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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8426

Senator MILNE (TasmaniaDeputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (21:30): I find it an extraordinary contribution by Senator Birmingham because it reveals a fear that an independent authority may well come up with a climate reduction trajectory that is far greater than what the coalition are actually prepared to do. That shows that they are not serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with what the science requires. I once again point out to Senator Birmingham that there is no way you could imagine in your wildest dreams that a five per cent reduction by 2020 would be enough to bring you into constraining global warming to less than two degrees, as Australia has signed on to in international agreements.

I want to put on the record that the Greens brought the proposition of the British climate change authority to the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee because we believe that it has worked extraordinarily well in the UK. We looked at the appointments to the Committee on Climate Change there and found eminent people such as Lord Robert May, for example, an Australian who is a former chief scientist who is on that committee. There are other chief scientists. The most eminent people are on that British committee. They take the science seriously and then they provide that scientific advice to the British government. It has worked extremely well as a model in that country not only for setting emission reduction targets but also for overseeing the whole of the climate legislation and the adequacy of that legislation in the UK. It is charged in the UK with advising the government on whether the suite of legislation in that country is enough to deliver on the targets.

This is a different way of addressing greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. It is a way of taking it out of the scientific ignorance that is demonstrated in this place on a regular basis and actually putting some decision making into the hands of those who understand the real emergency that is global warming. As I said, it would be my expectation that a Climate Change Authority that is given a mandate of taking on board the latest science, a trajectory to get us there and a carbon budget to get us there will certainly be recommending very substantial greenhouse gas emission cuts and getting us onto a trajectory that gives us a chance of coming in under what we have agreed to globally. What is more, it will put Australia on the front foot in terms of what will happen when we do get to the point of the globe taking these matters seriously, because Australia will have made a substantial start to transformation—not, as you would have it, in a situation where the maximum you are prepared to commit to is a five per cent reduction, which is nowhere near the physical reality. Your political reality is nowhere near the physical reality that the planet needs.