The Climate is breaking down, the world is overheating. We are in a Global Emergency.
The scientific evidence is irrefutable. Global heating is driving extreme weather events killing people and ecosystems. We either act to drive down greenhouse gas emissions or we don’t survive as a species. We must mobilise now.
In the summers of 2015 and 2019 Tasmania burned.
In our Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area wet, alpine areas that have never adapted to fire, burned. Pencil pines, cushion plants and rare remnant Gondwanic plants are dead and won’t come back.
It’s yet another horrific reminder of what global warming is doing to our planet. Extinction is forever. It is heartbreaking for those of us who have worked for decades to protect this magnificent wilderness to now see it black and littered with skeletons of trees and the dead bodies of wallabies and wombats. Scientists say that within 50 years the remnants of Gondwanaland will be gone. It is a tragedy for nature and for future generations who will be the poorer for knowing it was there and now is lost.
But those fires were not the only mega fire storms on the planet. The US has been hit with intense hurricanes. Wildfires in California were of an intensity like nothing anyone had ever experienced before. Drought saw Cape Town in South Africa almost run out of water. In 2019, Europe suffered a lengthy heat wave and in India, many people died as the capital New Delhi posted a record temperature of 48C degrees.
NASA recorded 412ppm atmospheric CO2 levels in June 2019. Sea level rise is now accelerating, 4 billion people experience water scarcity for at least a month a year, West Antarctic ice sheets are unstable, Greenland’s melting ice is running off faster than we thought, coral reefs are being destroyed by bleaching and acidification and yet governments make only incremental change.
While the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, it’s a post 2020 Agreement. Many signatory governments like Australia reverted to business as usual and the US withdrew completely. Australia has approved the massive Adani Carmichael coal mine, created another $15.4 million fossil fuel subsidy with the launch of an oil, gas, coal and energy resources growth centre and slashed CSIRO scientific research funding for both the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. An extension of the NW Shelf gas hub until 2070 is under assessment.
But the release of the IPCC report in 2018 and the IPBES report in 2019 make it clear, we have run out of time. The world has only until 2030 to avoid runaway climate change. People are fed up with waiting for governments and the UNFCCC process to deliver.
Greta Thunberg has inspired a global movement of students Striking for the Climate, the Extinction Rebellion shut down London and cities and countries around the world have now declared a Climate Emergency.
But declaring a Climate Emergency is only the first step.
We live on a finite planet governed by a complex web of interrelated ecosystems. There is a limit to the non-renewable resources the planet can give up to humanity without driving species to extinction and ecosystems into decline. There is also a limit to the capacity of the Earth’s ecosystems to absorb waste in its rivers, oceans and atmosphere.
Business as usual is not the answer.
It is about more than an energy transformation. I love renewable energy but an economic system that simply transfers to renewable energy and continues business as usual consumption and exploitation of people together with displacement from their lands and destruction of ecosystems is not the answer either. We need energy transformation, social justice and protection of nature combined. People cannot live without nature. We have to look after both as our fortunes are inextricably combined.
Global warming has gone from theory, models and predictions to a lived reality with disastrous consequences. It has gone from a discussion about mitigation to arguments over compensation and who will pay.
We need mobilisation for action on mitigation, adaptation and compensation and that means society-wide transformation quickly. It is a war footing as we are in a race against time. Civil society is already agitating for greater financial and political will.
It is an urgent, complex and wicked problem.The Paris Agreement is in the spotlight as nations have to decide before 2020 whether to lift their levels of ambition or renege.
I am committed to helping those cities, governments, NGOs and progressive businesses who recognise that the Climate Emergency needs us to develop strategies and policy, legislative and regulatory initiatives that are commensurate with the urgency of the challenge.