Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Climate report underlines need for action: Wo -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

PETER CAVE: The Major Economies Forum in Italy tomorrow will continue negotiations on how the
world's large polluters will go about reducing their carbon emissions. G8 leaders have agreed that
the world should try to keep temperature rises under two degrees.

Australia's Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has welcomed the statement, hoping that it may
provide momentum on what methods that nations will be able to use to cut their carbon footprints.

The Minister has also used the occasion to release a new report on global warming, one which she
says shows climate change is happening faster than previously predicted. The report's author says
it's now more probable that the marked drop off in rainfall around Perth and the lower
Murray-Darling Basin are due to climate change.

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: The Kyoto Protocol on limiting carbon emissions expires in 2012. This December the
world's nations will come together in Copenhagen in Denmark to decide what the next targets should
be.

G8 Nations in Italy overnight have agreed to restrain temperature increases to two degrees. The
Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says that's important and might help with negotiations to
Copenhagen.

PENNY WONG: We welcome the G8 statement today which says quite clearly that climate change is a
global challenge, commits these economies to working together and recognises the signs that we need
to restrain global warming to around two degrees if we are to avoid dangerous climate change.

SABRA LANE: The tricky part now is how will the world do that? Developed nations say they will aim
for the biggest carbon emissions cuts of 80 per cent by 2050. But China and India won't agree on
deal that involves developing nations cutting their emissions by 50 per cent, saying that would
harm their improving economic prospects.

Tomorrow 17 countries including the biggest emitters will discuss what they're going to do next.
Australia will be at that meeting.

Again, Penny Wong.

PENNY WONG: I think what's important to understand is both the G8 and also the Major Economies
Forum which of course is meeting tomorrow and which Prime Minister Rudd will be attending, are not
the formal negotiating meetings in the lead-up to Copenhagen but they are meetings of leaders and
what they can do is give leadership and provide momentum.

SABRA LANE: Coinciding with the meeting Minister Wong released another report this morning which
she says shows climate change is real and happening faster than what scientists had predicted.

Professor Will Steffen wrote the report. He's the executive director of the ANU's Climate Change
Institute.

WILL STEFFEN: In many important ways the climate system is moving near the upper limits of our
understanding and indeed our model predictions. That's understandable because emissions are moving
towards the upper limits as well.

What this means is it gives us I think a sense of urgency as a global community to get on top of
the emissions issue, to start getting those down quickly. And if we don't I think there is a risk
of quite serious impacts around many parts of Australia and indeed in other parts of the world.

SABRA LANE: Specifically Professor Steffen says scientists believe there is more evidence now to
show the dramatic drop in rainfall in south-west Australia, around Perth and the lower edge of the
Murray-Darling Basin are due to climate change, not drought.

WILL STEFFEN: I think we can say with some degree of confidence now that the drying in south-west
Western Australia, the one from which, the one which Perth is suffering from, has a strong climate
change signal so that's going to be with us for quite some time.

We're also now starting to see a signal we think in the southern part of south-eastern Australia;
that is the southern half of South Australia and Victoria. The pronounced drying we've seen over
the last few decades appears to have a climate change signal in it is as well so there's a risk
that that will continue for some time.

Now further east up the seaboard, particularly northern New South Wales, Queensland and so on, it's
still too hard to tell whether there is a climate change signal in there or not. Obviously that's
affected strongly by El Nino and we really don't know yet how El Nino is changing, if it is yet, in
relation to climate change.

SABRA LANE: Water flows to the Murray-Darling Basin for example, they've slowed quite dramatically
since 2001. Some were suggesting this was maybe prolonged drought but you're saying now that the
evidence is more pointing towards climate change and that these low inflows might be a permanent
feature?

WILL STEFFEN: Yeah I think what we're saying is that we still don't know. We can't say with a high
degree of confidence that the main factor is climate change.

What we're saying is certainly in the southern part of the Murray-Darling Basin we believe we're
seeing some effects of climate change. Now there could still be natural variability imprinted on
that as well. Natural variability still operates.

So what I would say is there is a risk that in the southern part of that catchment in particular we
will see continued drying.

SABRA LANE: Minister Wong says the report is another reason why the Opposition should pass its
emissions trading scheme when Parliament resumes in August.

But the Opposition's environment spokesman Greg Hunt says as it stands the Opposition will only
pass the renewable energy target bill immediately and only if that's decoupled from the
Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

GREG HUNT: Let's deal with renewable energy legislation today, tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday and
let's then get the emissions trading scheme right.

We want to make sure that we don't export emission to China and India who only overnight have said
they're not keen to be part of a global agreement. We don't want to export those emissions and with
them would go Australian jobs.

So global emissions could go up under a bad scheme. We want to keep global emissions down and we
want to keep Australian jobs up.

PETER CAVE: The Opposition's environment spokesman Greg Hunt ending that report from Sabra Lane.