in Parliament House at 12.10pm today.

"Climate was an emergency some thirty years ago. If this had been recognised at the time, we would already be well past the Paris targets and enjoying many thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars of investment, with much lower electricity and gas prices," Dr Hewson said.

"Moreover, we would be a world leader in the inevitable transition to a low carbon society, rather than an embarrassing laggard. MPs and Senators should have a conscience vote on the emergency declaration so that individual members of Parliament can be held personally accountable by their constituents, their children and their grandchildren, indeed by all future generations, for the stance they took on the greatest economic, social, political and moral challenge of this century."

“We are facing an existential climate crisis that threatens life as we know it. With record drought and Australia ablaze barely a week out of winter, it is time to tell the truth about how severe the climate emergency is. If the government can declare a budget emergency, it can declare a climate emergency. Once we are honest about the climate emergency, we can develop the plans to tackle it,” said Mr Bandt, Greens MP for Melbourne.

“We need to urgently address the climate change emergency that is upon us. We are seeing unprecedented extreme weather events that are causing terrible health impacts, particularly the effects of asthma from poor air quality. The time is now to call on the Federal government to act quickly and decisively,” said Zali Steggall, Independent Member for Warringah.

Dr Haines, the Independent Member for Indi, said farmers know better than anyone what it means to live with a changing climate.

“They are working hard right now to adapt their farming practices,” she said. “They know that last year was the second warmest and fifth driest year in Australian history. They also know that climate change is an enormous opportunity. In my electorate of Indi, dozens of farming communities are developing solar power plants on their land, harvesting the sunshine while their sheep graze underneath. Capturing carbon on the land – in our soils and trees –could provide an additional income of $40 billion in the agricultural sector. Declaring a climate emergency means we put a stake in the ground to say we will tackle this and we will seize this opportunity. Australian rural communities deserve no less.”

“Climate change is the most shocking example of intergenerational social injustice one could imagine. The consequences of inaction are so severe that dealing with the climate-change emergency should be Federal Government’s first priority,” said Andrew Wilkie, Independent Member for Clark.

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